[ih-rel-uh-vuh nt]


not relevant; not applicable or pertinent: His lectures often stray to interesting but irrelevant subjects.
Law. (of evidence) having no probative value upon any issue in the case.

Origin of irrelevant

First recorded in 1780–90
Related formsir·rel·e·vant·ly, adverb

Pronunciation note

The pronunciation of irrelevant [ih-rel-uh-vuh nt] /ɪˈrɛl ə vənt/, as [ih-rev-uh-luh nt] /ɪˈrɛv ə lənt/, as if spelled irrevelant, is the result of metathesis, the transposition of two sounds, in this case, the [l] /l/ and the [v] /v/. Relevant, the base word, is occasionally subject to the same process. Analogy with words like prevalent and equivalent may play a role. A similar reordering of the [l] /l/ and [v] /v/ consonant sounds, althought not a strict one-to-one metathesis, can be heard for Calvary [kal-vuh-ree] /ˈkæl və ri/ when pronounced [kav-uh l-ree] /ˈkæv əl ri/. Here the transposition is reinforced by the existence of the familiar word cavalry. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for irrelevant

Contemporary Examples of irrelevant

Historical Examples of irrelevant

  • There followed a voluminous screed of irrelevant dissertation.

  • That remark was so irrelevant that one could make no answer to it.

    The Shadow-Line

    Joseph Conrad

  • That was the line of his argument, and it was irrelevant enough to be almost insulting.

    The Shadow-Line

    Joseph Conrad

  • Yet this discursiveness is not so irrelevant to the handful of pages which follow.

    Notes on My Books

    Joseph Conrad

  • You remind me of a passage in my story which I omitted, as irrelevant to the matter in hand.

    David Elginbrod

    George MacDonald

British Dictionary definitions for irrelevant



not relating or pertinent to the matter at hand; not important
Derived Formsirrelevance or irrelevancy, nounirrelevantly, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for irrelevant

1680s, from assimilated form of in- (1) "not, opposite of" + relevant. Related: Irrelevantly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper