In language structure, a diminutive, or diminutive form (abbreviated ), is a formation of a word
In language, a word is the smallest free form that may be uttered in isolation with semantic or pragmatic content . This contrasts with a morpheme, which is the smallest unit of meaning but will not necessarily stand on its own...

 used to convey a slight degree of the root meaning, smallness of the object or quality named, encapsulation, intimacy, or endearment. It is the opposite of an augmentative
An augmentative is a morphological form of a word which expresses greater intensity, often in size, but also in other attributes...


While many languages apply the grammatical diminutive to nouns, a few also use it for adjectives and even other parts of speech
Lexical category
In grammar, a part of speech is a linguistic category of words , which is generally defined by the syntactic or morphological behaviour of the lexical item in question. Common linguistic categories include noun and verb, among others...


Diminutives are often used for the purpose of expressing affection (see nickname
A nickname is "a usually familiar or humorous but sometimes pointed or cruel name given to a person or place, as a supposedly appropriate replacement for or addition to the proper name.", or a name similar in origin and pronunciation from the original name....

 and hypocoristic
A hypocorism is a shorter form of a word or given name, for example, when used in more intimate situations as a nickname or term of endearment.- Derivation :Hypocorisms are often generated as:...

). In many languages, the meaning of diminution can be translated "tiny" or "wee", and diminutives are used frequently when speaking to small children; adult people sometimes use diminutives when they express extreme tenderness and intimacy by behaving and talking like children. (See Apocopation).

In some languages, diminutives are formed in a regular way by adding affixes to nouns and proper name
Proper name
"A proper name [is] a word that answers the purpose of showing what thing it is that we are talking about" writes John Stuart Mill in A System of Logic , "but not of telling anything about it"...

s; in English the alteration of meaning is often conveyed through clipping
Clipping (morphology)
In linguistics, clipping is the word formation process which consists in the reduction of a word to one of its parts . Clipping is also known as "truncation" or "shortening."...

, either alone or combined with an affix.
English diminutives tend to be shorter and more colloquial than the basic form of the word; diminutives formed by adding affixes in other languages are often longer and not necessarily colloquial.

In many languages, formation of diminutives by adding suffix
In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs...

es is a productive
Productivity (linguistics)
In linguistics, productivity is the degree to which native speakers use a particular grammatical process, especially in word formation. Since use to produce novel structures is the clearest proof of usage of a grammatical process, the evidence most often appealed to as establishing productivity is...

 part of the language. All nouns, not just proper nouns can be diminuted. The word "diminutive" is used in a narrower and less vague sense here than when referring to English. The basic meaning of diminution in these languages is "smallness of the object named"; endearment, intimacy, etc. is secondary and dependent on context. For example, the name of one the last Roman emperors of the western part of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

Romulus Augustus
Romulus Augustus
Romulus Augustus , was the last Western Roman Emperor, reigning from 31 October 475 until 4 September 476...

—was diminuted to Romulus Augustulus (little Augustus) to emphasise the contrast between the grandness of the name and political insignificance of its bearer; in this case the connotation of diminution is derogatory, not endearing.

A double diminutive is a diminutive form with two diminutive suffixes rather than one.


Productive diminutives are not common in Standard English in comparison with many other languages. For example, one comparative study found that English uses diminutives infrequently in comparison with the Czech language. Nevertheless, most dialects of English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 feature a fair lot of sidling
Collateral adjective
A collateral adjective is an adjective with a similar meaning to a given noun, but derived from a different root. For example, lunar serves as an adjective to describe attributes of the Moon; moon comes from the Old English mōna and lunar from the Latin luna...

 and sibling diminutives. Terms such as "movie" for "moving picture" are oft-heard terms in English.

Sometimes a diminutive lengthens the original word: e.g., "hottie" to denote a sexually appealing (or "hot") young man or woman. (Note that analogous expressions in languages in which diminution is a regular part of the grammar would not be called diminutives.) Diminutives of first names are often encountered, e.g., Maggie (from Margaret), Sally (from Sarah), or Suzie (from Suzanne); however, they also function as nicknames.

English has also borrowed liberally from other languages when producing new diminutives: e.g., -ette is from French. However, some of those lexicalized
In psycholinguistics lexicalisation is the process of going from meaning to sound in speech production.The most widely accepted model, speech production, in which an underlying concept is converted into a word, is at least a two-stage process...

 and, in many contexts, do not function as proper diminutives in modern English.
English diminutives
  • -k/-ock/-uck: bollock, bullock, buttock, fetlock
    Fetlock is the common name for the metacarpophalangeal and metatarsophalangeal joints of horses, large animals, and sometimes dogs. It is formed by the junction of the third metacarpal or metatarsal bones proximad and the proximal phalanx distad...

    , hillock
    A hillock or knoll is a small hill, usually separated from a larger group of hills such as a range. Hillocks are similar in their distribution and size to small mesas or buttes. The term is largely a British one...

