Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sugoi すごい - Meaning

The word sugoi すごい is one of those that show up a lot in anime and yet nobody knows for sure what it really means. Character sees thing, yells sugoi!, whispers sugoi, writes sugoi down on a paper, even, and yet its real meaning remains a mystery. Well, no more!

What sugoi すごい really means is hard to say exactly because it's way too often used as an expression. So you can interpret the translation of sugoi depending on the situation and context as any of these:
  • sugoi すごい
    You're good.
  • sugoi すごい
    That's amazing.
  • sugoi すごい
    Holy fucking shit!
  • sugoi すごい
    I didn't even know the human body could do that.
  • sugoi すごい
    That's a disproportionate quantity of tuna you got there.

As you can see above, the word can be used for anything that's extreme and unusual. It's also written as sugoi 凄い, by the way, with a kanji. And, often, it's pronounced sugeee すげえぇー instead.

Conjugation of Sugoi

As the adjective it is, the word sugoi can be inflected to sugoku 凄く, to be joined with another adjective, or sugokatta 凄かった, to be in the past tense, or even sugokunai 凄くない in the negative. Take a look:
  • kore wa sugoi これはすごい
    This is amazing.
  • kore wa sugokunai? これはすごくない?
    Isn't this amazing?
  • kore wa sugoku nanka nai これは凄くなんかない
    This is not amazing.
  • are wa sugokatta あれは凄かった
    That was amazing.
  • sugoku ureshii 凄く嬉しい
    [I'm] very glad
  • sugoku samui すごく寒い
    [It's] very cold. (samui vs. tsumetai)

Used as an Adjective

Often, though, sugoi is used as an actual adjective for a noun, which changes a normal whatever into an extreme whatever. When this happens, the sugoi stays as sugoi. Remember, it's sugoku when it comes before an adjective, and sugoi if it comes before a noun.
  • sugoi kao すごい顔
    What a weird face. (body parts list)
  • sugoi bakuhatsu すごい爆発
    A powerful explosion.
  • sugoi waza すごい技
    An incredible technique.
  • sugoi katana すごい刀
    A wonderful sword.
  • sugoi posuto すごいポスト
    A very good post.

And so on. So that's the mystery behind the meaning of the word sugoi in Japanese.

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