Saikyou (最強) or Saikou (最高): Which Should be Used?

As I wrote in this post, the literal meaning of Saikyou (最強) is the strongest, while that of Saikou (最高) is the highest, as 高 in its word is the Kanji character for “high” in English.

Saikyou (最強) vs. Saikou (最高)

Saikyou or Saikou

According to Goo’s Japanese dictionary, Saikyou (最強) stands for what is the strongest, whereas the definition of Saikou (最高) consists of the following three parts.

  1. Being the highest in terms of status, grade, height, or the like (Ex. 世界最高の山:the world’s highest mountain, 史上最高の競争率:the most highly competitive ever, 最高幹部:top executives)
  2. Having a remarkable degree (Ex. 最高に面白い映画:the best and most fun movie, 今月は最高に忙しかった:this month was the busiest ever, 最高傑作:masterpiece
  3. Being in the most favorable situation/condition or being superb (Ex. 最高な気分:great feeling, 今日の試合は最高だった:Today’s match was the best.

As you know, Saikou often refers to the best things.

But Japanese people sometimes use the word in the same way as Saikyou (as seen in the following usage examples), which may confuse you.

  • 最強のアイドル/最高のアイドル can translate into English as the prettiest pop idol
  • 最強のラーメン/最高のラーメン → the most delicious ramen
  • 最強の家庭教師/最高の家庭教師 → the most superior tutor

Nonetheless, please remember. Saikyou and Saikou strictly differ in nuance and sometimes can’t be replaced. If I give specific examples,

  • 最強のボクサー is an unbeatable boxer. And he could defeat any opponent.
  • 最高のボクサー is someone’s best boxer. And he might lose the competition.
  • 世界最高の山 is the world’s highest mountain, whereas 世界最強の山 means the world’s strongest mountain, which makes no sense.


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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