Give My Irregards To Mefi

We’re in a post-prescriptivist reality here people! Set your irregardless meter to cromulent!

blue_beetle

This is a survey of every use of the word “irregardless” on Metafilter from July 6, 2000 (the date the word first appeared on the site) through the afternoon of May 17th, 2009.  The word appears in 360 comments across three parts of the site: Metafilter (the blue), Ask Metafilter (the green), and Metatalk (the grey).  It also appears in the text of four posts: three questions on the green, and one post to the blue.

I explain my reasoning and method and provide a summary of results below, followed by a full listing of all comments and conversations about the word with links to the original comments.

Like most of my posts along these lines, this is both thorough and almost certainly incomplete.  Additions, suggestions, comments and questions welcome.

WHY

Why would I do this?  I was curious about what I perceived to be the highly-reactive nature of the word “irregardless”.  My gut feeling was that the word elicts responses to its usage far out of proportion with most vocabulary.  And the best way I could think of to test that was to sift through actual usage on Metafilter over the last ten years and see how often people did, in fact, respond.

TERMS & METHODOLOGY

A “response“, in this sense, is a comment that replies not just to some portion of a previous irregardless-laden comment (a “prompt” comment, let’s call that) but which specifically responds to that usage: the response addresses, in one form or another but in any case unambiguously, the fact that the word “irregardless” appeared into the comment it replied to.

I separate comments into three buckets, here:

1. An inert prompt: a comment that contains “irregardless”, which is not a response to a prior comment also containing the word, and which is followed in that thread by no responses to the usage.

2. A reactive prompt: a comment that contains “irregardless” and is not a response to a prior comment also containing that usage, but which is followed by one or more responses to its usage.

3. A response: a comment responding to the usage of “irregardless” (rather than or in addition to the substance) in a reactive prompt (2), or responding in that vein to a previous response.

In those terms, my hunch can be restated as the belief that the ratio of reactive to inert prompts for the word “irregardless” is much higher than it is for almost any other word.  (Irregardless is not, I don’t think, unique in having this property — other language-peeve favorites seem like strong candidates for high reactivity as well, as do taboo words and likely some other classes of word and phrase as well.  The general notion of language peeves could probably be expressed in terms of this property fairly well, if one was so inclined.)

I’ve collected together citations by subsite, further separated into inert vs. reactive prompts and broken out by year.  The inert prompts make for an interesting view of who “irregardless” is used on by mefites, while the reactive prompts and their ensuing replies give a good look at varying opinions and thoughts about the word and its usage.

Note that in almost all cases the text of the linked comment has been abbreviated to focus on the use and discussion of “irregardless” in particular.

THE NUMBERS

Here’s the vital stats based on the survey, and some brief thoughts.

SITE    PROMPTS    REACTIVE    INERT    RESP. RATE    REPLIES/REACTIVE
Mefi    135        26          109      19%           3.4
Meta     32         8           24      25%           8.0
Ask      56         6           50      11%           2.7
TOTAL   223        40          183      18%           4.2

The findings seem to jibe with my hunch: site-wide, there’s about a one in five chance that if a user includes the word “irregardless” in their comment, one or more comments will appear later in that thread that specifically respond to their usage.  That’s a tremendous amount of reactivity — if such were the case for more than a slim collection of outlier words and phrases, conversation on any topic would be pretty much impossible.

Granting that this is a pretty small sample set, the per-subsite results are compelling as a model for the different cultures on the different parts of the site:

- on Metatalk, where confrontation and argumentation are generally most welcome, the response rate is highest and the number of replies per reactive prompt is highest.

- on Ask Metafilter, where sidebar discussions and nitpicking are actively discouraged, the response rate is lowest and the number of replies per reactive prompt is lowest as well.

Frequency note: “irregardless” appears on Metafilter in 364 distinct comments and posts as of this writing.  The word most commonly recommended in its stead, “regardless”, appears 13,022 times.  The third man in all this, “irrespective”, appears 741 times.  This is out of somewhere slightly upward of 5,000,000 total comments on the site.

IRONY & CITATION

While I don’t factor this into my analysis above in any meaningful way, it’s worth noting that not all uses of the word are credulous — in many cases, the word is used deliberately in an ironic or provocative fashion, or is cited or quoted rather than used in a, uh, conversational capacity.

I’ve marked comments in the index below accordingly (see USAGE MARKUP below), but here are some brief numbers:

Mefi: 33 of 135 prompts were self-conscious usages (which get *s in markup), 9 of 135 were citation/quotes (#s in the markup).  Hence, only 69% of mefi prompts contained credulous uses of the word; the other 31% started as ironic/knowing deployments of the usage.

Meta: 14 of 32 were self-conscious, and 3 of 32 were quote/citation.  53% of metatalk prompts were not credulous.  The majority!

Askme: 21 of 56 were self-conscious, 4 of 56 were quote/citation.  45% of askme prompts were not credulous.

By this reckoning, we can peg the number of times in which “irregardless” has been used unselfconsciously on the site at a lower value: 139 distinct, credulous uses out of approximately 5,000,000 comments.  (Calculating sheer word frequency is a task for another day.)

MISC. NOTES

- Mefites who I noticed using this frequently and unironically include ZachsMind, echolalia67, troutfishing, and Rothko.

- In a small fraction of cases, threads were closed soon after the usage and so there was not an unconstrained opportunity for reply.  There are probably other similar effects to account for (how does time-since-thread-opening affect the reactivity of a given usage, etc), but that’s beyond the scope of what I’m willing to get into here.

- A few instances of the word’s use are deceptive, as they are references to a mefite whose username is “irregardless”.

- The word appears only on the three “main” subsites of Metafilter; no one has apparently yet used “irregardless” in a post or comment on Music, Jobs, or Projects, or in planning a meetup on the new Tenth Anniversary subsite.

USAGE MARKUP

- Prompts which contain the word “irregardless” only incidentally are marked with a pound/hash (#).  These include comments which quote a previous comment or external link’s use of the word “irregardless” but make no comment on that usage.

