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

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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 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, "Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87," 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, "A look at Ruth Bader Ginsberg through the years," 18 Sep. 2020 Spring tends to feature the diminutive, the small-statured and the vertically challenged. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, "The big, the bold and the bodacious. Why yellow daisies are the peak of the summer garden," 7 Aug. 2020 Still, or perhaps because of that, the servers are open-handed with diminutives — sweetheart, dear, friend. Soleil Ho, SFChronicle.com, "Oakland’s vibrant Sister signals shift in restaurant culture," 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, "'Lost' book of exquisite scientific drawings rediscovered after 190 years," 22 Apr. 2019 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Listed at 5-10 and 191 pounds, Molden is a diminutive CB who is extremely quick and plays above his weight class. John Owning, Dallas News, "Film room: 3 things we learned from Cowboys-Giants, including Dalton Schultz’s potential next season," 4 Jan. 2021 But that hasn’t stopped Toyota from announcing the diminutive C+pod for Japan. Roberto Baldwin, Car and Driver, "Toyota Eases into EVs with an Ultra-Compact Two-Seater for Japan," 28 Dec. 2020 The diminutive speedster scored 18 touchdowns with 1,640 all-purpose yards that included 75 catches for 1,138 yards and 16 scores along with two kickoff returns for touchdowns. Dennis Victory, al, "Meet the 2020 Birmingham All-Region football team," 26 Dec. 2020 The Fleischers didn’t see why animation needed to remain a diminutive form. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "The Mixed-Up Masters of Early Animation," 21 Dec. 2020 For that reason, there's quite an extensive category for mini toys, which are diminutive accessories inspired by items from the characters' stories. Sian Babish, chicagotribune.com, "The best American Girl accessory," 19 Dec. 2020 In 1962, a diminutive yet big-spirited puppet named Pip the Mouse made his first appearance at the now-shuttered Hess’s department store, capturing the imaginations of young Lehigh Valley residents. Los Angeles Times, "‘Christmas City’ is a real place. And yes, it’s kind of like living in a Hallmark movie," 22 Dec. 2020 Standing only a little over 5 feet in height, Jones more than compensated for his diminutive stature by making rousing speeches, sometimes standing on his desk to be seen. Tom Dillard, Arkansas Online, "OPINION | TOM DILLARD: Arkansas politics not as much fun as they used to be," 14 Dec. 2020 Hydrogen’s diminutive size lets electrons get closer to the nodes of the lattice, augmenting their interactions with the vibrations. Quanta Magazine, "Room-Temperature Superconductivity Achieved for the First Time," 14 Oct. 2020

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 "to lessen" — more at diminish

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Time Traveler for diminutive

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for diminutive

Cite this Entry

“Diminutive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diminutive. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for diminutive

diminutive

noun
How to pronounce diminutive (audio)

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 How to pronounce diminutive (audio) \

Kids Definition of diminutive

: very small

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Comments on diminutive

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