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Is "huge" slightly informal?

In the following sentence,

First, some people insist that Japan doesn’t need to adopt [an] austerity policy because it has a huge amount of assets at home and abroad.

I felt the word "huge" was inappropriate, thinking that it was too informal for this context. (Whereas if someone said "OMG, I have a bloody huge hangover", "huge" wouldn't be too informal)

However, meaning 1 of huge in wiktionary and dictionary.com don't describe it as slangy or informal.

Am I mistaken in thinking that it's informal? Perhaps I only think it's informal because it's a popular word in informal speech because you can lengthen the "u".

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I chuckled at the lengthened 'u' part of your question. In other words, "huge" is not informal, but "huuuuuuuuuge" is. I'd concur with that :^) – J.R. Aug 12 '12 at 9:15

I don't regard "it has a huge amount of assets" as informal, but I do regard it as bad writing, and would instead say "it has huge assets". Note, besides not regarding it as informal, I also don't regard it as formal, nor would I regard it as formal if a synonym such as major, substantial, significant were substituted. All of those quantities are quite indefinite, and I think a formal statement (in sense of official statement) should give more-precise information about assets or debt.

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Just my opinion, but changing "huge amount of assets" to "substantial assets" would be a huge improvement to the original. +1 – J.R. Aug 12 '12 at 9:17
I don't think the sentence Andrew Grimm cited could be regarded as a formal or official statement. However, I agree that that 'huge assets' is too indefinite. 'Huge assets' are of little significance if they are offset by 'huge liabilities'. But perhaps this was discussed subsequently in the source. – StoneyB Aug 12 '12 at 14:07
Isn't "assets" a mass noun in this context? – Andrew Grimm Aug 12 '12 at 23:05

It’s probably neither here nor there, but this Google N-Gram makes me wonder whether its perceived slanginess is about its comparative newness:

enter image description here

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It's not a new word. It comes from 'Middle English' which is at least 500 years old. – BillR Aug 12 '12 at 7:19
@BillR It isn’t that huge itself is new. It’s the habit of using it in a huge amount which is recent. – tchrist Aug 12 '12 at 14:30

I don't think it's informal. The informal part of it depends on the way you intonate it. If you intoned it as a long u, it would sound funny and I think informal. But in writing it wouldn't make that big of a difference unless you were writing a play script.

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As a real-life example: In a first draft I described my client's customers as ranging from 'monster manufacturers with a national footprint' down to 'mom-and-pop doughnut shops'. One faction of reviewers objected to 'monster' as too slangy, another faction defended it as residing in the same register as 'mom-and-pop' (they didn't use those terms, but that's what they meant). In the end, the two factions compromised on 'huge'.

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Huge does not seem informal but it does seem a bit emotive. I seems to impart the opinion of the speaker in the example given.

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