Regardless, Irregardless, Regardless, Irregardless, Regardless, Irregardless
Is it a real word or isn’t it? Well . . . I don’t use it. You decide for yourself.
“Irregardless” appears the heaviest and oldest dictionary I own, a 1967 Random House Dictionary of the English Language, The Unabridged Edition:
“Usage. IRREGARDLESS is considered nonstandard because it is redundant: once the negative idea is expressed by the -less ending, it is poor style to add the negative ir- prefix to express the same idea. Nonetheless, it does creep into the speech of good English speakers, perhaps as a result of attempting greater emphasis.”
In my 1979 Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, the definition reads:
“adj., adv. a substandard or humourous redundancy for REGARDLESS.”
Today, Merriam-Webster Online notes that the word was first heard in American speech in the early 20th century, as early as 1927:
“Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead.”
So, if it isn’t a “real” word, why does it even appear in these dictionaries in the first place? www.unwords.com has this to say:
“Although this word has only been in circulation for under 100 years, we can’t give it the privilege of being an unword because of its acceptance into the Webster’s and American Heritage dictionaries.”
“. . . it has been considered a blunder for decades and will probably continue to be so.”
The word “irregardless” is in the dictionary because it’s been used for decades. Improperly used, but used nonetheless. Mostly in nonstandard speech and casual writing. It’s even used on occasion by an educated speaker.
So, why don’t I use it?
1. It’s a double negative.
2. I don’t’ care to be considered uneducated by anyone who strongly believes it isn’t a “real” word.
3. I will never be considered uneducated for using the word “regardless.” (Maybe for other things, but not for that.)
4. I’m a pragmatist. Given that regardless and irregardless are used interchangeably, why bother with both?
The moral of this little story?
Air on the sighed of caution. Regardless of your education, you might knot seam two bee educated if you’re spell checker is aloud too make your grammar decisions four ewe. Don’t lesson your credibility.