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

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 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 diminutive playmaker has been on a whirlwind journey since the 2014/15 campaign. SI.com, "Where Are They Now? Arsenal's Lineup From the Last Time They Won Away Against a Top Six Side," 24 Aug. 2019 Perhaps unknown to many Spurs players, the charming, diminutive Greek had also once been a mad hooper. John Maccormack, ExpressNews.com, "Pete Anton, 94, worked for the Spurs from the very beginning," 24 Aug. 2019 Eric Hunter III, Amador Valley The diminutive Hunter, a junior, busted a kickoff return for a 95-yard touchdown and snatched two interceptions — all in the first half against Antioch. Michael Nowels, The Mercury News, "Friday Night Stars: Monte Vista’s Rutchena, Amador Valley’s Hunter shine in Week 0," 23 Aug. 2019 Necking of all sorts as tourists wait in lines that can easily surpass the one-hour mark just to catch a glimpse of the famously diminutive painting. Todd Plummer, Condé Nast Traveler, "Mona Lisa's New Location Leads to Hours-Long Waits at the Louvre," 15 Aug. 2019 Despite its diminutive size, the Swift 7 is a lot of computer for its $1,699.99 price tag. Dan Seifert, The Verge, "Acer Swift 7 review: thin at all costs," 2 Aug. 2019 The bad news is Edelman is 33 and has a lot of miles, wear and tear on his diminutive (5-11, 198 pounds) body, a result of playing deep into the postseason nearly every season of his 11-year career. oregonlive.com, "Can Tom Brady outrun Father Time? 10 questions for the New England Patriots as training camp opens," 31 July 2019 Do not mess with Jade: The guitar strapped around Jade Bird’s neck looks big enough to hide her in its shadow, but the British singer-songwriter sounds much bigger and tougher than her diminutive stature might suggest. Kevin Williams, chicagotribune.com, "Lollapalooza 2019: Roller skating and Fantastic Negrito takes us to church (without the religion) on day 3," 3 Aug. 2019 Sony’s earbuds are shaped differently and are doing more than Apple’s with the noise-cancelation feature, but the diminutive AirPods case also holds roughly twice the charge that Sony’s can, with up to 24 hours of charge versus about 15 for Sony’s. Mike Murphy, Quartz, "Sony’s new wireless noise-canceling earbuds are so close to being perfect," 29 July 2019

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 and Adjective

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

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Statistics for diminutive

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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 How to pronounce diminutive (audio) \

Kids Definition of diminutive

: very small

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Comments on diminutive

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