Welcome to an English lesson which will also massively help your everyday life: learning the meaning of relevant vs. irrelevant! Let’s start with definitions and synonyms, then dive into examples — illustrated as always by my hand-drawn educational cartoons. Here we go…
“Relevant” Definition and Synonyms
The meaning and synonyms of the adjective “relevant” are as follows: related, on-topic, connected, helpful, applicable, pertinent, supporting, fitting, apropos, to the point, apt, linked, or germane. Basically, if someone says something is relevant, it means that it logically fits with the statement or question that went before it. Relevant sentences are helpful and move things forward. They don’t leave people confused or frustrated.
Examples of “Relevant” in Sentences
Want to use the word “relevant” correctly in a sentence? Here are some examples:
“Is it going to rain today? That is relevant information for my plan to cover myself in mud outside.”
“Even though Shakespeare’s plays were written hundreds of years ago, they’re still relevant to our interests today — including funny bathroom humor jokes!”
Common Phrases With the Word “Relevant”
“Relevant evidence” means supporting evidence which is on-topic. This concept is used in trials in court when lawyers try to prove someone innocent or guilty. Meanwhile, we English teachers use this phrase to help students find quotes from a text which prove a claim. For example, you could prove that a story’s character named Lila is a rude, mischievous girl by quoting the relevant evidence: “Lila tripped Mark, then cackled with laughter when he crashed into the ground.”
“Relevant experience” is a term used often in job ads or resumes to mean work experience that directly applies to the new job. For example, having worked for three years as a part of a company that tests time machines could be relevant experience in applying to a job writing about the past.
“Relevant costs” is a fancy term in accounting for expenses that are the result of a manager’s choice and can change in the future, versus costs that are required or already sunk.
To “stay relevant” usually means to stay hip and cool, even when getting older.
“Irrelevant” Synonyms and Meaning
The definition and synonyms of the adjective “irrelevant” are as follows: unrelated, off-topic, random, disconnected, not applicable or pertinent, peripheral, beside the point, or extraneous. Basically, if someone says something irrelevant, it is so random and out of the blue that it leaves you exclaiming, “HUH? What does that have to do with anything?!” Irrelevant sentences are usually not helpful, and often leave people befuddled and frustrated.
Examples of “Irrelevant” in Sentences
Here are some ways to use the word “irrelevant” correctly in a sentence:
“The fact that I’m wearing an octopus on my head is totally irrelevant to the fact that I’m a fabulous singer.”
“It is irrelevant to me whether you want to climb the peak Tuesday or Wednesday — I refuse to go, no matter which day it is.”
Like spelling the word “separate” or “dilemma,” the letter order of “relevant” can be tricky to remember, because the pronunciation sounds more like the word is spelled “relavant” or “irrelavant” with an “a” — even though it’s not. It’s even more confusing because “relevant” means “related” which DOES have an “a” after the “l.”
Here’s a way to keep the spelling straight: the word “relevant” is about things that are on the SAME topic, so remember that the two letters surrounding the “L” are BOTH “e” — in other words, they’re the SAME letter on either side of the tallest point in the middle of the word.
Relevant and Irrelevant in Sum
I hope this exploration of relevant and irrelevant has been illuminating, and also my socks are purple. Hey — did you catch that irrelevant detail? Did the fact about my socks make you say, “Whaaa?” Yes — another word for “irrelevant” is: “Raaaandom!!!”
In summary, a statement that is irrelevant will leave you exclaiming, “HUH?! That’s off topic!” and a relevant sentence feels logical and helps move things forward. Do check out more words that make you sound smart, and send any requests for what you want me to illustrate and explain next!
The author and artist, Lillie Marshall, is a National Board Certified Teacher of English and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. All art on this site is original and hand-drawn by Lillie. She launched DrawingsOf.com Educational Cartoons in 2020, building upon the success of her other two sites, AroundTheWorldL.com (established 2009) and TeachingTraveling.com (founded 2010). Subscribe to Lillie’s monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media to stay connected!