- Prompts which use the word with intent to call attention to it are marked with an asterisk (*).  These include which use the word in an intentionally ironic fashion, or mention it as an example of problematic or contentious usage, for example.

- Any prompts not marked with either of the above are taken to be using the word credulously without any unambiguous attempt to call attention to the word itself.

- Responses generally get no such marks, as they are by definition unambiguously discussing the usage already and I’d just be keying in a bunch of extra asterisks for the heck of it.

- In the reactive prompt back-and-forths, I’ve occasionally marked the initial comment itself and followups by that commenter with the first initial of their username to clarify somewhat the flow of the discussion.

POSTS

Very few posts contain the word “irregardless”. I’ll discuss them briefly here and then move on to the much large collection of comments containing the word.

ASKME POSTS

The word “irregardless” appears in three askme questions. On two occasions, it is used in apparent earnest by the asker:

“…they insist that it meant 30 calendar days irregardless of what time the phone was picked up…”
“You can draft anyone irregardless of other player’s picks.”

In both cases, the usage goes unremarked upon within the thread. Whether this is because of the Ask Metafilter-specific policy of removing off-topic commentary or not is an open question, however; at a glance it’s not clear if readers found the the usage unobjectionable, found it objectionable but respected the guidelines of the site by refraining from commenting upon it, or stated their objections but had those comments removed by the moderators.

On the third occassion, the word is used as an anecdotal point of criticism of the asker’s employer’s questionable language skills:

* “If they didn’t also use words like “irregardless” (often in a proud tone that says, “Look at me, I used a big word!”), maybe this wouldn’t irk me so much.”

In this case, the word comes under discussion after the asker mentions it again in a follow-up comment:

- “Anonymously post “IRREGARDLESS IS NOT A WORD”…”
- “Ask him once what “regardless” means…”
- “Irregardless if what you all think, it’s actually a real word.”

The thread, posted in early 2004 when AskMe was still very new and did not yet have clear guidelines regarding off-topic banter, is also remarkably chatty by today’s standards.

OTHER POSTS

The word has not appeared in posts in any section other than AskMe, though a 2003 post on Mefi does contain a link to the site irregardless.net.

COMMENTS

INERT COMMENTS, MEFI

2000

Irregardless of skin color.
Irregardless of how well the company actually does.
irregardless of what flavor actually lights his fire.
Irregardless of what he paid…
irregardless of whether or not you happen to think Mao Tse Tung looked cool in battle fatigues.
Irregardless, there’s more than sufficient evidence…

2001

Irregardless of pay disparity and other real issues…
Irregardless of how rare…
irregardless of its point of origin.
Irregardless of which newspaper wrote what…

2002

irregardless of intent…
irregardless of race
* That was hilarious. A few more words that are exspecially fun: acrost and irregardless. [Mocking the usage by the subject of the post.]
irregardless of the what the media says…
irregardless of nationality?
irregardless of whether she’s clean or not.
irregardless of the era in which it’s viewed.
irregardless of who did it…
Irregardless of whether you think he was Joseph’s son or not…
irregardless whether…

2003

…didn’t feel sure that the US would attack them irregardless.
irregardless of the “recruitment” argument…
* the spellchecker didn’t recognize “Kierkegaard” and suggested “irregardless” as a correction!
irregardless of whether they have anything to do with Bush
irregardless of where they come from in the actual country
# [reply to previous comment, quoting usage but not referencing it]
irregardless of it’s merits or weaknesses
Irregardless, you just never forget some days.
* The word “irregardless” does convey an intent to the listener, even though some argue it’s not a word. [Post about words.]
This is irregardless of if you’re married or not.
irregardless of circumstances. [Same thread as previous, but not a response.]
irregardless of wether it (allegedly) leads to it in some cases.
irregardless of how drunk they were
# [quoting but not regarding previous usage]
irregardless of whether or not they were really suited for one another.

2004

irregardless of gender combination.
irregardless of their economic status.
irregardless of the pains I am likely to experience.
the professor was arguing that, demand and utility irregardless…
* Irregardless, we must now get back to normalcy. [Mocking "catastrophical" earlier in thread.]
irregardless of their choices.
# [quoting but not regarding previous usage]
irregardless of who is in office.
* Irregardless of the efforts of the erudite, people will keep talking as they always have. [Post about eggcorns, presumably ironic.]
…my brother believes this irregardless of the Onion
…quite irregardless of other types of manipulation of the election results.
irregardless of current events or held beliefs
* One seldom encounters “Irregardless” in scientific works. [Questioning integrity of scientific work in question?]
Irregardless, nice post.

2005

irregardless of the fact that its whys all the way down…
irregardless of whether you draw as much attention as the celebs.
irregardless of whether they are arranged and presented out of context to convey an impression
* Next then you know, we’ll be changing the pronunciation of ask to “aks” and accepting irregardless as a real word and not a goofy ass bumpkin slang. [Following earlier implication that "octopi" was not acceptable.]
irregardless of our employment or savings situation.
young men helping older people irregardless of race
* Irregardless, I think it will embiggen the laptop market [Presumably ironic intent.]
irregardless of the fact that children were being seriously harmed.
* I like it when people say irregardless and they really mean regardless. [Post about etymology and misdivisions.]
irregardless of legalities.

2006

irregardless of the corporate existance
irregardless of its actual utility.
irregardless of whether it has bullets or not.
Irregardless, I think we need to get rid of the CIA and start over.
Irregardless of the message it might send
* Irregardless, English 2.0 pwns. [Post about pronunciation.]
irregardless of their individual actions.
Irregardless of of the fact that this is just a private online forum
Irregardless of the other dry witticisms
irregardless of that, even if he was a Nazi
irregardless of racism, poll tax or other such concerns
* Surprisingly good game, too, irregardless of my judgements. cortex, you wanna swing into MeTa and take a shot at explaining to stav what the beef is with the Firefox “irregardless” add thing? [Response to joke about pronunciation of "nuclear".]

