6

If Kinsella were to go on a binge, he would drink his way down to the last penny of whatever money is available, irrespective of who it belongs to. (The killing frost. Thomas Hayden, 1991)

I think here "regardless of" can be used in place of "irrespective of". It seems "regardless of" covers all the meaning of "irrespective of", but not vice versa.For instance, I think in the following sentence, "regardless of" can not be replaced by "irrespective of":

In the future people will be selected for posts on merit, regardless of gender or race.

What do you think?

8

I would refer to an insightful essay entitled "Regardless v. Irrespective; Regard v. Respect". Lauren, the author, introduces herself as a defense litigator and writes that "In law, we are taught that there are no true synonyms." 1

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.

The full essay has more examples, etymology, and detailed reasoning.

  • What if I want to say "I want to consider all people (both if they are men or women)? How do I use it with regardless or no matter or irrespective or whether? – skan Dec 11 '18 at 11:51
  • 1
    @skan According to the article by Lauren, it seems that "irrespective" would be more appropriate than "regardless" in the example you pose, because the word implies there is no need to pay attention to gender. For example "I want to consider all people, irrespective of their gender", or "I want to consider all people, irrespective of whether they are men or women." As a counterexample, consider "Everyone boarded the lifeboats regardless of gender", implying that gender should have been considered but was not. – Carl Dec 17 '18 at 19:14
  • And what about "I want to consider all people, either men or women"? Does it mean something different from "I want to consider all people, irrespective of their gender" – skan Dec 19 '18 at 19:47
  • Can we also use irrespectively? – skan Dec 20 '18 at 21:00
  • @skan In my experience, the phrase "either A or B" usually implies a binary option. That makes the sentence somewhat confusing because it contradicts itself. On one hand you want to consider all people, but on the other you want to consider either men, or women, but not both. Even if "either A or B" is interpreted as allowing for both A and B simultaneously, the sentence is still somewhat problematic because it divides all "people" into just two categories. I would say it's analogous to "I want to consider all plants, either fruits or vegetables." – Carl Dec 21 '18 at 23:46
2

No. You could certainly use 'irrespective' in that last sentence. It is difficult to think of an example where they would not be interchangeable. Being such a hybrid language which draws vocabulary from a range of sources Anglo-Saxon, Norman French, Latin, Greek etc, English does have an immense vocabulary, which gives you the opportunity to interchange words which makes your writing more enjoyable to read. In this example both words originate from Latin. But if you take pig and pork, or cow and beef, or sheep and mutton, one word in each case is Saxon, the other Norman French. There are multitudinous examples of this kind.

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