Is it grammatically correct to use the word ilk as in, for example, this sentence:

Ilk regardless, whether of noblemen or blackguards, no man has ever. . . .

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ilk as kind or class of people, but the Google definition states ilk as an aforementioned group, that is, it has already been referred to. Is it ok to use the word ilk if the kind has not been mentioned yet?

3 Answers 3


It seems that the word ilk is most commonly used as illustrated here :

In modern use, ilk is used in phrases such as of his ilk, of that ilk, to mean ‘type’ or ‘sort.’


The use arose out of a misunderstanding of the earlier, Scottish use in the phrase of that ilk, where it means ‘of the same name or place.’ For this reason, some traditionalists regard the modern use as incorrect. It is, however, the only common current use and is now part of standard English.

I have also found other example sentences here :

I suspect my old school chums, those who were of the right ilk, went down this path and have continued.

The drive to increase access to universities fits in with New Labour pronouncements on social inclusion and the ilk.

But so it was until it was won by vibrant and brave men of the ilk of Sir George.

I conclude that you could use the word ilk even though the "kind" has not already been mentioned. Though I believe that "Regardless of the ilk..." would be more appropriate.



Regardless of ilk, whether of noblemen or blackguards, no man has ever...


The word ilk is of Germanic origin - originally meaning the same (people). The first example given by the OED is from the year 500CE

eOE (Kentish) Charter: Oswulf & Beornðryð to Christ Church, Canterbury (Sawyer 1188) in N. P. Brooks & S. E. Kelly Charters of Christ Church Canterbury, Pt. 1 (2013) 500 Of ðaem ilcan londe æt Stanhamstede.

The only sense in which it is nowadays used is defined in the OED's category C.

Originally: family, class, set, or lot, esp. in that ilk. Subsequently, in extended use and with other premodifiers: kind, sort.

The two most recent examples, from 1995 and 2005 do not refer to any aforementioned group(s).

*1995 Countryman Summer 96 We have a peony of unknown ilk. 2005
M. Atwood Penelopiad v. 19 Smaller fry, the table-tilters, the mediums, the channellers, people of that ilk. *

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