2007

irregardless of the amount of friction (but not zero)
irregardless of diplomatic status
# [quotes but not responding to previous usage]
* It might not be revelant at this point, but Websters allows both collectible and collectable, irregardless of what you might of heard. [Post about apostrophes and usage gripes.]
* I’d really appreciate it if that guy in particular would spend his time on something more appropriate, like chastising those that use words like “irregardless” or other blatantly false wordings.
* The book are green is ungrammatical; I ain’t coming irregardless is not. You may not like the latter, it may be unshaven and smelly and should be kicked out into the gutter from which it crawled, but it is a perfectly grammatical sentence. [Same thread as previous, but not a direct response.]
(irregardless of intent)
# irregardless of blood-quantum. [quoting usage from link without addressing it]
irregardless of technical skills.
irregardless of any notions of “all men are created equal.”
irregardless of its age or ethnic origin
# irregardless of what he’s done. [quoting from link without comment on usage]
* Irregardless, it’s the same difference. [Intentional ironic use.]
* Eh, it’s no account irregardless. [Intentional ironic use.]

2008

irregardless of the book’s valid point that evolution and God need not be in conflict.
irregardless of that candidates positions and views?
Irregardless of what our Scandanavian overlord might say
* Irregardless of your opinion and for all intensive purposes, mediocrity takes the day. [Post about use of "begging the question".]
(irregardless of race)
irregardless of how badly the fanboys want to make it number one yet again.
# [quoting previous usage without responding to it]
# [ditto]
* If I can deal with people saying “irregardless” (which the spell check doesn’t even flag) or “floundered” for “foundered,” you can get used to people saying “married” for gays legally united. [klangklangston implies a Hierarchy of Peeves?]
irregardless of his being a monk
* Irregardless, even. [Post about "confusing words".]
* Others, like “could of” or even “irregardless” don’t bother me as much, probably because I assume the person using them is joking. [ditto]
* Irregardless of every one’s holier then thou’s attitudes up thread. The point is MUTE, people! There’s no thing you can do!  BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!! Grammer is dead! Long life the king! [ditto again]
But I think needing to drive to a bar is a bad idea irregardless.
* Irregardless! Irregardless! Irregardless! [Post about the Typo Eradication Advancement League.]
* Irregardless, it would be nice to see these clowns try to justify this. [ditto]

2009

maryh, I thoroughly enjoyed this post, irregardless of how it was spelt. Rock on.
something which he thought teenagers might give such a disease irregardless.
irregardless of how awesome it might be.
* However, poor English cannot be forgiven. In their blog response, they said “irregardless.” Therefore, they must die.
* You know what drives me crazy? Using “irregardless” instead of “regardless” [same post as previous]

REACTIVE PROMPTS – MEFI

2001

irregardless of whether or not high-up brass in the military knew
- “irregardless” is not a word.
- I like people who like good English. [rebuking the usage]

2002

# included such terms as heighth and irregardless without any monitory labels on them… [quoting David Foster Wallace, thread re: OED additions]
- The accountant (MBA?) next to me at work says “irregardless” at least once-a-day on the phone… [This from Shane, who posted the chatty AskMe above.]

irregardless of ideology.
- The word is “regardless”, people! As in “without regard”!
- Irregardless, I’m a little peeved… [A coy response to the objection?]

Irregardless, hooting and hollering is not the exclusive province of liberals or conservatives… [Comment by moonbiter.]
- (Psst. moonbiter: “irregardless” is not an accepted word.)
- I was too ignorant to know this. [moonbiter repentent, and...]
- The Anti-Irregardlessarian Party is here to welcome you with open arms.
- Ah, another defender of the language! I salute you! [oissubke, who was the first respondent in the previous exchange as well.]

2003

P: Irregardless of what we thought about him…
- pseudoephedrine: (to my chagrin) [citing usage guide]
P: …My reasons for using it are thus: “regardless” is a dactyl naturally spoken, “irregardless” is a pair of trochees. Since the dactyl is unnatural in English, and we don’t have a central prescriptive authority, I hold that aesthetics trumps tradition.
- .Ouch, you hurt my brain. I can’t let this pass. First, regardless is not a dactylic word, rendering your (dubious) idea that dactyls are “unnatural” irrelevant. It scans short-long-short, and, while there is no classical term for such a metrical unit, it is (according to your own pseudo-aesthetics) “natural” in that it fits quite comfortably in an iambic (or trochaic) context. Moreover, any aesthetics that can countenance such a monster as “irregardless” sorely needs to be pitched.
P: …Narrow traditionalism is great and all, except that “irregardless” has now been around long enough to be acceptable as an idiom… [Full comment is much larger.]
- “‘irregardless’ is more pleasant sounding” is the kind of argument that makes me want to shove pancils into ear canals…
- it’s not just tradition, it’s meaning – it means “not without regard” and you meant “without regard”…
- I don’t think “irregardless” is generally meant as litotes for “with regard” — the OED and the AHD agree that it’s just non-standard for “regardless”.
P: I say “ri-GARD”, which is why I use “irregardless” – “IR-i-GARD-less” rather than “REE-gard-less” or “ri-GARD-less”. Either way, you’re still dealing with three syllables in a foot, which is an awkward construction in English. “Regardless” and “irregardless” both ordinarily start sub-clauses, though, and up here, the stress is usually placed on the first syllable of the clause. That transforms “ri-GARD”, an iamb, into “REE-gard-less”, a dactyl. [Again, inter alia.]
- ah well. I’m sad this self-defeating word is gaining credibility, but it’s true it doesn’t impede the transmission of meaning.
P: “irregardless” satisfies a reasonable set of non-prescriptive conditions as to “making sense”. It has precedents in its linguistic liberties acknowledged by accepted authorities, it is recognised and used correctly by native speakers of the language, and it has been used for a long enough period that it’s not merely a slang expression. [Inter alia.]
- But it has a meaning in english – we know that when a word is prefixed by un- or i(double r/ n/ l )- that it’s negated. It’s a rule in our language.
P: Here we go! And this is precisely my point with “irregardless”: it may be slightly confusing to non-native speakers, but it _sounds_ better for the job to native ones.
- well, I guess we can agree on an ending then – “regard” is from the french also!

