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You are entitled to a whopping 40% off the recommended retail price.

As far as I'm concerned, "whopping" is informal here. Is there a formal version of this word, which can stand before a number to indicate that you find that number very big?

P.S. I want to add that what I find interesting about "whopping" is how often it is used RIGHT before a number, while I've mostly seen other adjectives coming before nouns (not number).

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    Are you actually writing advertising copy, or are you interested more generally? Do you want a word for that specific sentence, because it's hard to reconcile an advertisement's exaggeration with good formal English.
    – Stuart F
    Apr 23 at 8:39
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    There's little need for the adjective in formal language. Just say "Your discount is 40%."
    – Barmar
    Apr 23 at 14:20
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    A thesaurus would show you synonyms.
    – RonJohn
    Apr 23 at 14:30
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    Have you considered that the best choice for formal writing might be to omit the intensifier altogether? Apr 24 at 4:37
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    @JohnBollinger I've seen sample essays given by Cambridge, and they do use intensifiers. Apr 25 at 0:58

3 Answers 3

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There are lots of ways. "Substantial" or "significant" both suggest the importance of some number. Statisticians will argue about the exact difference between them

There are lots of words meaning "big", "large", "huge", "massive", "enormous". All could be synonyms of "whopping" in this context. Generally the more hyperbolic, the less formal.

In formal language keep things simple and clear. You just add a separate statement. "This is a large value (compared to previous years)"

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    I want to add that what I find interesting about "whopping" is how often it is used RIGHT before a number, while I've mostly seen other intensifiers coming before nouns (not number). Do the words you suggested do the same thing? Apr 24 at 2:55
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    There is a substantial 40% discount on this item
    – James K
    Apr 24 at 4:43
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Generous would suit the example. It means the quantity is more than necessary or expected, so it keeps the implication of being surprising while being significantly more formal.

The most common use of generous applies to a person who gives more than they're obligated to, and in that case it's a positive reflection of that person, but it doesn't necessarily carry any moral judgement when applied to quantities (though the association is still there).

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According to Merriam-Webster, whopping dates to 1625. It's a real word now.

M-W whopping

American Heritage Dictionary says it's the present participle of whop, to strike with a heavy blow.

AHD whop

If you want a less picturesque expression, you could say "a very large discount of 40%.", or sticking with the sense of whopping, you might say "a striking discount of 40%".

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    OP isn't concerned that it might not be 'real' (whatever that means) - OP is concerned that it's informal, which it undoubtedly is.
    – AakashM
    Apr 23 at 13:11
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    whopping / whacking / thumping / stonking / ... they're all just slang "intensifiers" that never achieved the status of striking. Apr 23 at 15:26
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    I actually know most intensifiers which can stand before a noun. What I find interesting about "whopping" is how often it is used RIGHT before a number, while I've mostly seen other intensifiers coming before nouns (not number). Apr 24 at 3:00
  • A 35% discount can be whopping, huge, generous or enormous, but rarely big. I suspect this is because big is too neutral in tone.
    – Peter
    Apr 24 at 4:12
  • @RonJohn It is certainly used in BrE. In AmE Whoop is used in the same way, as in "whoop his ass".
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 24 at 4:13

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