    , mattock
    A mattock is a versatile hand tool, used for digging and chopping, similar to the pickaxe. It has a long handle, and a stout head, which combines an axe blade and an adze or a pick and an adze .-Description:...

     (OE mattuc), mullock, pillock, stalk, whelk
    Whelk, also spelled welk or even "wilks", is a common name used to mean one or more kinds of sea snail. The species, genera and families referred to using this common name vary a great deal from one geographic area to another...

    , yolk
  • -n/-en/-on (accusative or feminine): chicken
    The chicken is a domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl. As one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, and with a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird...

    , kitten
    A kitten is a juvenile domesticated cat.The young of big cats are called cubs rather than kittens. Either term may be used for the young of smaller wild felids such as ocelots, caracals, and lynx, but "kitten" is usually more common for these species....

    , maiden
    Maiden or Maidens may refer to:* A female virgin; see virginity* Maiden name, the family name carried by a woman before marriage; see married and maiden names* Maiden, the first of the three aspects of the Triple Goddess...

  • -le (defrequentative -l): puddle
    A puddle is a small accumulation of liquid, usually water, on a surface. It can form either by pooling in a depression on the surface, or by surface tension upon a flat surface...

    , sparkle
  • -ish (disparative): largish, reddish, smallish, tallish
  • -s (degenitive): Becks
    David Beckham
    David Robert Joseph Beckham, OBE is an English footballer who plays midfield for Los Angeles Galaxy in Major League Soccer, having previously played for Manchester United, Preston North End, Real Madrid, and A.C...

    , Betts
    Elizabeth (given name)
    Elizabeth is a feminine given name derived from the Greek Elisávet , which is a form of the Hebrew name Elisheva , meaning "My God is an oath" or"My God is abundance."...

    , Wills
  • -sie/-sies/-sy (babytalk assimilative or from patrici- of Patsy): bitsy, footsie (1930), halfsies, onesies, popsy (1860), teensy-weensy, tootsie
    Tootsie is a 1982 American comedy film that tells the story of a talented but volatile actor whose reputation for being difficult forces him to go to extreme lengths to land a job. The movie stars Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange, with a supporting cast that includes Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman,...

     (1854), twosies, Betsy, Patsy
    Patsy is a given name often used as a diminutive of the feminine given name Patricia or sometimes the masculine name Patrick, or occasionally other names containing the syllable "Pat" or "Pet" .-Historical usage:...

    , Robsy
  • -o (American devocative, later Commonwealth): bucko, daddio, garbo
    Waste collector
    A waste collector is a person employed by a public or private enterprise to collect and remove refuse and recyclables from residential, commercial, industrial or other collection site for further processing and disposal...

    , kiddo, smoko
    "Smoko" is a term used in Australian English, New Zealand English and Falkland Islands English for a short, often informal, cigarette break taken during work or military duty, although the term can also be used to describe any short break such as a rest or a coffee/tea break...

    , wacko, Jacko, Ricko
    The first or given name Richard derives from German, French, and English "ric" and "hard" , therefore it means 'powerful leader' as well as 'King's Court'...

  • -er/-ers/-ster (agentive, intensive, hypocoristic, also elided rhotic -a): bonkers (1948), preggers (1940), starkers (1905), Becker
    Rebecca a biblical matriarch from the Book of Genesis and a common first name. In this book Rebecca was said to be a beautiful girl. As a name it is often shortened to Becky, Becki or Becca; see Rebecca ....

    [s], Lizzers, Hankster, Patster
  • -a (Geordie
    Geordie is a regional nickname for a person from the Tyneside region of the north east of England, or the name of the English-language dialect spoken by its inhabitants...

     assimilative -er): Gazza
    Paul Gascoigne
    Paul John Gascoigne , commonly referred to as Gazza, is a retired English professional footballer.Playing in the position of midfield, Gascoigne's career included spells at Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Lazio, Rangers, Middlesbrough, Everton and Gansu Tianma, where he scored at least a goal...

    , Macca
    Paul McCartney
    Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE, Hon RAM, FRCM is an English musician, singer-songwriter and composer. Formerly of The Beatles and Wings , McCartney is listed in Guinness World Records as the "most successful musician and composer in popular music history", with 60 gold discs and sales of 100...

  • -z (geordie
    Geordie is a regional nickname for a person from the Tyneside region of the north east of England, or the name of the English-language dialect spoken by its inhabitants...

     degenitive -s): Bez, Chaz, Gaz

  • -ling (Norse defrequentative-patrinominative): darling
    Term of endearment
    A term of endearment is a word or phrase used to address and/or describe a person, animal or inanimate object for which the speaker feels love or affection...

    , duck
    Duck is the common name for a large number of species in the Anatidae family of birds, which also includes swans and geese. The ducks are divided among several subfamilies in the Anatidae family; they do not represent a monophyletic group but a form taxon, since swans and geese are not considered...

    ling, fingerling, gosling
    The word goose is the English name for a group of waterfowl, belonging to the family Anatidae. This family also includes swans, most of which are larger than true geese, and ducks, which are smaller....