2004

* That particular egregious misspelling provokes my ire even more than irregardless.
- and irregardless of what you might think, irregardless is a word.

irregardless of bloodlines and differences between religious sects…
- *shudders. throws up.*

2005

He got to graduate on stage, as valedictorian, anyways irregardless of the rule.
- Robocop is bleeding: There is no such word as irregardless. Never was, never will be, irregardless of public opinion.

…can have an impact on many listeners’ ears, irregardless of age.
- blah blah irregardless blah blah…heh

2006

* With all of this discussion on the nature of language, I have one real question for the experts: can I still be pissed when someone says irregardless?
- I think strict descriptivists would say “no, now that it’s common usage you only prove yourself an elitist pedant by complaining about it”.
- That’s a good example of why prescriptivists keep prescribing: “If you don’t accept that there are rules that must be followed, the transition of ‘irregardless’ into the lexicon will be the rule, rather than the exception.”
- In a purely descriptivist world, it seems to me like you lose some of that. “Irregardless” is just as good as “regardless”, even though it’s a double-negative and hence cannot have its meaning interpolated from its parts. If any sentence structure is as good as any other, there is no tension when I depart from “the rules”.
- I don’t like irregardless, I don’t like disinterested used to mean ‘uninterested,’ and I hate hate HATE people saying “may have” when they mean (when I would say) “might have” (if he would have run harder, he may have caught the ball). The difference between your average prescriptivist and me is not the existence or intensity of such feelings, it’s that I realize they’re of no more significance than my attachment to the music of my youth or the Pan Am Building (fuck that “MetLife” shit!).

O: Irregardless of anyone’s religious proclivites, the Bible is an important book that deserves study.
- Irregardless is not a word. Just sayin’…
O: I ain’t bound by any of your steenkin’ grammer rules!!
- The next person who uses the non-word “irregardless” around here is going to get my copy of the KJV rammed up his or her ignorant arse. Probably.
O: Who cares? It’s a word now.
- Decani, that’s rather inflammable of you.
- Just sayin’. [usage guide citation]
- Merriam and Webster can suck a fuck. T’AINT NO WORD BUT THE GOOD LORD’S WORD!
- I care; you idle, witless, malformed fucking lout. Because it’s an incorrect word now. And always.

I’m all for clean air but earth has been hot before and will get hot again irregardless of what we do
- you mean “regardless.” (Sorry, but that one just bugs me–along with “could care less” and the misuse of “begs the question.”)

* Irregardless, it has the rite to right they’re list about sites whom aught to have changed the werld, but instead effected ought. Am I rite? [Mocking "aught" for "ought".]
- Irregardless,Irregardless is not a word! What a bad non-word OF A word it is (not). !

Irregardless, Verizon should have admitted a mistake in the text of the billing quote and settled for 71 cents.
- That is awesome logic Bael’Gar. Irregardless, have you considered a job at Verizon?
- I love the descriptivist argument regarding ¢, combined with “irregardless.”
- Actually, though, I really only commented because I had the intense, burning desire to point out, again, that irregardless is not a real word.
- Irregardless!

* Is the use of the ‘word’ “irregardless” going to increase, or decrease in the year 2007?
- dammit, i tried to link to an esolutionsdata statistic but it didn’t work….gonna have to figgur out how to do that.

2007

L: It is therefore a statistical fact that the War on Drugs policies are being used to persecute black people, irregardless of whether there is any explicit or even implicit conspiracy to do so.
- [quotes usage but not replying to it]
- Fuck the war on drugs, and yes, the American judicial system tends to throw that book at minorities (especially blacks) more than others… but my real problem is with this word!.
- For reals. I’m taking it to metatalk. [Joking reference to older metatalk thread.]
L: [amended quotation with citation: "considered not-standard"]
- [quotes usage but not replying to it]
- Irreirregardlessless, our shrill earnest newcomer is correct about the rather pervasive racism in our glorious land

* R: Irregardless of the lax-language league… [Usage intentionally ironic, following peeving about "from whence".]
- (please don’t cut my face, but “irregardless” is also hinkirrific.)
- I’ll second Dizzy’s motion on irregardless. That one makes me go all hinky and sets my teeth on edge.
R: (sigh) Guess I’ll have to work on making the next P.S. an even more egregious work of hack.

S: irregardless of the fetid stink of tyrannical incompetence
- Please don’t say ‘irregardless’.
S: Ok.

2008

* K: When a friend defended the use of non-word “irregardless” by protesting that English is a living language, I could only reply: You’re right, so please, let’s not kill it. Certainly English has room to grow, but not all growth is progress. Sometimes it’s just, like, a rotting, stinking fungus. [In a post about "banished words".]
- The language isn’t going to die just because people start saying “irregardless.” It’s preposterous to suppose it would. If anything, allowing people to adapt the language for their own use will only spread its popularity.
- No, but in a perfect world, some people would. Kidding, I’m kidding.
- I think “irregardless” is a perfectly fine word. It identifies its user as an ignorant boob who is trying to sound educated. The language and, in fact, all of us are enriched for its existence.
- I’m OK with anyone using irregardless as long as they know it’s wrong.
K: It is in the sense that there’s something technically wrong with “irregardless,” the problem being that “ir” and “less” kind of cancel each other out and result in a nonsense word. It can mean something if we decide it has meaning, yeah, but that would be more of a concession to widespread incorrect usage than anything else.
- The problem with your argument, kitten, is that grammar is descriptive, like any theory describing a natural system. It’s a good model for predicting and classifying the patterns that occur in language, but it’s only related to what we speak in that it happens to predict the structures with which meaning will be communicated by a group of people who use a certain language. So, in the ideological construct that is English grammar, “irregardless” contains a redundancy. In the actual English that is spoken, it does not, because in this case the suffix and prefix have lost their independence from the word that they belong to.
- The rules that you’re using to condemn “irregardless” aren’t even the ones you actually use to read, write, hear, and speak English, since you actually do understand the word, even though the rules say it should be nonsense.
K: Generally speaking, it means that the speaker is ignorant of the conventions of his native tongue. This is nothing to be celebrated, and it isn’t indicative of a vibrant language; it’s a sign that the language is unwell. Slang, profanity, words from other languages, and even reworked preexisting terms (coo’ for cool, for instance) are, to me, signs that the language is robust, absorbing influences to become a stronger, faster hunter, and that’s awesome. “Irregardless” just means you’re using a fifty-cent word wrong. Subjectively, of course! Again, there’s nothing stopping us from turning the language into a game of Calvinball, or eschewing it altogether in favor of grunts, mime, and shit-flinging, but if we’re going to speak English…
- I agree with psmealey on irregardless. I’ll add “inasmuch”, a word used in a letter I rec’d from someone who also typed in all capital letters for business correspondence. Certain words seem to appeal to the semi-literate as Big Words to throw around so they sound intelligent.
- Irregardless? I could care less.
- Should I just accept that you’re not going tell me how these conventions come about, why they command our respect, or how to gauge the health of a language? I think I know the answer, and it boils down to the fact that you and people like you will look down on others who don’t speak in the manner you prefer.
- I can’t recall ever hearing it except for people making fun of it. I’ve no precise idea of its intended meaning other than that it’s probably somehow related to “regardless.” After this thread, I’m sure I probably don’t need to know. I will continue to pretend it’s a contraction of “err… regardless.”
- I used to work with a guy who used “irregardless” and “mercenary” a lot in an attempt to sound like an educated boss.
- It means without lack of regard.

