Column: Irregardless, it is a word


Commentary by Curtis Honeycutt

You’re not going to like this.

On the contact form on my website, I have a field where I ask people what their least favorite word is (for the record, mine is supple). The word that by far gets the most entries is “irregardless.”

I’m sorry to break it to you, but irregardless is a word.

Yes, irregardless is a word. Depending on the word processing tool you use, it sometimes gets the red squiggly underline treatment—but not always. Look it up in a dictionary, and you’ll find it there along with all of the other officially sanctioned words.

When people jokingly use irregardless, they are doing it wrong. Those who utter it accompanied by an ironic smirk simply use it instead of regardless, to the frustration of word purists.

Many have dismissed the word irregardless because they view it as redundant; regardless is all we need, they argue. Adding “ir-” in front of regardless downright irritates people.

But that’s the wrong way to use irregardless. You see, irregardless is a way to drop the mic on an argument after someone has already used “regardless.” Here’s an example:

Robin: Batman, will you let me pick the music on the Bat Radio next time we’re in the Batmobile? I promise not to sing along.

Batman: Absolutely not. Regardless, your taste in music is terrible.

Robin: Holy supple salamanders, Batman! I won’t play any Creed or Nickelback. Can I pick the music, please?

Batman: Irregardless, my answer is “no.” To the Batcave.

In this scene, Batman shuts down the argument by putting extra emphasis on “regardless” by saying “irregardless.” Batman knows how to use irregardless properly. Also, he’s the one who wears the pants in the Dynamic Duo (OK, technically they’re tights, but Robin only wears green underwear).

Most of the time irregardless is used, it’s misused—probably in a knowingly tongue-in-cheek manner. And its intent comes through; people either get bothered by their friend’s usage of irregardless or they think it’s funny. Either way, unless you’re using irregardless like Batman, you’re doing it wrong.

Batman once said, “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.” I say: Leave the defining up to the dictionary; we can all do a better job of improving our grammar and word usage to make our lives more awesome.