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

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Other Words from hypocorism

hypocoristic \ ˌhī-​pə-​kə-​ˈri-​stik How to pronounce hypocoristic (audio) \ or hypocoristical \ ˌhī-​pə-​kə-​ˈri-​sti-​kəl How to pronounce hypocoristical (audio) \ adjective
hypocoristically \ ˌhī-​pə-​kə-​ˈri-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce hypocoristically (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."

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

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The first known use of hypocorism was in 1850

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Cite this Entry

“Hypocorism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hypocorism. Accessed 25 May. 2020.

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