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noun di·min·u·tive \də-ˈmi-nyə-tiv\

Simple Definition of diminutive

  • : a word or suffix that indicates that something is small

  • : an informal form of a name

Full Definition of diminutive

  1. 1 :  a diminutive word, affix, or name

  2. 2 :  a diminutive individual

Examples of diminutive

  1. the diminutives -ette and kitchenette

  2. <dik-diks, the diminutives of the antelope family>

Origin of diminutive

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



adjective di·min·u·tive

Simple Definition of diminutive

  • : very small

  • linguistics : indicating small size

Full Definition of diminutive

  1. 1 :  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

  2. 2 :  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

14th Century

First Known Use of diminutive

14th century

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

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February 6, 2016

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