The actress was upset by the news that "irregardless" — which long been stigmatized as a non-word that has the opposite meaning of its intended use — is included in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
Editor's note: We are re-sharing some of the best moments and most important stories of 2020. Although it was a difficult year for nearly all of us, there were also shining moments of light and signs of hope. This was one of them.
We've all been or known one of those people who take grammar very seriously. When the question is about the integrity of the English language, they wouldn't stop themselves from correcting even Shakespeare himself. While they can sometimes come across as rather annoying with their grammar policing, we must admit, they do play an important part in ensuring that the sanctity of the language is maintained to some degree and that matters such as punctuation don't go completely forgotten. Especially now, when it appears as though even the gatekeepers of the English language seem inlined to welcome some new — and some would argue, undeserving — comers into the dictionary.
One such newcomer, or rather its inclusion in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, came as quite the upsetting news for actress Jamie Lee Curtis who turned to Twitter to express her disappointment. "In case you thought 2020 couldn't get any worse, Merriam-Webster just officially recognized 'irregardless' as a word," the star tweeted and her grammar fanatic fans nearly lost it. "I don't want to live on this planet anymore," replied @PinkysPortal while Twitter user Anna Jagielo wrote: "Ugh! It cannot be. It goes against literally everything. A double negative- hate mob mentality."
"Next they'll just say that 'their, they're, and there' are all interchangeable, along with 'your and you're.' Most people believe that to be true already when you see how they post on social media/memes," warned Nick Carter. Actress Suzanne Cryer shared Lee Curtis' dismay as she wrote: "Nooooooooooooooooo. Your right. A suspicious action! It's literally insane! I wish there were less hipsters working at Merriam-Webster. They had better make this 2020 dictionary inflammable or I might burn it." Meanwhile, Twitter user @OneMoreBrian was plagued by another thought. "Christ... after 30 years of being told it's not a word, I know have to reset my language?" they asked.
AYFKM?! 😱 Who's deciding this crap?! 🙄 pic.twitter.com/cnqbkBQhTg— Amee (H.M. for short) Mattarolo (@Imezmereyez) July 6, 2020
While grammar Twitter lamented the supposed decline of the language, some social media users asked the fact-checking website Snopes to verify whether Merriam-Webster dictionary had in fact newly recognized "irregardless" as a word in the English language. As it turns out, "irregardless" — which long been stigmatized as a non-word that has the opposite meaning of its intended use — is indeed included in Merriam-Webster. However, despite gaining new notoriety online, it isn't a new addition. Speaking to NPR on the matter, a Merriam-Webster spokesperson revealed that "irregardless" has appeared in the pages of its Unabridged dictionary edition since 1934.
Moreover, other dictionaries of the likes of Webster’' New World College Dictionary, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, and the Cambridge Dictionary, also recognize "irregardless" as a word. Following the sudden online outrage earlier this year, Merriam-Webster grabbed the opportunity to tease the internet over its disapproval of the term in its July 3 Words of the Week post. "From time to time, it is drawn to our attention that certain parties find it objectionable that we have included irregardless in our dictionary. The outrage presumably springs from our allowing this callow arriviste to rub elbows with other, nobler, words; the very presence of irregardless besmirches such entries as asshead, ninnyhammer, and schnook," the post reads.
We’ll be sure to pass these complaints on to the editors of our 1934 edition.— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) July 2, 2020
"Irregardless is included in our dictionary because it has been in widespread and near-constant use since 1795. We must warn you, gentle readers, that there are some other words which appear for the first time this very same year that we define in our dictionary. Yes! We have allowed entry to such Johnnies-come-lately as bewhiskered, citizenry, and terrorism, all of which have their earliest written evidence the same year as irregardless," it continues. "We do not make the English language, we merely record it. If people use a word with consistent meaning, over a broad geographic range, and for an extended period of time chances are very high that it will go into our dictionary." Well, there you have it, folks. "Irregardless" is here to stay.