Irregardless…
- And there you have it folks, irrefutable proof that psychic powers do not exist. If they did, my burning psychotic hatred should have caused Tube or myself (probably both) to burst into flames less than a second after I saw that hideous word.

In short, the heart likes what the heart likes, irregardless of degrees. [Post about Stephen King's Dark Tower.]
- I guess in your English curriculum they missed covering a thing or two. Was it all just about literature? Did you test out of some courses?
- I think they tested out of “Historical Survey of Self-Righteous Griping About Usage Peeves”.

B: I would like to point out that most everybody interviewed in that piece, black and white, was repeating talking points, irregardless of truth.
- AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!
- I think that this post and this discussion involves some very serious truths that many of us are simply not willing to confront. This is a subject matter that has been around for many years, and there seems to be no level of education that is capable of changing people’s minds or their habits. Even when confronted with irrefutable proof that something people believe to be true is, in fact, false, many people simply refuse or are not able to change their opinions or their actions. I would have thought that this issue would have been resolved a long time ago, yet here we are in the 21st Century and there still are people — educated people — who can stand up and look at themselves in the mirror without being able to admit this one very uncomfortable truth: “irregardless” is not a word.
- Regardless of what others think, I choose to live my life treating people equally, irrespective of their skin color, race, what have you. [Response-by-example, or crazy coincidence?]
B: And regarding “irregardless”: I stand, well, abashed.

Irregardless of what you think of his politics, the man sounds like he is chewing on a lemon and mace-flavored dog toy every time he opens his mouth.
- Irregardless isn’t a word.

* AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH! [Faint of Butt, as before, after quoting "irregardless" text from link about spoof "grammar correction" web startup.]
- How does adding words hurt a language? We should be getting mad at people who say “very unique,” because they are degrading “unique” to mean the same as “strange;” but those who say “irregardless” are just improving the flavor of English.
- “Irregardless” makes Baby Jesus weep.
- Obligatory link to Wikipedia article for “irregardless”
- But of course when people use that word, their meaning is always contrary to that implied by its construction. It’s like me saying it’s cold when it’s actually warm, but no one caring because they figure they probably know what I meant. That’s not “adding words,” that’s taking another step down the road toward Newspeak.
- Nor a word that means “not flammable”, eh wot?
- If I may say, and not irregardlessly mind you, that I neither agree or disagree with the position that may or may not be being stated in this very thread.
- The redundant “ir” reverses the logical meaning. Some people could care less, but I haven’t got no patience for this kind of nonsense.

The situation is different for McCain, though, since there are enough idiots in the US that will make their choice solely based on gender, race or sexual history of the candidate, completely irregardless of their policy.
- Fail.

2009

* M: But that aside, opinion pieces about how people should speak, and what words or phrases people should or shouldn’t use make me shrug. Irregardless of grammar, of course. [Ironic in intent, in thread about dialectal sports usage.]
- There’s an example of something I find much more annoying than sporting metaphors in this very thread. “Irregardless”. However, even that pales in comparison to “I could care less”. Argh!
M: I would of said “regardless”, but I didn’t want to loose that “ir” prefix.

INERT PROMPTS, META

2001

* And, rest assured, someone within a fair distance of you is at this very moment either saying or thinking of saying “irregardless”. [From conversation about "could care less".]
irregardless of who wrote it

2002

irregardless of the gulf between our views
* I’m actually a grammer-asshole, and I cringe when anyone says “Irregardless.” But I rarely tell people not to. [Shane again!]
Wait–that happens irregardless.

2004

* Irregardless, I object strenuously to you’re inference that eye knead spelling help; the issue is obviously grammer. [In a thread about spelling.]
* Why the hell is “irregardless” in the spell checker? Ugh.
irregardless of knowing any of this

2005

* A lot of the words I hear today as supposed “non-words”, such as ain’t, irregardless, (now) inasmuch are actual, real words that the complainers are too lazy to look up. [Thread about typo-correction.]
it was going to be a FPP irregardless.
# [quoting without responding to previous usage]
* Irregardless, let’s get back to fighting. [In a peevey thread.]
irregardless of personal preference

2006

irregardless of the questioners understanding.
* We’ll love you regardless! Maybe even irregardless!
Irregardless, last SD meetup here.
* I’m pretty sure Hotmail changed my Firefox spell checker in some way that causes me to get more spam every time I try to spell “irregardless”.
irregardless, you have fun now

2008

One upfall of an early grave is that irregardless of what your students achieve in life, you will be dead.
* We’re in a post-prescriptivist reality here people! Set your irregardless meter to cromulent!
Irregardless of who wins, riots will occur.

