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The Debate Over The Word Irregardless. Is It A Word?

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

All right. Let's settle something here. The word irregardless - is it a word or is it not a word? Well, this is a debate that Merriam-Webster is now weighing in on in a tweet saying that it is, in fact, a word. And that has led to a whole lot of reaction online.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Author and English teacher Michelle Ray is not onboard.

MICHELLE RAY: It's not a real word. I don't care what the dictionary says. First of all, it's a double negative, so it's regardless.

MARTIN: And Ray is urging the use of an alternative.

RAY: You say regardless - regardless of the fact. Irregardless means not regardless. And that's not what you're trying to say at all. So why - what - in what context would irregardless make sense? I can't understand it.

GREENE: All right. So then where did the disputed word come from to begin with? Well, here's Baltimore Sun editor John McIntyre.

JOHN MCINTYRE: One linguist has suggested that irregardless - the I-R prefix is meant to make it intensive - even more regardless. I don't know that I buy that, but, you know, it's a word.

GREENE: But Ray and some fellow teachers still feel like it is not a good word or an effective word.

RAY: Just because people say it doesn't make it right. I hope we're not just going down the path of whatever people say is correct. Because I'll still be sitting around watching TV and grading papers going nope, nope, not correct, nope (laughter).

MARTIN: So irregardless - oh, I can't even say that. OK. Irregardless of what the dictionary has to say, Ray will continue trying to persuade her students to steer clear of the word.

RAY: I apologize to Merriam-Webster. I just - I can't live with this one. I can't do it.

MARTIN: And McIntyre looks at it this way.

MCINTYRE: You don't like it - don't use it.

MARTIN: Sounds good to me.

(SOUNDBITE OF KOLOTO'S "CEDAR SHED") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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