Early appearances of "irregardless"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Sun May 6 02:18:27 UTC 2007

The secret files of HDAS contain several exx. of to _unfuck_ "to unsnarl, repair, set right," the earliest from 1971:

  "We are Fates and like to fuck up the lives of people who are determined to unfuck their lives."


Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
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Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Laurence Horn
Subject: Re: Early appearances of "irregardless"

At 6:54 AM -0700 5/5/07, James A. Landau wrote:
>Vendors of word processing packages (I have no idea which one
>started the trend) have out of necessity coined a few "un" words.
>"undelete" which would have apoplexied a previous generation of
>purists but which has the specific meaning of "restore text that was
>removed by a previous DELETE instruction". I suppose "restore" is a
>synonym but lacks the highly specific usage of "undelete".
>"undo" is another common one in this series. Others tend to be
>ad-hoc, such as "unbold". Even the clumsy "ununderline" is possible

Yes, and in fact there's also "unfuck". The possibility of undoing
actions with a click has led to the emergence of a variety of
reversible actions that were previously irreversible ("unerase" as
well as "undelete"). Thus consider "unsort", which used to be
(predictably) entropic and redundant (or pleonastic, if you prefer) =
'sort out':

NFL playoff picture clearer with two weeks left
It shouldn't be too difficult to unsort the playoff possibilities
with two weeks left in the regular season: All six teams seem set in
the AFC and the last NFC wild-card slot appears to be the only
uncertainty. But this has been a strange season and strange things
may yet happen.

As with all ethnography, it is difficult to unsort the meanings of
the actors interviewed from the predispositions and perspectives of
the observers (Manning, 1995)

Police Work and Culture in a Nonurban Setting: An Ethnographic Analysis
Wendy Christensen, Boise State University

While it is difficult to unsort the many overlapping factors
contributing to homelessness, agencies were asked to indicate what
they knew to be contributing factors for people utilizing the service
But now we find 144,000 google hits for "unsort", the vast majority
referring to a processing which does indeed reverse/undo a sorting,
typically via a randomizing program. As one site explains, "Unsort
is the inverse of 'sort': it randomizes the order of the lines in a

(Don't bother to look for cites in the OED; neither variety of
"unsort" is listed.)

>Also don't overlook "1984" in which the "Newspeak" language decided
>that, uh, political correctness required the existence of exact
>antonyms. "Bad" is not an exact antonym for "good" so Newspeak
>coined the word "ungood" (along with "plusungood" and

If I remember correctly, it's not that "ungood" was intended to
co-exist alongside "bad", but that it was intended to replace it.
Wasn't it more that "bad" itself was politically incorrect, and that
there *was* hence no _bad_ in the realm of Ingsoc?


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