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[ih-rel-uh-vuh nt] /ɪˈrɛl ə vənt/
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
Related forms
irrelevantly, adverb
Pronunciation note
The pronunciation of irrelevant
[ih-rel-uh-vuh nt] /ɪˈrɛl ə vənt/ (Show IPA)
[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/
[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 Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for irrelevant
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • All sorts of irrelevant matter might be adduced here—gossip, suspicion, unsupported statement.

    The Day of Judgment Joseph Hocking
  • Yet this discursiveness is not so irrelevant to the handful of pages which follow.

    Notes on My Books Joseph Conrad
  • It is irrelevant whether Pythagoras was Greek and whether his geometry was original with him.

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

    David Elginbrod George MacDonald
  • Whether both mother and friend really have this quality in them is irrelevant as regards the patient.

British Dictionary definitions for irrelevant


not relating or pertinent to the matter at hand; not important
Derived Forms
irrelevance, irrelevancy, noun
irrelevantly, 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
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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
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