Regardless, Don’t Use “Irregardless”

Irregardless. Oh, how I hate that non-word. I remember when my mother started dating my step-father decades ago. One of the things I found fascinating about the two of them together is that they always talked. They always had something to discuss, not just say to each other. They talked about work. They talked about family. They talked about sports. They talked about politics. (One was Republican, the other was a Democrat)–it got interesting.

At one point, I remember my step-dad was trying to make a point–Mom was winning–and my step-dad said in exasperation, “Irregardless…” I couldn’t hear anything after that. “That’s not a word,” I remember telling him almost immediately. “Put an ir- in front of a word, and it means without. Put -less in back of it, and it means without. You just said, without-without regard. That doesn’t make any sense.” He just looked at me. My mom laughed.

I remember saying that as though I said it was yesterday instead of forty years ago. Okay, I rudely corrected him forty years ago, but the point is, I was correct.

If you take the time to look up irregardless, you’ll find that some language experts think it came about because people were confused as the whether the word they wanted was regardless or irrespective, which kind of makes sense. Others think they were confused by the form many English words have when they start with irre-, like irresistible or irrelevant, and so on, which to me makes more sense. Stick the irre- in front of the base word, like resistible, and it means the opposite. That’s just not the case with regardless. It really isn’t.

Regardless of how the non-word came about or why you feel compelled to utter it, please don’t. It takes people straight out of the context of the conversation. You’re not going to be heard, and if your listener is anything like me, they’re not going to take you seriously. (That’s just my opinon).

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