2009

* Irregardless, we’re going off on a tandem here. [Ironic use in a thread discussing prepositions.]
Irregardless of peer reviewed studies

REACTIVE PROMPTS, META

2002

* Ok, I admit it…I’m a terrible person. I probably kick my cat in my sleep, I’ve considered feeding obnoxious neighborhood children to my dogs,…and once, just once mind you, I considered smacking someone for repeatedly using the word “irregardless”…which is NOT a word, damn it! [Post about pet peeves.]
- Irregardless, w/r/t people who make nit-picky, irrelevent, and possibly erroneous corrections to other people’s grammar, and usually add pretentiously convoluted qualifying clauses – they’re annoying, too.

2004

irregardless of our personal views
- [quoting but not responding to usage]
-
Wise and ironic in using that ever-so-redundant and slightly annoying, nonsense word “irregardless.”

Q: Well I think there are two issues here that are important, irregardless of the content.
- irregardless isn’t a word.
Q: Irregardless…
- I don’t know if this is the appropriate place to call this out, but irregardless is a word. Check any decent dictionary. You still shouldn’t use it, ever, though.
Q: …irregardless

2006

* Irregardless of the several times he’s taken me to task for this and that here, I’ve always thought languagehat was one of the best things about MetaFilter. Grats.
- Irregardless. Heh.
- Oh, I get it now, y6y6y6 was making a little joke to see if the usually nonjudgmental Mr. Hat would take him to task yet again.
- languagehat don’t pay no nevermind to no “irregardless” seeing as he’s all about language is evolving and whatnot. He ain’t no prescriptivist hater and shit.

irregardless of whether or not they actually are the anonymous question asker.
- Cool! It’s been years since I’ve seen the word “irregardless” used outside of the context of jokes about bad grammar and the general decline of letiracy.
- I, too, noted the use of “irregardless” and tuned out of the rest of Effigy’s post.

* Just as irregardless, although informal, has taken the nation’s tongues by storm and is recognized as a part of the lexicon, so shall twynlynge! [Responding to languagehat's criticism of a pop lexicon.]
- I do not recognize it and never will. You may say “irrespective” or you may say “regardless,” but if you say “irregardless,” I will be forced to look down on you. I don’t want to do so, but I must.

* W: While we’re here, can Matt please add “irregardless” to the Firefox spell checker? Its in most spell checkers, not sure way it isn’t in ours.
- Cuz it ain’t a word. Irregardless I mean, not “it”.
- I really hope WoWgmr72 was joking. I just can’t tell with some of these posts and comments today.
W: Its a word. I know that makes you a sad panda. But its a word.
- I’m pretty sure WoWgmr72 is taking the piss.
- I’m pretty sure WoWgmr72 is not taking the piss.
W: Irregardless is a word. Pedantic word Nazis clinging to their only shred of authority can’t change that.
- You know who else is a pedantic word Nazi?
- Yes, it is definitely a word. As are heretofore and inasmuch. Nevertheless, making pandas sad is ~bad~. Bad, bad, BAD.
- Irregardless is crap because it’s a double negative. If you want to use it mean that something is in fact being regarded, go right ahead.
- That settles it, WoWgmr72. I am a proud word Nazi.
W: Riiiiiiight…….. and debone (a perfectly standard word) means to put bones back into a boned piece of meat.
- I could care less about “irregardless.” And I really wish I did.
- If you mean “Can’t he edit the master Firefox spellchecker”, well, keep in mind that he has absolutely nothing to do with Firefox, so you may as well ask Michael Jackson or David Beckham to add “irregardless” to the Firefox spellchecker.
- But I do confess that I’m mighty tickled that the reason that the authorities don’t consider irregardless to be a real word is that the core group conspired to deny the obvious.
- It ain’t over yet, stavrosthewonderchicken. We needs us a fat lady, somewhere hereabouts, inasmuch as this thread needs an end, irregardless of any other concerns, rules-wise, or Crescent-wise.
- Language isn’t math. Double negatives as intensifiers are common in many/most languages. There’s nothing wrong with them. My objection to irregardless is that it’s wholly unnecessary. If it had a subtly-but-usefully different meaning than regardless, then I’d think it were fine. But it doesn’t. It indicates exactly the same thing in every usage context I can imagine, and with two added letters. The double negative doesn’t intensify it. It doesn’t do anything. That makes it sort of dumb.
- This great evil. ‘Irregardless’. Where does it come from? How’d it steal into the world?
- That’s right, descriptivists: it is a word, and it means ‘I am a buffoon’.
- Before you start pontificating about words, you might want to learn what “linguist” means.
W: I *will* pontificate about the word irregardless until linguists, editors, languagehaters, etc stop claiming it isn’t standard English.
- Also, “fucktard” is a word, but, like irregardless, I would never use it in front of my mom.
- Note: “descriptivism” does not equal “hey, there’s no such thing as truth so it’s all good and space aliens killed Kennedy.” Just thought I’d clear that up.
- I think that by far the greatest significance that irregardless has is that it differentiates between social classes primarily distinguished by levels of education completed. It’s mostly a snob test.
- In my experience (I know, anecdote filter), “irregardless” has most often come out of the mouths of people who have a fair amount of education (college degree) and are in a white-collar field. I have found that people who use irregardless tend to be biz-speak / marketing-speak knuckleheads who always prefer longer words to shorter ones.
- in my experience, “irregardless” is used by people who know just enough to try to use jargon, but don’t know enough to use it correctly.
- It’s probably a somewhat educated/highly educated and (less and less so in the US, I’d imagine) middle class/upper class sort of distinction.
- If using irregardless is wrong, I don’t want to be right. No, wait, actually I do want to be right. Irregardless sucks.
- I still loathe “irregardless”, but I think EB’s double-negative-as-emphasis stuff sounded OK so my reason may not be valid (I’d like to see some examples though, I can’t think of any offhand). So I suppose I will fall back on elitist snobbery as my reason for hating the word.
- Admittedly, I use unthaw and I squirm a bit when I hear irregardless, but I recognize that this is simple inconsistency on my part. I’ve no doubt that it’s because unthaw is more widely used than irregardless, and because I never much used thaw, whereas I have always used regardless instead of its negation.
- Linguistically, irregardless is a word like any other (I won’t get into the “double negative” thing, which is very silly in its own right), but for whatever reason it attracted severe criticism from the usual crew of language Nazis shortly after it was first recorded (in 1912, in western Indiana, according to the American Dialect Dictionary; Ring Lardner was using it not long thereafter), and as The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage (for which I will put in my usual plug as the only usage manual worth consulting) says, “its bad reputation has not improved with the years.” My advice is the same as theirs: “Use regardless instead.” Not because irregardless is a bad, evil word sprung from the bowels of Satan (much less because it’s “not a word”), but because using it marks you as an oaf in many people’s eyes, and who wants to be marked as an oaf?
- my pragmatic argument would be to ask whether there’s any relative benefit or cost for using unthaw instead of thaw independently of how you answer that question for irregardless.
- I throw the burden of prood back on you, because all the word level examples I can think of are ones that I consider “wrong”, like “irregardless”.
- Anyway, isn’t irregardless more plausibly a, um, “cross-pollination” from irrespective?
- If someone wanted to use “floomba-regardless” to mean the same thing as “regardless” I’d think they were wierd – but I’d object less than to the repurposing of a prefix which has existing meaning.
- The OED says that irregardless is “[Prob. blend of irrespective and regardless.]” and describes it as ” In non-standard or humorous use.” Amusing that out of the first four quotations, three of them question the correctness of its use.
W: It is my sincere belief that “irregardless” is a word. My feelings about the word are almost exactly this.
- The furor in this thread is a reminder that despite overall harmony, words have the potential to be an inflammable issue at Metafilter.
- Brilliant, WoW’s first post to MeTa contains the word “irregardless”.
- Everybody piles on and says “Irregardless” Double Negative intensifiers in other languages makes sense sometimes is a word is not is so fine whatever doesn’t make a pot of difference anyway before WoWgmr72 admits the question was a troll.
- I’m going to start using “respective” as a synonym for “irregardless”, just to keep things hopping.

