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noun hy·po·co·rism \hī-ˈpä-kə-ˌri-zəm; ˌhī-pə-ˈkȯr-ˌi-\

Definition of hypocorism

  1. 1 :  a pet name

  2. 2 :  the use of pet names

hypocoristic play \ˌhī-pə-kə-ˈris-tik\ or hypocoristical play \-ti-kəl\ adjective
hypocoristically play \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Did You Know?

In Late Latin and Greek, the words hypocorisma and hypokorisma had the same meaning as hypocorism does in English today. They in turn evolved from the Greek verb hypokorizesthai ("to call by pet names"), which itself comes from korizesthai ("to caress"). Hypocorism joined the English language in the mid-19th century and was once briefly a buzzword among linguists, who used it rather broadly to mean "adult baby talk," that is, the altered speech adults use when supposedly imitating babies. Once the baby talk issue faded, hypocorism settled back into being just a fancy word for a pet name. Pet names can be diminutives like our Johnny for John, endearing terms such as honey-bunch, or, yes, names from baby talk, like Nana for Grandma.

Origin of hypocorism

Late Latin hypocorisma, from Greek hypokorisma, from hypokorizesthai to call by pet names, from hypo- + korizesthai to caress, from koros boy, korē girl

First Known Use: 1850

Seen and Heard

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to manage or play awkwardly

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