Is Irregardless a Word? What Does it Mean?

Over time, language will never stop changing and growing to meet the needs of a group. For instance, many people now use irregardless of others’ objections.

Is irregardless a word? When did irregardless become a word? Find out whether you should use regardless or irregardless and how to use them in different contexts.

Definition of Irregardless

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Irregardless is an adverb that is synonymous with regardless. It means “without regard” or “without paying attention to the current situation.”

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary explanation recognizes the word despite the disapproval of many grammarians and language experts. But, yes, it is an actual dictionary entry.

We label irregardless as a nonstandard word instead of slang. A nonstandard word is any word that doesn’t adhere to grammar, pronunciation, and other uses of a language by native speakers.

There is a slim chance irregardless will ever be a standard English word. That’s why it’s safer to use regardless instead. 

Nonstandard Words and Descriptive Dictionaries

Irregardless is an example of a nonstandard word that does not follow the conventional spelling and grammar rules. But it’s recognized by many descriptive dictionaries because these items do not explain when and how to use a word. 

A descriptive dictionary is a dictionary that only tells the meaning of a term. This is also why clickbait, meme, and selfie are English words.

But every English speaker should know that nonstandard words have no place in formal contexts. Despite the recognition of irregardless, you shouldn’t mention it in a formal presentation, business letter, or thesis paper.  

Regardless vs. Irregardless

With the creation of new words, it’s difficult to tell whether the correct term is regardless or irregardless.

Regardless is the recognized term in the English dictionary, which means “without paying attention to present circumstances.” It also means “without regard” because of the suffix -less.

Examples:

  • Allen knew she wasn’t allowed in the office, but she visited Tanya regardless of the risk.
  • The students are grouped in one classroom, regardless of age and grade level. 
  • This job opening is for everyone, regardless of academic background. 

Irregardless has the same meaning as regardless. You might not like the double use of negatives ir- and -less, but many official terminologies have the same characteristic. One example is irremediless, which has the prefix ir- and the suffix -less.

So, when did irregardless become a word?

No specific event led to the use of irregardless as a word. But major dictionaries use it, and it has been included in the Merriam-Webster dictionary because of its constant use since 1795.

We cannot deny that the term isn’t accurate because language is arbitrary and ever-changing. When someone says the word, you know it doesn’t mean not without regard. 

No matter how annoying irregardless is, it is made of sound and is used by some English speakers. Therefore, it’s part of the English language. Even Merriam-Webster recognizes it!

How to Properly Use Irregardless

Although synonymous with regardless, irregardless has a specific use in informal conversations. It can be a powerful word to stop any further discussion. Here’s an example:

“Sir, can I enter the building? I used to work here.”

“Regardless, we only allow current employees inside.” 

“Please! I have my old I.D. card.”

“Irregardless, no.” 

Remember to only use irregardless in casual discussions or conversations. 

So, Should I Say Regardless or Irregardless?

Irregardless of what other people think, you have the permission of Mr. Webster to use the term Irregardless. But he probably wants you to use it in informal contexts like daily conversations with friends or when chatting with relatives.

In formal contexts like business presentations and academic writing, regardless is still the correct word to use.  

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