1

diminutive

noun di·min·u·tive \ də-ˈmi-nyə-tiv \
Updated on: 14 Nov 2017

Definition of diminutive

1 grammar : a word, affix, or name usually indicating small size : a diminutive (see 2diminutive 1) word, affix, or name
2 : one that is notably small : a diminutive individual

Examples of diminutive in a Sentence

  1. the diminutives “-ette” and “kitchenette”

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

Recent Examples of diminutive from the Web

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.

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").

Origin and Etymology 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 — see diminish

diminutive Synonyms

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms


2

diminutive

adjective

Definition of diminutive

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

diminutively

adverb

diminutiveness

noun

Examples of diminutive in a Sentence

  1. a radio with a diminutive set of speakers

  2. the diminutive suffixes “-ette” and “-ling”

Recent Examples of diminutive from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of diminutive

diminutive Synonyms

Synonyms
bantam, small, dinky, dwarfish, fine, half-pint, Lilliputian, little, pint-size (or pint-sized), pocket, pocket-size (also pocket-sized), puny, pygmy, shrimpy, slight, smallish, subnormal, toylike, undersized (also undersize)
Antonyms
big, biggish, considerable, goodly, grand, great, handsome, husky, king-size (or king-sized), large, largish, outsize (also outsized), overscale (or overscaled), oversize (or oversized), sizable (or sizeable), substantial, tidy, whacking, whopping
Related Words
dwarf, toy; runtish, runty, scrubby, stunted; bitty, inappreciable, infinitesimal, little bitty, micro, microscopic (also microscopical), mini, miniature, miniaturized, minikin, minim, minuscule, minute, pinpoint, teensy, teensy-weensy, teeny, teeny-weeny, tiny, wee, weeny (also weensy); meager (or meagre), niggardly, poor, scant, scanty, scarce, skimp, skimpy, slender, slim, spare, sparse, stingy; deficient, inadequate, insufficient, lacking, wanting; bite-size (also bite-sized), capsule
Near Antonyms
bulky, hefty, hulking, massive, voluminous; boxcar, Brobdingnagian, Bunyanesque, cavernous, colossal, cyclopean, elephantine, enormous, galactic, gargantuan, giant, gigantic, gross, Himalayan, herculean, heroic (also heroical), huge, humongous (also humungous), immense, jumbo, leviathan, mammoth, monolithic, monstrous, monumental, mountainous, pharaonic, prodigious, staggering, stupendous, titanic, tremendous, vast; abundant, ample, appreciable, bountiful, copious, generous, healthy, liberal, plenteous, plentiful; fat, thick; broad, wide; boundless, cosmic (also cosmical), immeasurable, incalculable, infinite; adequate, enough, sufficient

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


DIMINUTIVE Defined for English Language Learners

diminutive

noun

Definition of diminutive for English Language Learners

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

  • : an informal form of a name


diminutive

adjective

Definition of diminutive for English Language Learners

  • : very small

  • linguistics : indicating small size


DIMINUTIVE Defined for Kids

diminutive

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

Definition of diminutive for Students

: very small


Seen and Heard

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