Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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".

share|improve this question
    
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
add comment

5 Answers

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.

share|improve this answer
    
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
add comment

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

share|improve this answer
1  
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
add comment

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.

share|improve this answer
add comment

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'.

share|improve this answer
add comment

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.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.