Is it true that the prefix 超 to mean “very” is seldom used in written works (like novels, not counting direct speech), and is usually only used when talking?

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    It's definitely very colloquial and even slangish. Is that what you meant?
    – Boaz Yaniv
    Commented Jun 11, 2011 at 17:37
  • Pretty much depends on your definition of "written works", as I'm sure it is featured in every other page of any given issue of Egg Magazine ;-) Aside from that: I would never use it in any formal or semi-formal communication. In fact, even in speech, it tends to make you sound like a trashy teenage girl, so use with caution.
    – Dave
    Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 3:07
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    @Pacerier: as everyone else has pointed out (and I was joking about), the problem is that "written works" (even novels) can exist in any style. There are a whole bunch of contemporary Japanese novels written (afaik) in very colloquial Japanese. These do not make it any less colloquial. So your question makes more sense on a formal vs. colloquial scale (and the answer is: as colloquial as you can get without being outright rude ;-) [btw, did not get the notification for your comment]
    – Dave
    Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 4:13

2 Answers 2


It depends on what kind of written works you consider.

As Boaz wrote in a comment on the question, 超 (ちょう) meaning “very” is very colloquial. It is highly unlikely to see it in formal contexts, written or spoken.

However, this does not mean that 超 (also written チョー or ちょー) is not used in written Japanese. See latest search results on Google of "超", "チョー" and "ちょー" (but note that not everything in the results is this usage).

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    @Pacerier: sometimes writers, including Japanese ones, use free indirect speech which means a completely conversational language can appear outside of quotation marks.
    – Boaz Yaniv
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 9:05

We should also note that while 超- meaning "very" is colloquial, 超- meaning "super" or "above" (the "original" meaning of the kanji) is entirely acceptable as a prefix in a literary work. In fact, many words rely on it:

超大国 【ちょうたいこく】 superpower, as in US or USSR during the Cold War (from WWWJDIC)

大国 is a word in its own right - 超- is just a prefix.


This answer was kind of an addendum, but has been upvoted a bit (thanks!). I still agree with Tsuyoshi Ito's answer of "no you shouldn't use it in written works" as long as we're talking about the OP's meaning of "very".

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