Kory Stamper, a lexicographer for Merriam-Webster and author of “Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries,” told us that “irregardless” is a word in the dictionary, and how to use it correctly. Following is a transcript of the video.
“Irregardless” is a word and we’re duty-bound to enter it.
My name is Kory Stamper and I am a lexicographer for Merriam-Webster. That means I am a writer and editor of dictionaries.
One word that gets a lot of vitriol is the word “irregardless.” There is a dictionary entry for “irregardless.” “Irregardless” is a word. This inspires specific vehement hatred in people. “Irregardless” is a word and we’re duty-bound to enter it.
“Irregardless” is a word. It is related to “regardless.” It is actually a blend of two words. It’s a blend of “irrespective” and “regardless.” People hate it because they say that it has no use — why not just use “regardless”?
But actually in the dialect that “irregardless” comes from, it has a specific use that doesn’t translate well in print. It’s basically an emphatic use of “regardless.” So if you’re a native speaker of certain dialects that use “irregardless” you use “irregardless” to shut down further conversation on a topic. I might say, “Dad, let me borrow the car. I’m a really good driver.” And he’ll say, “Regardless, I’m not comfortable.” I’ll say, “Oh but come on. I’ll get it detailed, and I’ll put gas in it.” He’ll say, “Irregardless, no.”
The point of the “irregardless” is to shut down conversation. So “irregardless” is a word. It has a specific use, in particular dialects. That said, it’s not part of standard English and so — especially if you’re writing or if you’re speaking in formal places — you want to use “regardless” instead. Because if you use “irregardless,” people will think you’re uneducated.