Magazine August 24, 2020, Issue

It Ain’t a Word!

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It’s been a tumultuous few weeks in English-usage circles. People are upset over the question whether *irregardless is a word. (My asterisk, as you may remember from earlier columns, marks it as nonstandard.) The widespread hand-wringing was precipitated by a jaunty online post by an editor at Merriam-Webster. She noted that *irregardless (she didn’t use the asterisk) is a recognized word. It’s in the dictionary.

Linguistic amateurs exploded: They’d spent years disparaging *irregardless. I received at least a dozen e-mails asking whether I was aware that *irregardless had now been sanctioned in Merriam-Webster dictionaries. “What an outrage!” one correspondent said. Had

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Bryan A. Garner — Mr. Garner is the author of The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation, Garner’s Modern English Usage, and The HBR Guide to Better Business Writing.

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