Trend Watch

The Cubs Won the World Series, and 'Irregardless' Is a Word

Lookups for 'irregardless' spiked after a commentator used the word during the World Series.


Irregardless last night reared its monstrous head, and, bellowing its unspeakable name, caused a nation of terror-stricken waifs to whimper and mewl. Actually, Joe Buck (or John Smoltz? We're a dictionary and Twitter has conflicting reports)—in any event, the word was used during commentary for the final game of the World Series. And it made some people very angry.

cubs

You don't have to use 'irregardless'. You don't have to like it. But the word is real.

As is so often the case when the masses are wroth by lexical matters they took to the dictionary, seeking the gentle and soothing balm that can only be found by the absence of an entry. However, we do provide an entry for irregardless, and so as a result we once again found ourselves the recipients of a variety of angry tweets, letters, and muttered oaths.

Due to the fact that some people keep using irregardless, and other people keep accusing us of performing a disservice in defining it, we have decided to list the most common complaints about our treatment of it, and our explanation for why we have included it in the dictionary.

“It’s not a real word.”

Irregardless does in fact meet all of our criteria for inclusion. It is “a sound or combination of sounds that has a meaning and is spoken or written,” has a fairly long history of use (more on that in a minute), and is used with a specific intended and understood meaning (no one uses irregardless to mean “cat”; it is always used to mean “regardless’).

“It was just made up.”

Irregardless has been in consistent use for well over 200 hundred years, longer than the sport of baseball. Our earliest evidence comes from the end of the 18th century.

But death, irregardless of tenderest ties, Resolv'd the good Betty, at length, to bereave.
Charleston City Gazette (Charleston, SC), 23 Jun. 1795

“Only illiterates use it.”

Irregardless has been used across a wide range of educational levels.

In the Prussian service all hygenic responsibility ended when a warm hospital building was secured, irregardless of bad air.
—Medical and Surgical Reporter_, 14 Aug. 1875

…they were even more surprised by the novel bill of fare than by the extravagant decorations which had been lavished irregardless of expense.
¬—The Washington Post, 22 July, 1894

He duplicated the experiments of Kelling and Cannon and Blake to prove that stomach contents would pass through the pylorus, if not obstructed, in preference to the stoma irregardless of the site of the artificial openings.
The Lancet, 15 Jan. 1910

“Only Americans use it.”

Irregardless may be more common in North America, but we have considerable evidence of its use in the UK.

…that the Church of Christ should consist, not of all in the parish, irregardless altogether of their creed and conduct…
Liverpool Mercury (Liverpool, Eng.), 18 Apr. 1893

Reckless selling irregardless of values was replaced by equally reckless buying.
The Daily Telegraph (London, Eng.), 21 June, 1921

Indiscriminating financiers saw that there was money in the sport in the early days and they launched out with dirt-tracks up and down the country, irregardless of the absence of riders and lack of organization.
Nottingham Evening Post (Nottingham, Eng.), 7 Aug. 1930

We understand that people do not like this word. We feel your pain. And in return, we would like you to understand something: we did not make the English language. We merely catalog its use.

Trend Watch tracks popular lookups to see what people are talking about. You can always see all Trend Watch articles here.



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