- 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
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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for irrelevantly
"Sidney Page was one of the bridesmaids," he said irrelevantly.K
Mary Roberts Rinehart
Different parts of his life flashed at him, all out of order and irrelevantly.
"Perhaps we ought to go down now," she suggested, irrelevantly.
"I wish I could kiss you, you old angel," she said, irrelevantly.Miss Pat at School
"We have been friends for a great while," he said irrelevantly.An American Suffragette
Isaac N. Stevens
- not relating or pertinent to the matter at hand; not important
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 irrelevantly
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper