English Grammar and Usage, Reader Polls

Grammer Pole of the Weak: That’s Irregardless…

Welcome to the latest edition of Above the Law’s Grammer Pole of the Weak, a column where we turn questions of legal writing and English grammar and usage over to our readers for discussion and debate.

Last week’s vote was extremely close, but 51% of our readers thought that the Bluebook should be abolished. With the fall semester drawing to a close and brief deadlines approaching, we think that law students definitely had a hand in the outcome.

This week, we turn to a question of grammar. Have you been using the word “irregardless” instead of “regardless”?

Irregardless isn’t a proper word, but people still use it regularly, and argue about its use constantly. You might even get looked down upon for using the word. For example, check out this image, courtesy of Grammar Party:

The usual rebuttal for the use of irregardless goes something like this: “You can’t tell me that ‘irregardless’ isn’t a word! It’s in the dictionary!”

And, unfortunately, this word is in the dictionary, but as Merriam-Webster notes, it’s a nonstandard word. How did this nonstandard word come to be? Here’s more from Merriam-Webster:

Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that “there is no such word.” There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead.

Even the dictionary tells us that we should be using regardless instead, but people keep using the word irregardless in their every day language — people like alleged murderer Stephen McDaniel. (He might not have killed that girl, but he definitely took a hacksaw to the written word). You know it’s a double-negative, right? Let’s turn to Grammar Girl for more information:

It seems pretty common for people to look up a word in a dictionary, and if it’s there, they think it’s fine to use that word every circumstance. It’s the “Look, it’s a word!” phenomenon. But you have to look a little further to see what kind of word it is, and if it’s nonstandard in some way, then use it with caution. You’ll sound uneducated if you go around saying things like I ain’t gonna conversate with him irregardless of the consequences.

Both the professionals and the dictionaries tell us that irregardless isn’t a proper word, regardless of what you think. But what do you think? Should we kick this nonstandard word out of our language? Let us know in our poll:

Should we get rid of the word "irregardless"?

  • Yes. I will never use irregardless, regardless of the consequences. (94%, 1,244 Votes)
  • No. I will continue to use irregardless regardlessly. (6%, 80 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,324

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Irregardless [Merriam-Webster Dictionary]
Irregardless Versus Regardless [Grammar Girl]
Irregardless: use at your own risk [Grammar Party]

Earlier: Prior Grammer Poles of the Weak

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