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Apparently there are so many ways to write {かっこいい}.

Hiragana/katakana only:

  • かっこいい
  • カッコいい
  • カッコイイ

EDICT:

  • 格好いい
  • かっこ好い

Other possible variants:

  • 格好良い
  • かっこ良い
  • カッコ良い
  • 格好好い
  • 恰好いい (notice that a different initial kanji is used)
  • ...

In general, which is the most commonly used variant? Are there also specific places where one variant is preferred over the others (including the common one)?

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8 Answers 8

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Some native feelings about the different spellings:

  • かっこいい is neutral
  • カッコイイ, カッコいい or anything with katakana looks like written by someone pretending to be young
  • かっけえ is frequently heard from young people. When a high-school student writes this in school, it would be corrected to かっこいい
  • 恰好いい looks sixty years old-fashioned.
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格好良い is also neutral but much more formal. I guess 格好好い is grammatically correct, but it is so rare that I suspect the writer is trying to be fancy when I see it. –  yhirai Jun 8 '11 at 4:31

So you have 2 ways to write it: かっこいい & かっこういい The only variants I encountered in mangas until now were: カッコイイ and 格好いい (the latter is long, as you can also see, when you write かっこう and presse enter, you'll get the kanji's, but not if you write only かっこ)

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In general, people will use the hiragana version かっこいい. If you talk with friends and use 格好いい, they'll most likely be thrown off for a bit.

かわいい has a similar usage, with the reason being that just using hiragana makes it feel "cuter" since children without kanji experience are more likely to use it.

It's important to note that you might also find the net-slang version littered about message boards and other popular sites かっけえええええ. Because it's slang, you shouldn't use it around people you don't know though!

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かっこいい and カッコいい seem to be more common in dialog, while 格好いい is more common in prose. If you were quoting someone or writing an informal email, tweet, etc., you would probably use かっこいい or カッコいい. But if you were writing from a third-person perspective, you would probably use 格好いい.

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かっこいい is the one to go for. The ones with katakana add emphasis and can be used as you like. Edict often has strange results and isn't to be trusted completely.

I think if I was going to use the 良い kanji, I'd probably go for 格好良い (which is a little different, the 格好 being かっこう). I would have thought the meaning for 格好いい was more "nice appearance" than "cool".

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In my dictionary I only get these variants:

  • 格好いい

    This variant as a reading かっこいい and an alternate reading かっこういい (note the う);
  • かっこ好い

    The reading is かっこいい.
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Google fight! (I'm lazy.)

  • かっこいい 58,800,000
  • カッコイイ 31,200,000
  • カッコいい 26,900,000
  • かっけえ 8,940,000 (bonus!)
  • 格好いい 5,860,000
  • 格好良い 5,700,000
  • カッコ良い 2,830,000
  • かっこ良い 863,000
  • 恰好いい 189,000
  • 格好好い 7,530
  • かっこ好い 4,090

I think anything below a million here is pretty much not used.

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But I got 346,000 for かっこ好い, but even that it's still strange to dismiss an entry from EDICT .. –  Lukman Jun 7 '11 at 16:22
    
@Lukman, I think you need to put quotes like "かっこ好い", when you search. –  YOU Jun 7 '11 at 16:28
1  
@Lukman: Did you encapsulate it in double quotes? Google will search for alternate kanji unless you tell it to search for the exact characters you enter by putting it in like this: "かっこ好い" –  Derek Schaab Jun 7 '11 at 16:30
1  
But t3h Google cannot lie! ;) It may not be hard proof, but it's still better than pure speculation or anecdotal evidence from a handful of native speakers. Imagine asking a question like this 20 years ago... –  Derek Schaab Jun 7 '11 at 16:33
1  
See my comment about the unreliability of Google hits in the comments of the answer posted by 'YOU'. –  Kef Schecter Oct 27 '11 at 18:38

かっこいい is only the result on the one of my Japanese-English dictionary and has most hit according on Google search results. So I would like to assume かっこいい most commonly used one.

And there is now decent one char (unicode) variant for かっこいい, which is "△"

"本田△" → 本田さんかっけい(三角形) →  本田さんカッコイイ

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3  
lol, the △ is net slang! Most regular Japanese people have never heard of it. I've only ever seen it at ニコニコ動画 –  Jeshii Jun 7 '11 at 20:27
    
Number of google hits is not a reliable metric for judging the general popularity of a word or phrase. It is possible to make a google search claim thousands or even millions of hits, but then you scroll down and see there are only three pages of results (30 or so hits). –  Kef Schecter Oct 27 '11 at 18:36

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