すごい is one of い-adjective we use very frequently, most often in kana form. It is often translated as “extremely” and used in the adverb form, すごく, such as すごおおきい, or “extremely big.”

There are several theories of the origin of the word すごい. The strongest theory is that すごい was derived from an older word ぐ, which meant “super” or “extremely”. At that time, すごい was used to express the sensation and feeling of being very cold - the kind of cold you’d feel in your bones , such as “biting cold”, or “spine chilling.” Over time, すごい extended its current meaning from ぐ, likely because the two words sounded similar, and ぐ has fallen out of use.

Back then, すごい was only used for negative things - however, in current Japanese, it can be used for either positive or negative meaning, although we tend to use it mostly in positive ways. For example, if we say すごひと, that means a “great person” generally. When we want to express something as being “extremely bad”, we tend to use a different い-adjective ひどい, or “awful”, e.g. ひどひと (=awful person).”

Example Sentences
  • romysensei.com はすご!

    romysensei.com is super great!

  • て、すごあめだよ。

    Look, it’s raining extremely hard.