Whatevs, a word some might insist isn’t one, is officially in the dictionary. It’s a decision that is riling grammar enthusiasts.
Most of the attention the Oxford English Dictionary’s newest list of words is getting focuses on some new words from the Star Wars universe. Sci-fi fans love the new words like lightsabre, Jedi and even an alternate meaning of force.
But more often over the past few years, ridiculous slang influences some of the selections.
Why did they even need to bother adding such foolishness to a dictionary?
Are they trying to encourage such words?
Actually, they aren’t.
There’s an example I’ve used many times over the years, but it still bears repeating.
The word irregardless is in the dictionary. Why would that be the case, if irregardless isn’t a word?
Merriam-Webster tackled that question with this answer: it meets their requirements for inclusion.
For 200 years, speakers have used irregardless. Sure they meant to say regardless or irrespective. They don’t seem to realize that regardless means what they think irregardless does. Even better, regardless doesn’t include that pesky double negative.
Merriam-Webster acknowledges the word is “generally viewed as nonstandard, or as illustrative of poor education, is likewise not important.”
But then it adds this: “Dictionaries define the breadth of the language, and not simply the elegant parts at the top.”
Whatevs is there, but no one’s forcing anybody to use it.
As you probably guessed, whatevs appeared as an abbreviation of whatever. People use it to express general disinterest in something.
You can choose whether you want to use so annoying a word. Or, you can choose to use something a bit more formal.
At least its appearance in the dictionary guarantees one thing: someone else will know what you’re saying if you do decide on using it.
For their sake, I hope they’ll never need to look it up.