2009

This next discussion cropped up between the time when I first started musing (on noticing the initial usage) that “irregardless” seems like powerful peeve bait and the time at which my research on metatalk finished up. It may still be going on.

Unless you’re the Dali Lama (and you start telling me about everlasting life on my deathbed), then it’s safe to assume you also judge strangers irregardless of size.
# [quoting but not responding to usage]
# [ditto]
- I judge strangers, intimates, and enemies who use “irregardless,” which is not really a word.
- It’s in every dictionary I have, including the OED. But perhaps you’re better qualified to determine what is and isn’t a word than lexicographers.
- I loves me some irregardless, irregardless of its legitimacy or lack thereof.
- If you wanna get metaphysical about it, I guess it’s a word if we can say it. That doesn’t make it an educated choice.  Irregardless of its “existence.”
- Oh, and the OED describes it this way: ” In non-standard or humorous use: regardless. “
- Irregardless of the fact that you don’t seem to know the distinction between “percriptivist” and “descriptivist;” or even that there is such a distinction.
- The word may be in the dictionary, but the dictionary notes it as non-standard. And using a word that is two letters longer than another word that means that exact same thing, simply because it’s a mistake that eventually got in the dictionary, meets any reasonable definition of “Wrong.”
- In this case, you are clearly wrong—and I don’t need him to argue it. ‘Nonstandard’ is indeed very different from ‘any reasonable definition of “wrong.”‘
- Irregardless is a word, Manos, The Hands of Fate is a film and Scientology is a religion.
- Irregardless is a word—a bad word that makes people sound both pretentious and stupid. Just like how “ain’t” makes people seem emphatic and casual.

INERT PROMPTS, ASKME

2004

# irregardless of the adjective. [Quoting an off-site source.]
Irregardless of which is a bigger sacrifice

2005

* And yeah, “orientate” makes my teeth hurt as much as “irregardless.” “Disorientated” would follow, yes? Yikes! [Question about usage.]
* Irregardless .ne. {any word} [Question about "I could care less" usage.]
irregardless of a coworker’s opinion
* Every time I see everytime (one word), I want to pull my hair out. Other peeves include laxadaisical for lackadaisical, amperstamp for ampersand, and irregardless for regardless. [Peeve chatfilter.]
* “Irregardless” always kills me. [This and the next three all in response to a peeve question, apparently all independent reports.]
* Irregardless really irks me.
* Irregardless, when people tell me it isn’t a word.
* Irregardless.

2006

Irregardless of whether your girlfriend seeks therapy or not
it happens irregardless of the pets actual age
* I’ll never use “literally” when I mean “figuratively,” irregardless of what Merriam Webster says. [Question about auto-antonyms.]
* irregardless = regardless [ditto]
Irregardless, you should take the job
# I don’t know about that link that irregardless gave you [Reference to user named 'irregardless']
irregardless of gender
# the article that irregardless linked [ditto, in a different thread]
Irregardless, whether you have film or ccd
irregardless of size or color
irregardless of sexual activity.
Irregardless, this sounds like a very unhealthy pattern
poisonous assumptions, that irregardless of the person’s actually guilt

2007

irregardless of the root psychological issues
* If this thread were about people saying “getting jewed,” “irregardless,” or even “liberry,” there wouldn’t be a big backlash defending them.
Expect to be eligible for dozens of credit card offers irregardless.
irregardless of the years of careful parenting.
# I think irregardless has it with “idioms.” [Another reference to the user.]
irregardless of it’s wear
* The way she described it, it sounds like something that she knows is nothing more than a pet peeve. Like you fart in your sleep, or you use the word irregardless.
irregardless of whether they have left a message
irregardless of power or avarice.
irregardless of children in the relationship
* “irregardless” instead of “regardless” [Question about mispronunciations.]

2008

* I once had a boss who didn’t understand the difference between “fiscal” and “physical”, so he would say things like, “We need to be physically responsible this quarter. Physical with an F.” He also frequently said “do a 360″, “irregardless”, and “for all intensive purposes.” Dick made over 250K a year.
* Irregardless. [Peeve question.]
* Irregardless [ditto]
* Let them write whatever illiterate crap they want, in the certain and secure knowledge that trying to prevent it won’t make any difference, irregardless. [In thread about "in re"]
irregardless of whether you agree with it.
you will live a wonderful and satisfying life irregardless.
irregardless of how they are ‘socially’ marked
irregardless of location.
irregardless of any circumstances
* It’ll keep keep you from raging when people say ‘irregardless’ or describe foods as ‘yummy’ (which frankly makes me want to kill myself.) [Question about coping with roomies.]
This is irregardless of condoms.
irregardless of the gift.

