hypocorism

noun

1
: a pet name
2
: the use of pet names
hypocoristic adjective
or hypocoristical
hypocoristically adverb

Did you know?

In Late Latin and Greek, the words hypocorisma and hypokorisma had the same meaning as hypocorism does in English today. They in turn evolved from the Greek verb hypokorizesthai ("to call by pet names"), which itself comes from korizesthai ("to caress"). Hypocorism joined the English language in the mid-19th century and was once briefly a buzzword among linguists, who used it rather broadly to mean "adult baby talk"—that is, the altered speech adults use when supposedly imitating babies. Once the baby talk issue faded, hypocorism settled back into being just a fancy word for a pet name. Pet names can be diminutives like "Johnny" for "John," endearing terms such as "honey-bunch," or, yes, names from baby talk, like "Nana" for "Grandma."

Examples of hypocorism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Someone named the fog Karl, but none of our other weather gets a hypocorism. Kevin Fisher-Paulson, SFChronicle.com, 29 Sep. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hypocorism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Late Latin hypocorisma, from Greek hypokorisma, from hypokorizesthai to call by pet names, from hypo- + korizesthai to caress, from koros boy, korē girl

First Known Use

1850, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of hypocorism was in 1850

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near hypocorism

Cite this Entry

“Hypocorism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hypocorism. Accessed 17 May. 2024.

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