Someone described climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge as "すごく怖". Is that supposed to mean cool, awesome (in the modern day positive meaning), and great, or does it mean terrifying?

Weblio doesn't have a dictionary definition, but the corpus examples given seem to suggest it means terrifying.

The main reason I'm wanting to check is that すごい itself used to mean terrible, but now means amazing.


怖い basically just means terrifying/terrified. すごい/すごく here works as an intensifier (="very", "really"). Climbing a bridge is indeed a terrifying thing, and the expression doesn't contain any hidden meanings.

In very limited contexts 怖い might be used to refer to something really extraordinary and awesome (e.g., a godlike FPS game player may be sometimes described as こわちか), but it's fairly slangy.

  • It's similar to how "sick" can describe something ill or (as slang) something cool
    – Nayuki
    Dec 24 '16 at 7:41
  • @Nayuki At the very least, こわちか is a very limited example; personally I've never seen it used to describe something cool. Even then, it would still mean "I'd rather not get near him".
    – Jimmy
    Dec 24 '16 at 8:07

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