It Was a Great Series Irregardless

Should we ever use “irregardless”?

cubs-logoCongratulations to the Chicago Cubs for breaking their 108-year World Series championship drought. I’m an LA Dodgers fan, but I appreciate the Cubs’ achievement and give them kudos for it. It was a great Series, in which the Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians in seven games.

Early in the deciding seventh game two nights ago, announcer Joe Buck used the word irregardless. I heard him and made mental note of it because irregardless is not accepted English usage, something well known to language mavens. I didn’t think any more of it—after all, this was a live, unscripted television broadcast, and even the most scrupulous grammar police can slip up on occasion. But evidently it sorely bothered a lot of folk, who took to social media to complain. Merriam-Webster Online even joined the fray with a supercilious attempt to put word nerds in their place by asserting that irregardless is in fact a word and is in the dictionary. Here’s a line from their article: “Irregardless last night reared its monstrous head, and, bellowing its unspeakable name, caused a nation of terror-stricken waifs to whimper and mewl.”[1]

irregardlessOuch!

Okay. It’s in the dictionary, so I guess that makes it “a word,” although Merriam-Webster’s own usage dictionary admits that irregardless “is still a long way from winning general acceptance as a standard English word. Use regardless instead.”[2]

Other usage dictionaries aren’t so accepting. One says flatly, “There is no such word as irregardless. It is a redundancy, erroneously patterned after irrespective.”[3]

Another usage authority makes a brutal one-word comment on irregardless: “Illiterate.”[4]

Here’s my bottom line on irregardless: In spoken English it should be avoided, but it’s a forgivable offense. In edited prose literate writers will avoid it. It’s unforgivable. Use regardless in all instances. Δ

[1] Retrieved 11/4/16 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/news-trend-watch/the-cubs-won-the-world-series-and-irregardless-is-a-word-20161103

[2] Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage, 565.

[3] Bergen and Cornelia Evans, A Dictionary of Contemporary American Usage, 256.

[4] T. M. Bernstein, The Careful Writer: A Modern Guide to English Usage, 244.

© 2016 by Dean Christensen.

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Author: Dean Christensen

Educator, copyeditor, writer, voiceover guy, baseball bug, logophile, classical music afficionado, classic rock 'n' roll lover, classic-movie buff, bibliophile, former this, used to be that, and future who knows what. Every day is an adventure in learning.

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