Regardless, Irregardless Is Not a Word by Anabel McGuan

English is a language of stolen words. Our words stem 29% from Latin, 29% from French, 26% from German, and 6% from Greek (5 Minute English). Our dictionaries are galleries of stolen artifacts, proudly displaying their embezzled treasures’ origins. English is a mutt, a conglomeration of languages pieced together. Since English lacks originality, it’s not strange to stumble upon an abundance of compound words, and most make sense — raspberry, ladybug, turtleneck, sunflower. Some words, however, are seemingly dumped into the blender, tossed around for a minute, and poured back out into a tall glass of nonsense. These nonsensical words clutter and soil the language, and they often make people sound illiterate. One such word has enjoyed a recent popularity surge: irregardless.
Let’s talk about ‘irregardless.’ According to the Oxford English Dictionary, etymologists speculate that it’s a hybrid of two words, irrespective and regardless. Independently, those words have definitions and meanings:
  1. without regard to something else, especially something
    specified; ignoring or discounting     
  1. having or showing no regard; heedless; unmindful
  1. without concern as to advice, warning, hardship, etc.;
  1. regardless of, in spite of; without regard for (
Squished together to form one word, however, they lose all meaning. The suffix -less in regardless means without, and the prefix ir- in irrespective is also negative. Irregardless is “an erroneous word that, etymologically, means the opposite of what it is used to express”
(Online Etymology). Grammar Girl refers to it as “a double-negative word that literally means ‘without without regard.’”
English is not a Choose Your Own Adventure book; you can’t go around whimsically cutting and pasting words. Dictionaries exist for a reason. There are innumerable online resources, not to mention thousands of paper versions, that provide pronunciation, history, and everything in between. If you have even the slightest doubt about a word’s usage or meaning, look it up! With the popularization of smartphones and the Internet, language should be used more correctly due to the simplicity of finding reference material. The Google graph below shows that the opposite holds true, as the usage of ‘irregardless’ has become increasingly popular in the past 20 years, with 2004 as one of the highest peaks –coinciding with the Blackberry Pearl’s release, one of the first internet phones (T-Mobile).

Today’s technological age has made us all lazy. Because looking up words and other information is so easy now, nobody has to stop and think about it. It used to be that if you wanted information on a subject or a word you would trek down to the library, scour the reference section, and — gasp — read a book! Nowadays, everyone constantly carries endless information in their pocket. How ironic that in an age where fact-checking yourself has never been easier, people have never cared less about their correctness. On the contrary, maybe we fear incorrectness to such an extreme that we refuse to check ourselves — what we don’t know can’t hurt us. Regardless of the reason, irregardless is not a word.

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