The decision has sparked a huge debate over the inclusion of what some consider a nonsensical word.
Just months after Microsoft Word put an end to the long-running debate over one space or two after a period (one space won out), the literary world is abuzz again with a new controversy. This time, it comes in the form of the word "irregardless," which has been considered a nonsensical word by some for ages.
Merriam-Webster has renewed the intense debate over whether or not "irregardless" is a real word by officially deciding that it is.
Despite the heavy volume of polite letters and messages they get expressing displeasure at the very existence of the word, the dictionary has defined it. The word was first known to be used in 1795 and is defined as meaning "regardless."
“The reason we, and these dictionaries above, define irregardless is very simple: it meets our criteria for inclusion. This word has been used by a large number of people (millions) for a long time (over two hundred years) with a specific and identifiable meaning ("regardless"). The fact that it is unnecessary, as there is already a word in English with the same meaning (regardless) is not terribly important; it is not a dictionary's job to assess whether a word is necessary before defining it.”
Merriam-Webster Editor Peter Sokolowski said,
"The trick is to remember that acknowledging existence and endorsing worth are not the same thing." https://t.co/6phtsxKL2w— Peter Sokolowski (@PeterSokolowski) July 4, 2020
The reaction Merriam-Websters’ decision has sparked a massive debate online with writers, readers, and regular folk all weighing in.
You can now use IRREGARDLESS in peace, it's officially recognised as an English word.— N☀️ma. Not Normal! (@NomaSapien_) July 7, 2020
I understand the notion that a dictionary confers legitimacy on words and so the desire is to keep it pure in some way. And the objection to irregardless is that it breaks some fundamental rule of logic. But the English language is actually full of illogical things.— Mark Wright (@jmarkwrite) July 7, 2020
If Merriam-Webster ever adds “subbosably” to the dictionary, I’m out. #irregardless— Rachel D. (@MsRachD) July 7, 2020
Finding out that Merriam-Webster has officially recognized “irregardless” as a word is exactly why I’m going to take an edible and go back to bed for the rest of the day.— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) July 6, 2020
Irregardless of the fact Merriam-Webster's (and American Heritage and Oxford dictionaries) considers ‘irregardless’ as a word... if you use it, WE CAN’T BE FRIENDS! #irregardless— Antjuan Tobias (@AntjuanTobias) July 7, 2020
In case you thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse, Merriam-Webster just officially recognized “irregardless” as a word.😱— Jamie Lee Curtis (@jamieleecurtis) July 6, 2020
that article states that the definition of of "irregardless" is "regardless". but the prefix "ir" means "not". By including this word in the dictionary - that the definition of a thing is the same as its opposite, you've introduced a lexical paradox into the language.— Jim Williams (@JimWzzbzz) July 1, 2020
If only there were a way to harness the energy of people who get worked up about “irregardless” (which, contrary to the meme that states its inclusion in dictionaries is new, has been included in most major dictionaries, including MW’s, for DECADES) for something useful.— Steve Kleinedler (@SKleinedler) July 6, 2020
Despite the word getting an official inclusion and definition in the dictionary, it looks like the debate is far from settled. With everything else going on in the world right now, we don't know how long the debate will rage on, though plenty of people seem very worked up.
Irregardless, it looks like the word will not be going anywhere anytime soon.
Where do you fall on the "irregardless" debate? Is it a word, a slang term, or a complete travesty of the English language? Sound off in the comments.