diminutive

noun
di·​min·​u·​tive | \də-ˈmi-nyə-tiv \

Definition of diminutive 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 grammar : a word, affix, or name usually indicating small size : a diminutive (see diminutive entry 2 sense 1) word, affix, or name

2 : one that is notably small : a diminutive individual

diminutive

adjective

Definition of diminutive (Entry 2 of 2)

1 grammar : indicating small size and sometimes the state or quality of being familiarly known, lovable, pitiable, or contemptible used of affixes (such as -ette, -kin, -ling) and of words formed with them (such as kitchenette, manikin, duckling), of clipped forms (such as Jim), and of altered forms (such as Peggy) — compare augmentative

2 : exceptionally or notably small : tiny a diminutive performer

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from diminutive

Adjective

diminutively adverb
diminutiveness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for diminutive

Adjective

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

Did You Know?

Just as diminish means "to grow smaller", diminutive means "very small". When writing about language, diminutive as both an adjective and a noun refers to particular endings and the words made with them to indicate smallness. In English, such endings include -et and -ette (piglet, dinette, cigarette, diskette) as well as -ie and -y (doggy, bootie, Bobby, Debbie). However, diminutives are more common in many other languages. Outside of language, diminutive is used for many things, including people ("She noticed a diminutive figure standing shyly by the door"), but often not very seriously ("We were served some rather diminutive rolls").

Examples of diminutive in a Sentence

Noun

the diminutives “-ette” and “kitchenette” dik-diks, the diminutives of the antelope family

Adjective

a radio with a diminutive set of speakers the diminutive suffixes “-ette” and “-ling”
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For parents that really want to find a deeper meaning, Jack was a diminutive of John from the Middle Ages. Asher Fogle, Good Housekeeping, "The Real Meaning Behind 29 of the Most Popular Baby Names," 6 Jan. 2016 The businessman asked to be identified by the diminutive of his first name, Abdu. Washington Post, "Syrians in Raqqa afraid, angry, frustrated as they rebuild," 8 Apr. 2018 Both Carnegie libraries in Unionville and Springfield were designed by Edward L. Tilton, in an Italian Renaissance Revival style, essentially rendering the Unionville library a diminutive of the Springfield library, Alderman said. Jordan Otero Sisson, courant.com, "Unionville Marks 100th Anniversary of Carnegie Library," 16 Aug. 2017 The restaurant in Alexandria where Mr. Youssef got his start was called Samakmak, an affectionate diminutive of samak, Arabic for fish. Ligaya Mishan, New York Times, "A Different Kind of Alexandria Library, at Little Egypt," 2 Mar. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Most are repurposed fullbacks, who tend to be diminutive, quick, and useless in the air. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "To Premier League Defenders, Defending Is Only Half the Job," 20 Sep. 2018 Seeing Eli stare down a bunch of jerks while holding the raygun, his diminutive stature backlit by hot pink lights, feels like a triumphant hero moment à la Eleven saving Mike from the bullies in Stranger Things. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "Kin: If you can’t pick your family, hopefully you can find space weapons," 1 Sep. 2018 The United States census says the average household has three people, so the diminutive Hyundai will serve couples or young families well. Tom Voelk, New York Times, "26 Vehicles Played in the Mud. Here’s the Dirt.," 12 July 2018 Sudfeld chucked a deep pass to diminutive receiver Rashard Davis, but Roberts ran with him step for step and the ball sailed long. Jeff Mclane, Philly.com, "Eagles practice observations: Carson Wentz does more (again); Sidney Jones intercepts; De'Vante Bausby gets some looks," 29 May 2018 Five years ago, the Rams made Tavon Austin the eighth pick in the NFL draft, envisioning that the diminutive but speedy receiver would develop into one of the league's most productive playmakers. Gary Klein, latimes.com, "Rams part with Tavon Austin and fulfill team needs in late draft rounds," 29 Apr. 2018 The diminutive Alabama receiver reached behind the head of Southern Miss defender Jasper Faulk to bring in the ball at the 1-yard line and key an Alabama comeback. Josh Bean, AL.com, "Jackson-Olin 2019 LB gets first offer from SEC school," 12 Jan. 2018 Maurice Acker displayed a toughness that belied his diminutive frame. Ben Steele, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Golden Eagles Alumni band together for opening win in The Basketball Tournament," 30 June 2018 The band, led by diminutive singer Rubén Albarran, performed 90 minutes of fan favorites, alternative hits and more. Dave Acosta, Billboard, "From Farruko to Bomba Estereo and Gucci Mane: Neon Desert Music Festival's Best Moments," 28 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'diminutive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of diminutive

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for diminutive

Noun

Middle English diminutif, from Medieval Latin diminutivum, alteration of Late Latin deminutivum, from neuter of deminutivus, adjective, from deminutus, past participle of deminuere — see diminish

Adjective

see diminutive entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about diminutive

Share diminutive

Statistics for diminutive

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for diminutive

The first known use of diminutive was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for diminutive

diminutive

noun

English Language Learners Definition of diminutive

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a word or suffix that indicates that something is small

: an informal form of a name

diminutive

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of diminutive (Entry 2 of 2)

: very small

linguistics : indicating small size

diminutive

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

Kids Definition of diminutive

: very small

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on diminutive

What made you want to look up diminutive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

noxious or harmful

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a-traditional-thanksgiving-dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!