Is "humongous" a word?

Hell, yeah, it’s a word. If people use it with a consistent meaning, it’s a word whether it’s in the dictionary or not. Since I’ve never heard anyone use “humongous” without meaning “huge”, I’d classify it as an American English slang term, not limited to a specific in-group. Now here’s the fun…who feels like looking up the origins of “humongous”? My bet is that it’s 60s or 70s California surfer slang that then hit the rest of the country during the “Valley Girl” craze of the early 80s.

Link to Mailbag Article: Is “humongous” a word?

[Note: This message has been edited by CKDextHavn]

Here you are: .
Your theory is actually pretty good.


I’m 36 and I’ve lived in So. Cal. my whole life. “Humongous” has been in my vocabulary for as long as I can remember. Unlike other surf-culture expressions (boss, kook, dude, bitchin’, rad, etc*.), “Humongous” is a term that can now be (and is) used by the general public with no fear of sounding cliquish or dated.

If it’s not in many dictionaries, it should be. It conveys a sense of extreme enormity that no other word in english does. It also implies that the subject is not only large, but freakish, as well. The first usage was probably along the lines of “That wave was humongous!”, meaning that not only was the wave large, it was also unnatural and scary. It’s also used well as exagerative teen-speak, as in “I have a humongous zit” (Not only is the zit large, it is ugly and deformative.)

*None of these terms are even used by surfers anymore.

Aon Dia.
Aon Tir.
Aon Ite.

Sure it is. There is an old film by that name. I know cause I saw it at the store and my best friend’s sister is the star in it…all she says is AHHHHHARRRRRRG.

For what it’s worth, my “Broadcast News Manual of Style, 2nd Edition” claims the word is a combination of ‘huge’ and ‘tremendous.’

I admit that explanation seems a little strange; where does the ‘mong’ part come from? The word should be ‘hugmendous’ or perhaps ‘tremenuge.’

The Style Guide also says the word is slang and should be avoided, so you probably won’t find your local news anchor saying it – unless, maybe, you’re in southern California :slight_smile: