Just when I had myself believing 2020 couldn’t be any worse, Merriam-Webster went and iced the cake. “She” didn’t skimp with some no-name, off-the-shelf, sugar-free spread – you know the kind I’m talking about that lures you in through your eyes and has you near drooling in the belief that smooth, rich frosting will make the earlier-in-the-day fasting and the dinnertime legumes all worthwhile only to smack reality into your taste buds with that bland, cardboard-like reality that has you hyperbolically scrambling to tap-suck from the water-cooler. Oh no, Ms. Merriam went all in with that mouth-wateringly rich, butter-creamy, wedding-cake-worthy, sugary fondant-laced stuff Megan Markel and her guests were certain to have experienced at the palace. What was I talking about again… ? Oh yeah, how the dictionary people ruined 2020.
You may have missed it amidst all the news of that whole global pandemic thing with hundreds of thousands of lives lost, millions infected across the globe, countries closing their borders, economic meltdown, every major sport coming to a complete halt. We were doing our respective parts to “flatten the curve” being “alone together” en route to “stopping the spread.” But there was the news for all to read. That is . . . if you were willing to allow yourself to see it (and you happen to follow Twitter!).
I’ll grant you . . . reading it was difficult; saying it out loud is still damn near impossible, so I’m just going to have to rip off the bandage and put it in writing and hope for catharsis . . . it’s the only way. So here goes . . . according to Merriam-Webster (and every other dictionary opining on the issue at this point!), “irregardless” is officially an English word. There, I’ve said it. If you’ve not already come to terms with the revelation and don’t want to take my word for it, I completely understand. In fact, if I’d not already double-, nay, triple-checked sources, I wouldn’t take my word for it either. So here you go . . . Merriam-Webster, American Heritage Dictionary, and NPR (“Regardless Of What You Think, ‘Irregardless’ is a Word”). Satisfied? I’m certainly not.
I mean . . . there are so many questions! Is there a time when “regardless” is proper but “irregardless” is not? How can one word be the synonym of its opposite? If “ir-“ means “not” (as it most assuredly still does!), how can “not regardless” equal “regardless”? And . . . if “regardless” itself means “without regard,” wouldn’t “irregardless” then mean “not without regard” or simply “regarding”? What a waste.
I take some solace in the fact that my spell-check’s red bumpy underlining beneath the abomination still reflects my position on this subject – reflecting an appropriately grounded world-view refusing to acknowledge and challenging the propriety of such ridiculousness. My fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Shanker (she may have been “Miss Silbey” at the time since I can’t recall with certainty whether it was before or after she married that year, but I digress . . .) bestowed upon me my hard-earned, much-coveted “Look it Up Club” membership certificate (something having to do with using the dictionary when one didn’t know how to spell a word). The memory of coming to after blacking out one day in her classroom as I went to return my dictionary to the shelf is indelibly etched on my brain (and is likely some strange factor in why this decision by the dictionary people even matters).
Turns out, in a twist of irony, Merriam-Webster actually sponsored the “Look it Up Club.” (Look it up, if you don’t believe me!) You can do as you choose. Me? Regardless, I’m getting off this train before it ever leaves the station. I’m making it official right here and now. . . “Merriam-Webster, you are dead to me!”
“Irregardless” is a word! Hah. You might as well tell me that “ain’t” is a word! [Wait . . . WHAT?!]
ABOUT THOMAS REPCZYNSKI
As a Principal with Offit Kurman’s Commercial Litigation Group, Mr. Repczynski is an Estate and Trust litigator and business litigation lawyer emphasizing will/trust disputes, creditors’ rights enforcement, and B2B business disputes. Together with OK’s legal team now spanning from NYC to Charlotte, North Carolina, Tom provides general counsel to a wide array of businesses (foreign and domestic), associations (local and international non-profits), individuals (personally and in representative capacities), and lenders (traditional and Sharia) in federal, state, and bankruptcy courts as well as ADR and administrative proceedings relating primarily to inheritance-related disputes, general business contract and tort issues, and divorce-impacting bankruptcies. Over the past 30 years, Tom has co-owned and operated an exterior painting business and a used furniture business; clerked in the Starr OIC and interned at both Main Justice and the Court of Federal Claims; chaired two local Bar association Boards, two community architectural review boards (VA and NC), and the Committee of Boy Scout Troop 688. Tom currently chairs the South Fairfax Chamber of Commerce; announces local high school football games; actively supports local dance and musical theater; and umpires Little League games when time allows.
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