irrelevant actor

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Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
I've seen some people call actors who don't receive as much media attention as they used to as "irrelevant". (Example: We post actors and actresses who became irrelevant after their TV shows ended), but Thomas Tompion's question in my thread about my use of "irrelevant" has me wondering if it is slang or not a widely understood meaning across different varieties of English. In my thread, I used "irrelevant actor" to mean an actor who is sinking into oblivion or no longer in the limelight, but Thomas asked me "What is he irrelevant to", so I took it that the intended meaning didn't register with him. Is the meaning of "irrelevant actor" understandable to you?
  • srk

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I don't think it is understandable to me. If you mean unimportant or inconsequential or washed-up, you should choose one of those or a word that says what you mean. (You'd still have to answer the question "inconsequential to what?") I wouldn't be surprised to know that whoever wrote the headline at the link you posted wasn't sure what they mean by "irrelevant". Looking around to see what words other people use is a good idea, but you can't always depend on them, and if it's a fifty-cent word you owe it to yourself to use a dictionary and thesaurus to see that the word really fits.

    (I still like the "sell-by date" phrase in your previous thread.)


    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hello, redgiant

    I'm afraid that "irrelevant actor" means nothing to me:(.

    In context, I might understand "actors who become irrelevant after X has happened". But I would need context to understand it.

    EDIT: cross-posted.


    Senior Member
    English English
    I agree with the Tompion, SRK, and Mrs Loob: I'd need to ask irrelevant to what? or irrelevant in what way?

    For your meaning I'd use has-been or past-their-sell-by-date or if I was feeling a bit kinder ... something a bit kinder:)


    Senior Member
    >>wondering if it is slang or not a widely understood meaning

    Judging by the responses you've received, I'd say your concern about the use of irrelevant in this context is justified. It does seems to be understood in entertainment industries (film, stage, music), but perhaps not in the sense you've described: washed-up.

    You've focused on the public and media perception of an actor:

    >>no longer in the limelight, actors who don't receive as much media attention

    I would note that there is another group whose assessment of an actor may be even more … relevant here: casting directors. Without their support, actors likely won't be considered for/offered/cast in desirable roles. It may be that this development is what causes a previously successful actor to become irrelevant.
    His vacation from acting could have killed his career, since a break for any period of time can make an actor irrelevant. — Kal Penn: Leaving the White House, on, 4/9/10.
    By the way, I would also hyphenate "Oscar nominated."


    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Thank you all~~
    If I hadn't asked you about this, I'd be still using it without realizing that it means nothing except in my head.
    I'll stick with "sell-by date", "washed up" actor and if I forgot these words, I'd simply use "C-list actor".
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