noun di·min·u·tive \də-ˈmi-nyə-tiv\

: a word or suffix that indicates that something is small

: an informal form of a name

Full Definition of DIMINUTIVE

:  a diminutive word, affix, or name
:  a diminutive individual

Examples of DIMINUTIVE

  1. the diminutives -ette and kitchenette
  2. <dik-diks, the diminutives of the antelope family>


Middle English diminutif, from Medieval Latin diminutivum, alteration of Late Latin deminutivum, from neuter of deminutivus, adjective, from deminutus, past participle of deminuere
First Known Use: 14th century

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms

ablaut, allusion, anacoluthon, diacritic, gerund, idiom, infinitive, metaphor, semiotics, simile



: very small

linguistics : indicating small size

Full Definition of DIMINUTIVE

:  indicating small size and sometimes the state or quality of being familiarly known, lovable, pitiable, or contemptible —used of affixes (as -ette, -kin, -ling) and of words formed with them (as kitchenette, manikin, duckling), of clipped forms (as Jim), and of altered forms (as Peggy) — compare augmentative
:  exceptionally or notably small :  tiny <a diminutive performer>
di·min·u·tive·ly adverb
di·min·u·tive·ness noun

Examples of DIMINUTIVE

  1. a radio with a diminutive set of speakers
  2. the diminutive suffixes -ette and -ling

First Known Use of DIMINUTIVE

14th century


bantam, small, dinky, dwarfish, fine, half-pint, Lilliputian, little, pint-size (or pint-sized), pocket, pocket-size (also pocket-sized), puny, pygmy, shrimpy, slight, smallish, subnormal, toylike, undersized (also undersize)
big, biggish, considerable, goodly, grand, great, handsome, husky, king-size (or king-sized), large, largish, outsize (also outsized), overscale (or overscaled), oversize (or oversized), sizable (or sizeable), substantial, tidy, whacking, whopping

Synonym Discussion of DIMINUTIVE

small, little, diminutive, minute, tiny, miniature mean noticeably below average in size. small and little are often interchangeable, but small applies more to relative size determined by capacity, value, number <a relatively small backyard>. little is more absolute in implication often carrying the idea of petiteness, pettiness, insignificance, or immaturity <your pathetic little smile>. diminutive implies abnormal smallness <diminutive bonsai plants>. minute implies extreme smallness <a minute amount of caffeine in the soda>. tiny is an informal equivalent to minute <tiny cracks formed in the painting>. miniature applies to an exactly proportioned reproduction on a very small scale <a dollhouse with miniature furnishings>.

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms

ablaut, allusion, anacoluthon, diacritic, gerund, idiom, infinitive, metaphor, semiotics, simile
DIMINUTIVE Defined for Kids


adjective di·min·u·tive \də-ˈmin-yə-tiv\

Definition of DIMINUTIVE for Kids

:  very small


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