2009

Irregardless of the porn/snooping/gayness
irregardless of the circumstances of the pregnancy.
* Regardless and irregardless, though irregardless is frowned upon. [Question about false antonymns.]

REACTIVE PROMPTS, ASKME

2004

C: Irregardless of your precautions, you will have more problems in the future if you choose to remain with Internet Explorer.
- *snicker*
C: Um, ac, the usage was, in fact, deliberate.

2005

* F: Irregardless of how they say it, they are pacifically referring to Valentime’s Day.
- Irony; irregardless isn’t a word.
- wasn’t fixedgear being pacifically (and consciously) ironic? confused…
- (BUT: the spelling checker let’s “irregardless” go!)
F: Kudos to those who spotted the irony way above.

2006

J: Irregardless, your tuner doesn’t need a copyright to sell the ECU modification.
- Oh, and ‘irregardless’ isn’t a word. :-)
J: gah, I always do that. Funny how the brain is persistent in wiring “irrespective” and “regardless” together despite the number of times I’ve been reminded.

2008

* T: Fucking “irregardless”. For the most part, use of this pseudo word is by people who seem to think an awfully lot of themselves. This one one that makes my brain explode. [Question about commenly misused phrases/expressions]
- I just heard someone say nonplussed in conversation, and thought to myself, ‘Hmm, I do not think that word means what you think it means’…and am pleased to see that I was correct, particularly because the person in question is an insufferable idiot of the type who uses “irregardless” as TomMelee mentions (that one drives me insane).
- 5th’ing fucking irregardless.
- they couldn’t let go of their beloved word, irregardless (jk!) of how ridiculous it was.

* Results 1 – 10 of about 698,000 for irregardless [countering a google defense of "printouts"]
- Stellar argument. Put it in context, will you?

13 thoughts on “Give My Irregards To Mefi

  1. Please do an analysis of “could care less” vs “could not care less” so that we may see how far and fast the progression of illiteracy has spread. A geographic analysis dimension would also be appropriate.

  2. You, sir, deserve accolades for this awesome post! I loathe that word, but this analysis really puts it in perspective. What other words could use this same treatment? I can’t think of any words that elicit the same sort of response – “Irregardless” is the “Comic Sans” of words, apparently.

  3. “Irregardless is not, I don’t think, unique in having this property”

    Jesus, if he were a dick on the internet, would ask: Why do you look at the use of a horrible fake word in your brother’s writing and pay no attention to the double negative that is in your own writing?

  4. You should do this for certain phrases that signal a post will elicit a majority of cliched, useless comments. For example, any music post these days is pretty much unreadable because it devolves into a discussion of your band sucks vs. you suck for judging my tastes vs. no my band doesn’t suck you suck. You could use the phrase ‘your favorite band sucks’ as an indicator of this event taking over a thread, and do some analysis on what percentage of comments after the ‘x band sucks’ remain useful or relevant to the original post.

    I envision the following phrases could be used for this experiment: “LOLXTIANS”, “your favorite band sucks”, “pepsi blue”, “GYOB”, “wendell”.

    I note this because of your statement: “That’s a tremendous amount of reactivity — if such were the case for more than a slim collection of outlier words and phrases, conversation on any topic would be pretty much impossible.” To me, we have reached this point with certain topics. It would interesting to get data like the above about those topics.

  5. Fascinating post! My personal take is that ‘irregardless’ is a timely example of the subtle ways we do stuff with words. And by do stuff, I mean the identity construction, social indexing, metacommentary, etc. that goes on in everyday public speech, somewhat under the radar. I don’t think this is terribly unlike cycles of ‘r’ dropping in east coast dialects. Granted, it doesn’t quite work the same way, but what it can demonstrate about class, power, and social attitudes is quite revealing. And that people feel it important/interesting enough to go on record about it – in the form of reaction – (I would argue) shows that this public reification is meaningful to them on some level. ‘irregardless’ might just be one of those highly metonymic things that people can access easily and do their unconscious ‘social work’ with, ie. in the form of a Response or Reactive Prompt. It could be like a little meme or microcosm of sorts that serves to built solidarity between intellectuals in this totally benign, socially acceptable way. Who knows! But talk about a plate of beans!

    Anyways, very cool stuff and I hope to see you tonight to talk about it some more!

  6. Irregardless of your assertions of all-inclusivity, the fact remains that Metafilter as a historical archive is shot full of gaping holes, many hundreds of comments having been consigned to the bit bucket over the course of time. This is an analysis of merely the irregardus which remain.

  7. Omelet, eggs, breaking, etc.

    An analysis of specifically those comments that have been deleted is on my radar, but it wasn’t really in the scope of this, which took a silly number of hours to accomplish even as is.

  8. I suppose you’ll find the highest deleted/not deleted response ratio in AskMe, since only a response containing additional, hopefully more helpful information than just “gaaahhhh!! irregardless!!!” will (okay, should) remain there, while “irregardless”-response-specific(?) comments will be more likely to avoid deletion in other areas. This is probably also part of the reason for the apparent low response rate in AskMe. And as you mention the older AskMe threads being less aggressively moderated and sometimes more chatty, the deleted/not deleted response ratio should increase over time…? I’d be happy to be proven wrong though, and learn that it’s just a result of commenters in AskMe exercising self-discipline and laying off the snark.
    – you already know all that
    – troutfishing
    – oh, alcohol (to the tune of oh, canada, natch)

  9. Just charting, not condemning. If anything, I’m in the It’s A Word camp, with the standard disclaimer that being aware of the reception specific usages are likely to get is a good survival skill for any careful writer or speaker.

    I wouldn’t use it myself, since I think regardless and irrespective are both fine words that do their jobs well in a way that irregardless doesn’t really add anything to, but, eh.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>