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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
diminutive suffix
▪ T'ai Cho was a tall man, more than five ch'i, his height emphasised by the diminutive size of the Clayborn child.
▪ But their diminutive size makes for fun eating.
▪ Their diminutive size makes them suitable for even the smallest, most overcrowded garden.
▪ Halflings are excellent bowmen and stubborn fighters despite their rather diminutive size.
▪ The diminutive size of the headstock suits the overall slender appearance of this guitar perfectly.
▪ Build quality is excellent and, despite the diminutive size of all the controls, they are perfectly usable.
▪ A diminutive figure appeared in the doorway.
▪ Brennan is a diminutive man with a quick smile.
▪ Peter was a shy, diminutive man who seldom said anything to anyone.
▪ And the weather, from one part of this diminutive island to another, is as varied as the people.
▪ But their diminutive size makes for fun eating.
▪ It suited her diminutive stature and delicate features.
▪ The diminutive guard from Arizona dominated the overtime, scoring 10 of the Raptors' 19 points.
▪ The diminutive Mr Dunne, who lived on the second floor of the hotel, was cordial in his way.
▪ The courtroom was the diminutive Carman's stage, where he played carefully to the jury with meticulously prepared gestures and phrases.
▪ Three wore the white coats of the back-room boffin, the fourth was diminutive, little more than a boy.
▪ Reaney also deals with other interesting varieties of surnames based on relationships - those formed from pet names and diminutives.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Diminutive \Di*min"u*tive\, a. [Cf. L. deminutivus, F. diminutif.]

  1. Below the average size; very small; little.

  2. Expressing diminution; as, a diminutive word.

  3. Tending to diminish. [R.]

    Diminutive of liberty.


Diminutive \Di*min"u*tive\, n.

  1. Something of very small size or value; an insignificant thing.

    Such water flies, diminutives of nature.

  2. (Gram.) A derivative from a noun, denoting a small or a young object of the same kind with that denoted by the primitive; as, gosling, eaglet, lambkin.

    Babyisms and dear diminutives.

    Note: The word sometimes denotes a derivative verb which expresses a diminutive or petty form of the action, as scribble.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

late 14c. (noun and adjective), from Old French diminutif (14c.), from Latin diminutivus, earlier deminutivus, from past participle stem of deminuere (see diminish).


a. Very small. n. (context grammar English) A word form expressing smallness, youth, unimportance, or endearment.

  1. adj. very small; "diminutive in stature"; "a lilliputian chest of drawers"; "her petite figure"; "tiny feet"; "the flyspeck nation of Bahrain moved toward democracy" [syn: bantam, lilliputian, midget, petite, tiny, flyspeck]

  2. n. a word that is formed with a suffix (such as -let or -kin) to indicate smallness


A diminutive

Beyond the diminutive form of a single word, a
diminutive can be a multi-word name, such as
"Tiny Tim" or "Little Dorrit". is a word which has been modified to convey a slighter degree of its root meaning, to convey the smallness of the object or quality named, or to convey a sense of intimacy or endearment. A ( abbreviated ) is a grammatical inflection used to express such meanings; in many languages, such inflections can be translated as "little" and diminutives can also be formed as multi-word constructions such as " Tiny Tim". Diminutives are used frequently when speaking to small children or when expressing extreme tenderness and intimacy to an adult. As such, they are often employed for nicknames and pet names. The opposite of the diminutive form is the augmentative.

In many languages, formation of diminutives by adding suffixes is a productive part of the language.

"The Standards Site: Glossary - D to F",
Crown Copyright, 1997-2008, webpage:

A is a diminutive form with two diminutive suffixes rather than one. While many languages apply a grammatical diminutive to nouns, a few—including Dutch, Latin, Polish, Macedonian and Russian—also use it for adjectives and even other parts of speech. In English the alteration of meaning is often conveyed through clipping, making the words shorter and more colloquial. Diminutives formed by adding affixes in other languages are often longer and not necessarily understood as colloquial.

In some contexts, diminutives are also employed in a pejorative sense, to denote that someone or something is weak or childish. For example, one of the last of the Western Roman emperors was named Romulus Augustus, but this was diminuted to "Romulus Augustulus" to express his powerlessness.

Usage examples of "diminutive".

Lady Dulce was small, dainty, diminutive, tiny, miniature, animalcular, microscopic, sub-molecular .

She would be swinging in the midst of them, with one tiny black maiden on the seat beside her, and one little black man with high stomach and shaven poll holding on to the rope behind her, and another mighty Moor in a diminutive white jellab pushing at their feet in front, and all laughing together, or the children singing as the swing rose, and she herself listening with head aslant and all her fair hair rip-rip-rippling down her back and over her neck, and her smiling white face resting on her shoulder.

The bowers and boskages stretched behind them, the artificial lakes and cockneyfied landscapes, making all the region bright with the sense of air and space, and raw natural tints, and vegetation too diminutive to overshadow.

Picture Caption: Diminutive Bunkie learned to improve upon his stature by standing up on his hind legs.

It is a Cruciferous plant, made familiar by the diminutive pouches, or flattened pods at the end of its branching stems.

THE elegant Julia sat in her chamber, with her slaves around her--like the cubiculum which adjoined it, the room was small, but much larger than the usual apartments appropriated to sleep, which were so diminutive, that few who have not seen the bed-chambers, even in the gayest mansions, can form any notion of the petty pigeon-holes in which the citizens of Pompeii evidently thought it desirable to pass the night.

The diminutive ecca, or small horse, became a rough-coated and sturdy little pony in the Kro-lu country.

The woman, aged twenty-two, was pale, diminutive in size, and showed an enormous abdomen, which measured 50 inches in circumference at the umbilicus and 27 inches from the ensiform cartilage to the pubes.

This bull stood six-foot-four at the shoulders, and I thought the gaur was a sort of diminutive goat.

The diminutive florets on its flat disk are so shallow that lepidopterous and hymenopterous insects, with their long proboses, stand no chance of getting a meal.

The figures of the friends, despite their diminutive size, were extremely lifelike and there was real virtuosity in every line of them.

Frascati and Tivoli she inflicted her good-humoured ponderosity on diminutive donkeys with a relish which seemed to prove that a passion for scenery, like all our passions, is capable of making the best of us pitiless.

Grotesque shadows lumbered along the wall, bending around the flame like pteranodon moths about a diminutive candle.

Foul pustules erupted like diminutive volcanoes, only to subside and reappear elsewhere.

I felt quite diminutive and vulnerable under his gaze, rather as I imagine small forest creatures must have felt when, far from the safety of their dens and with no covert nearby in which to shelter, they realized they were being eyed by my raptorial juika-bloth.