On the 15th episode of Word Choice Wednesday, we’re going back to the original model this week: comparing synonyms. This time we are looking at the words irrespective versus regardless. We are not touching “irregardless;” it is a real word, but chances are you are using it incorrectly.
Irrespective vs. Regardless
The definition of irrespective is an adjective that refers to not taking something into account; the second definition is “regardless of,” so you can see why they are used interchangeably. The example listed here is “the child benefits irrespective of income levels;” regardless of course describing here without paying attention to the present situation despite prevailing circumstances. The example I found was, “they were determined to carry on regardless.“
As I was doing the research I also found an interesting blog that gets into the etymology of the words and how they have evolved over time from the words ‘regard’ and’ respect,’ and breaking down the suffix and prefix ir- versus -less. We won’t get into all those details, but the article presented an interesting conclusion that I agree with: they say regardless has the idea of ignoring something to which you should have paid attention, while irrespective is dismissing something to which you had no need to pay attention.
I think what it really comes down to is what feels natural for you, and what makes sense here, I use language that they use and what our clients would like me to use that to connect with them you. Don’t get too hung up on which one to use – what really matters is connecting with your audience and using the language that they can relate to the most.