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

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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”
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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

The film makes clear that the soft-spoken, diminutive Ginsburg fought early and hard for gender equality in the courts in her own steadfastly clearsighted way. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, "'RBG' is a love letter to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg," 4 May 2018 Yet, the Flyers’ signing of wide-bodied left winger James van Riemsdyk conjures memories of when the team added another free-agent forward, diminutive Danny Briere, in 2007. Sam Carchidi, Philly.com, "Flyers' James van Riemsdyk signing brings back memories of Danny Briere," 6 July 2018 Small containers sitting by themselves on a large patio will look diminutive and out of place. Tim Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "Pick garden containers that fit your taste and space — but ensure they drain properly," 10 Apr. 2018 The suffix -rel is occasionally diminutive, indicating something young or small. Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, "When good words turn bad," 28 June 2018 But the Electron can afford to be diminutive because it’s built for putting small payloads that weigh between 330 and 500 pounds into low Earth orbit. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "Watch Rocket Lab’s Electron make its first commercial flight," 22 June 2018 The Eagles traded up seven spots and took Pumphrey, a productive but diminutive FBS-level tailback. Jeff Mclane, Philly.com, "Eagles once again eye running backs in NFL draft | Jeff McLane," 20 Apr. 2018 Mia This one crosses cultures, starting as a Scandinavian, Dutch, and German diminutive of Maria (which is often interchangeable with Mary in many countries). Asher Fogle, Good Housekeeping, "The Real Meaning Behind 29 of the Most Popular Baby Names," 6 Jan. 2016 The diminutive dining area has attractive wood accents and metal tables and chairs spread about in café fashion. James Patrick Kelly, idahostatesman, "Boise Pie Co. shows its Southern roots, bakes up delicious desserts," 12 July 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for diminutive

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

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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

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