diminutive

noun
di·​min·​u·​tive | \ də-ˈmi-nyə-tiv How to pronounce diminutive (audio) \

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 Young Gerd, a common diminutive for Gerhard, found inspiration when the underdog West German team beat Hungary, at the time the world’s greatest team, to win the 1954 World Cup final. Washington Post, 17 Aug. 2021 The blushy pink bonhomie that infuses every aspect of the Little Em’s experience transforms cuteness from a condescending diminutive into something that’s aspirational and inspirational. Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, 24 June 2021 But miraculously, nobody calls Baby Frank by a diminutive. Molly Young, Vulture, 9 Apr. 2021 Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a diminutive yet towering women’s rights champion who became the court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington. Mark Sherman, Fortune, 18 Sep. 2020 Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a diminutive yet towering women's rights champion died Friday at her home in Washington. Star Tribune, 18 Sep. 2020 Spring tends to feature the diminutive, the small-statured and the vertically challenged. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, 7 Aug. 2020 Still, or perhaps because of that, the servers are open-handed with diminutives — sweetheart, dear, friend. Soleil Ho, SFChronicle.com, 27 Dec. 2019 Some use her maiden name, Kingsbury, and her first name was alternately reported as Anne and Nancy—which Jane Austen fans will recognize as a diminutive of the former. Robert Clark, National Geographic, 22 Apr. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The diminutive painting reveals the magnitude of Kahlo’s emotional trauma and perseverance during a prolific career marred by tragedy. Natasha Gural, Forbes, 17 Sep. 2021 But the diminutive 205 GTI still feels tailor-made for driving fun. Tim Pitt, Robb Report, 17 Sep. 2021 Trelon Smith, standing at a diminutive 5′9″, 185 pounds, bullied the Longhorn defense on his way to 75 rushing yards and a third quarter touchdown. Dallas News, 12 Sep. 2021 But 500 years ago, European men were, on average, slightly shorter than their modern counterparts, meaning the shoes’ owner was likely not considered diminutive by the standards of the time. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 Sep. 2021 The diminutive dynamo had a game-high 76 yards rushing and 140 all-purpose yards. BostonGlobe.com, 29 Aug. 2021 The aim is to get as much of that energy as possible into the target capsule, a diminutive sphere filled with the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium mounted inside a cylinder of gold the size of a pencil eraser. Daniel Clery, Science | AAAS, 17 Aug. 2021 That sculpture, which is one of Copenhagen’s most visited tourist attractions, is made of bronze, and features a diminutive mermaid who rests her weight on her right arm while tucking her tail neatly to the other side. New York Times, 17 Aug. 2021 Typically, most deep threats are diminutive in size, possessing small catch radiuses to boot. John Owning, Dallas News, 7 July 2021

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 "to lessen" — more at diminish

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About diminutive

Time Traveler for diminutive

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near diminutive

diminutival

diminutive

dimission

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for diminutive

Last Updated

28 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Diminutive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diminutive. Accessed 15 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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
: indicating small size

diminutive

adjective
di·​min·​u·​tive | \ də-ˈmin-yə-tiv How to pronounce diminutive (audio) \

Kids Definition of diminutive

: very small

More from Merriam-Webster on diminutive

Nglish: Translation of diminutive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of diminutive for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

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!