hy·​po·​co·​rism | \ hī-ˈpä-kə-ˌri-zəm How to pronounce hypocorism (audio) ; ˌhī-pə-ˈkȯr-ˌi- How to pronounce hypocorism (audio) \

Definition of hypocorism

1 : a pet name
2 : the use of pet names

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from hypocorism

hypocoristic \ ˌhī-​pə-​kə-​ˈri-​stik How to pronounce hypocorism (audio) \ or hypocoristical \ ˌhī-​pə-​kə-​ˈri-​sti-​kəl How to pronounce hypocorism (audio) \ adjective
hypocoristically \ ˌhī-​pə-​kə-​ˈri-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce hypocorism (audio) \ 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, "When tragedy strikes, give it a good name," 29 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hypocorism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of hypocorism

1850, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for hypocorism

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about hypocorism

Time Traveler for hypocorism

Time Traveler

The first known use of hypocorism was in 1850

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about hypocorism

Statistics for hypocorism

Cite this Entry

“Hypocorism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hypocorism. Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on hypocorism

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hypocorism

Comments on hypocorism

What made you want to look up hypocorism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!