Difference between ‘super’ and ‘superb’ in English

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more.

Both “super” and “superb” are common, but they are not completely interchangeable. Super is used nowadays mostly as an adverb meaning “very, really”, for example:

The food was super delicious. = The food was really delicious.
She was super friendly. = She was very friendly.

Nevertheless, such usage is considered colloquial and should be avoided in formal writing. As an adjective, “super” is an informal way of saying “extremely good”:

We had a super time. = We had a really good time.

However, “super” in this sense is falling out of use and may be considered old-fashioned, so, if you are a non-native speaker, you can safely avoid it.

Superb, on the other hand, means “excellent, outstanding”. It is not informal at all; on the contrary, it is mostly used in formal contexts:

The wine was superb! = The wine was excellent!
The singer amazed us with a superb performance. = The singer amazed us with an outstanding performance.

Also note the difference in pronunciation (“super” is stressed on the first syllable, “superb” on the second):

super US: /ˈsuːpɚ/; UK: /ˈsuːpə/ or /ˈsjuːpə/
superb US: /suˈpɝːb/ or /səˈpɝːb/; UK: /suːˈpɜːb/ or /sjuːˈpɜːb/

By the way, if you haven’t read my guide on how to avoid the most common mistakes in English, make sure to check it out; it deals with similar topics.