Irregular is the opposite of smooth, of ordered, of regular. It's the one that doesn't fit - the verb with a weird conjugation, the tall flower reaching above the the others, or the obnoxiously out-of-place dandelion. Irregular follows no rules. It is texture, interest, and fascination. And it drives the world forward.

Take irregular words. Every language has them. French is famous for its many weird verbs, while written Urdu has imported nouns from Arabic, making the road from singular to plural a windy road indeed. English itself is chock full of irregularities. To be is not simply to be, but changes into ridiculous forms like am, is, and were. Adjectives like good/best and bad/worse make little or no sense. And nouns bear witness of old language influences: man/men has the same umlaut as German, while Latin has given us both the word and the conjugation in virus/viri. It seems like people need difficult languages. All natural ones have their rule-breakers, no matter how different they are otherwise. A sign that a language is dying or artificial is if it contains few of these irregularities. They are the curse of the language learner, but may be the most intriguing for the language scholar.

Regulars is what people who participate regularly in various Internet communities are often called. A Regular is liked and respected by all, they know where they have him, and will never receive any surprises from that direction. An Irregular must then be the opposite. Someone who hasn't been around for so long, who is noisy and contrary. In this community, an Irregular here would be a user who jumps in with a flurry of activity, creating controversial nodes and being silenced in the catbox. What a nuisance!

Not only the Internet, but the whole wide world and its stories are full of irregular people. In fact, they are the ones who seem to be driving the stories forward. Almost every culture has tales about some trickster - a person who does bad things and hurts people. He is seen as a destructor, a bringer of chaos, an undesirable.

Yet it is the irregular who creates stories. Anansi, the lazy but cunning spider-man from Africa (and imported to America), actually brought all the stories to humanity through a series of tricks. His exploits has also given people many a good laugh and taught a few lessons. Another good source of tales is Loki of the Norse mythology. Through his many acts of mischief, this trickster god was the source of many great wonders for the gods. He brought them great gifts, like Thor's hammer and Frey's collapsable ship.

In his made-up mythology of Middle Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien expressly states that all the evil Melkor sought to do simply led to greater things as the Valar attempted to right his wrongdoing. He wrecked their perfect earth, they turned the wreckage into natural beauty. This is reminiscent of the works of the Christian Devil (now that sounds like an oxymoron, but you know what I mean). His temptation led to mankind being thrown out of Eden, but also led to the arrival of a glorious saviour, Jesus. Who, by the way, was another irregular, upsetting all the leading folks of his time.

Those who brought about changes in history, for good or evil, were almost all irregulars. Newton, Columbus, Marx and Hitler were all innovative, new-thinking or rebellious in their own way. With their different way of being, they changed the world. We may turn our backs and close our ears to the irregulars. But they are very much there, and sometimes their irritation does create a pearl.

Ir*reg"u*lar (?), a. [Pref. ir- not + regular: cf. F. irr'egulier.]

Not regular; not conforming to a law, method, or usage recognized as the general rule; not according to common form; not conformable to nature, to the rules of moral rectitude, or to established principles; not normal; unnatural; immethodical; unsymmetrical; erratic; no straight; not uniform; as, an irregular line; an irregular figure; an irregular verse; an irregular physician; an irregular proceeding; irregular motion; irregular conduct, etc. Cf. Regular.

Mazes intricate, Eccentric, intervolved, yet regular Then most when most irregular they seem. Milton.

Leading the men of Herefordshire to fight Against the irregular and wild Glendower. Shak.

A flowery meadow through which a clear stream murmured in many irregular meanders. Jones.

Syn. -- Immethodical; unsystematic; abnormal; unnatural; anomalous; erratic; devious; crooked; eccentric; unsettled; uneven; variable; changeable; mutable; desultory; disorderly; wild; immoderate; intemperate; inordinate; vicious.


© Webster 1913.

Ir*reg"u*lar, n.

One who is not regular; especially, a soldier not in regular service.


© Webster 1913.

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