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Grace Fleming

Words That Aren't Words

By September 6, 2009

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Some words you use every day are not really words--at least not yet. Words become official members of a vocabulary by sticking it out in common language until dictionary-makers give in. Here are a few that haven't made it yet (but some will):

Okay: Most people are surprised and irked when spell-checkers tell them that okay is not really a word. OK (or O.K.) is the spelling you should use. So where did OK come from? Oddly, some trace it to the presidential campaign of Martin Van Buren. It’s a long story.

Nevermind: Many people will argue that nevermind is a word. I’ll argue back: yes, sort of, but it's not a word that most people understand. It does not mean “disregard” or “don’t consider it any longer,” as many people believe. That expression is correctly written as two words: never mind.

The one-word nevermind is an outdated American noun that means heed—and is only correct in statements like “pay no nevermind to that man behind the curtain.”

Irregardless: This is just not a word. The correct word to use is “regardless.”

Alot: This is not a word, either! The correct phrase is a lot (two words).

Alright: The correct spelling is all right—for now. Alright is a nonstandard version, but it is working its way into our hearts and our dictionaries.


September 7, 2009 at 4:12 pm
(1) ESL STUDENT says:

This is a good piece of information for people who are learning English…..like me!

September 12, 2009 at 8:46 am
(2) writer says:

Nevermind drives me crazy! Two words, people.

January 13, 2010 at 2:52 am
(3) abcdefghijklmnopqratuvwxyz says:

your nevermind paragraph is completely redundant. okay, is also a word, every english teacher in the world say so, are you saying these teacher who have gone to school to teach arent doing their jobs? just because words are not in webster, does not mean they are not words. oh and irregardless, you are right is not a word, but your say the correct word is regardless. you are wrong, when people say ir-prefix-not. so not regardless. before you decide to give out grammer advice and what-not, check your facts, dont use your own opinion.

January 13, 2010 at 10:38 am
(4) homeworktips says:

OKAY is not a word.
NEVERMIND is not a word in common usage. It is a nonstandard word meaning “heed.” Nonstandard basically means it’s not an acceptable word.
IRREGARDLESS is nonstandard, as well.
REDUNDANT means containing unnecessary repetition.
(DONT is not a word, either.)

April 9, 2010 at 12:54 pm
(5) Matt says:

“oh and irregardless, you are right is not a word, but your say the correct word is regardless. you are wrong, when people say ir-prefix-not. so not regardless”

Seriously? This is a train wreck of grammar and punctuation. She is right, “irregardless” is not a word and what you posted makes no sense, “regardless” would be correct in this case.

November 14, 2010 at 7:49 pm
(6) Jay says:

You forgot “conversate”

November 29, 2010 at 8:02 pm
(7) Vincent says:

Are “pronunciate” and “proactive” proper words?

March 25, 2011 at 4:39 pm
(8) Anthony says:

You are wrong about “OK” and “okay.” OK is NOT a word, it is the abbreviation for Oklahoma. “Okay” is the proper spelling in the context of affirmation, and that is FACT. Try getting a doctrine in literature before you post false grammatical information.

March 25, 2011 at 10:42 pm
(9) homeworktips says:

Do you mean a doctorate in literature? Try this article written by the Guide to Grammar. This doctor wrote the article “OK is OK: Language Facts & Figures.”

The real question here about words being words (or not) is not about the ability to convey meaning. The question is whether they are standard or nonstandard, according to the reference books. In the article mentioned above, Dr. Nordquist explains that the editors of The Scribner Handbook for Writers “turn up their noses” at every variety of the word.

April 4, 2012 at 9:06 am
(10) kaotic says:

you said grammer (grammar) but we also need spelling

August 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm
(11) A.C. says:

I thought this was a cute and informative article. I don’t understand how people can get so heated about grammar. I used “alot” in a term paper once and got counted off, so I remember not to use that,ha.

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