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Note 329 – The controversy about the word irregardless

Irregardless - Raleigh, NC

Irregardless - Raleigh, NC (Photo credit: hyku)

When I saw the word irregardless written in The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, I was drawn to what it said beside it, which was “it should be regardless”. They explain that people have a desire to add in a prefix to make a word negative; however, by adding ‘ir-‘ to regardless, it leaves it with a double negative meaning. Words where it is safe to do this are irrespective and irresponsible as they don’t have a negative suffix at the end.

Although the origin of the word is uncertain, Wikipedia say that “irregardless is an informal term commonly used in place of regardless or irrespective which has caused controversy since it first appeared in the early twentieth century”.

Even though the word irregardless has now been added to some dictionaries, namely Merriam-Webster, American Heritage Dictionaries and Oxford English Dictionaries, it is a non-standard word which should be used with caution, explain Quick and Dirty (Grammar Girl). In their article called ‘Irregardless Versus Regardless’ they also say how language experts believe irregardless has been formed from the words regardless and irrespective.

So, do you write regardless or irregardless?

Until tomorrow…


Photo credit: hyku Flickr


About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Subjects I tend to blog about are life skills, parenting, decluttering, worklife balance, etc. At the moment I am on a decluttering mission creating space in my house, garden and mind. I have challenged myself to do at least ten minutes a day and write about it. Have a good day! Sandra Freelance Writer


6 thoughts on “Note 329 – The controversy about the word irregardless

  1. Sandra,

    I cringe when educated, well-positioned people use the non-word irregardless. It is a literary bastard hybrid of regardless and irrespective. When it is used, it tells me that the speaker or writer isn’t as smart as he or she thinks.

    All the best,


    Posted by Bruce Stambaugh | March 24, 2012, 10:51 pm
  2. To me an even better reason for not writing “irregardless” is that it would make me sound ignorant–that is, if I used it!.
    I don’t really agree with dictionaries that bend too quickly in the direction of accepting colloquialism as standard

    Posted by Bill99 (@Bill99) | March 24, 2012, 10:52 pm
  3. I don’t agree with the use of the word but since majority rules, the dictionary accepts it as a word. they have a majority use rule where if it is found in a certain amount of written text it is considered a word. Can you remember back when “ain’t” was NOT a word.

    Posted by MercXue | March 24, 2012, 11:30 pm

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