    , underling
  • -erel/-rel (Francish-Latin comparative, pejorative -(t)eriale): cockerel (1450s), coistrel (1570s), doggerel
    Doggerel is a derogatory term for verse considered of little literary value. The word probably derived from dog, suggesting either ugliness, puppyish clumsiness, or unpalatability in the 1630s.-Variants:...

     (1249), dotterel (15th century), gangrel (14th century), hoggerel, kestrel (15th century), mackerel (1300ish), minstrel (1180), mongrel (1540s), pickerel (1388), puckerel
    Puck (mythology)
    In English folklore, Puck is a mythological fairy or mischievous nature sprite. Puck is also a generalised personification of land spirits. In more recent times, the figure of Robin Goodfellow is identified as a puck.-Etymology:...

    , scoundrel (1589), suckerel, taistrel (18th century, N for E tearstrel: tear+-ster+-rel), tumbrel
    A tumbrel , is a two-wheeled cart or wagon typically designed to be hauled by a single horse or ox. Their original use was for agricultural work in particular they were associated with carrying manure. Their most notable use was taking prisoners to the guillotine during the French Revolution. They...

     (1223), titterel/whimbrel
    The Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus, is a wader in the large family Scolopacidae. It is one of the mostwidespread of the curlews, breeding across much of subarctic North America, Europe and Asia as far south as Scotland....

     (1520s), wastrel (1847)
  • -el/-il/-ille/-l/-le (Norman-Francish lenite -c-/-g- or metathetic -i- dim. -iol-): broil (14th century; F brusle), broil (15th century; VL brodicula), griddle
    A griddle is a cooking device consisting of a broad flat surface that can be heated using a variety of means, and is used in both residential and commercial applications for a variety of cooking operations. Most commonly, the griddle consists of a flat metal plate, but in the non-industrialized...

     (1300ish, ME gridel, F gredil, VL graticula; cognate with E hurdle
    A hurdle is a moveable section of light fence. Traditionally they were made from wattle , but modern hurdles are often made of metal. Hurdles are used for handling livestock, as decorative fencing, for horse racing and in the track and field event of hurdling.-Types:*Traditional hurdles are made...

    ), grille
    A grille or grill is an opening of several slits side by side in a wall or metal sheet or other barrier, usually to let air or water enter and/or leave but keep larger objects including people and animals in or out.-Spelling:In the United States, "grille" is used to differentiate the automotive...

     (1661), jail (1250s; F jaiole, nF gaiole, VL gabiola, L caveola), mail
    Mail (armour)
    Mail is a type of armour consisting of small metal rings linked together in a pattern to form a mesh.-History:Mail was a highly successful type of armour and was used by nearly every metalworking culture....

     (1320; L macula), pill (1400), quail (1300ish; ML quaccula), rail (1320; L regula), rail (1460; VL rasculum), rail (1450s; VL ragula), roll (1300ish), squirrel
    Squirrels belong to a large family of small or medium-sized rodents called the Sciuridae. The family includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, marmots , flying squirrels, and prairie dogs. Squirrels are indigenous to the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa and have been introduced to Australia...

     (1327), toil (1300ish; VL tudicula), trail (1300ish; VL tragula)
  • -et/-ette/-etti/-etto/-it/-ita/-ito/-itta (F-S-I-L defrequentative -itat-): amaretto
    Amaretto is an Italian sweet almond-flavoured liqueur. It is made from a base of apricot or almond pits, sometimes both.-Etymology:The name is a diminutive of the Italian amaro, meaning "bitter," indicating the distinctive flavour lent by the mandorla amara--the bitter almond or the drupe kernel...

    , burrito
    A burrito , or taco de harina, is a type of Mexican food. It consists of a wheat flour tortilla wrapped or folded around a filling. The flour tortilla is usually lightly grilled or steamed, to soften it and make it more pliable. In Mexico, refried beans or meat are sometimes the only fillings...

    , cigarette
    A cigarette is a small roll of finely cut tobacco leaves wrapped in a cylinder of thin paper for smoking. The cigarette is ignited at one end and allowed to smoulder; its smoke is inhaled from the other end, which is held in or to the mouth and in some cases a cigarette holder may be used as well...

    , clarinet
    The clarinet is a musical instrument of woodwind type. The name derives from adding the suffix -et to the Italian word clarino , as the first clarinets had a strident tone similar to that of a trumpet. The instrument has an approximately cylindrical bore, and uses a single reed...

    , courgette, diskette, fajita
    A fajita is a term found in both traditional Mexican cuisine and in Tex-Mex cuisine, commonly referring to any grilled meat served on a flour or corn tortilla. The term originally referred to the cut of beef used in the dish which is known as skirt steak. Popular meats today also include chicken,...

    , falsetto
    Falsetto is the vocal register occupying the frequency range just above the modal voice register and overlapping with it by approximately one octave. It is produced by the vibration of the ligamentous edges of the vocal folds, in whole or in part...

    , faucet (1400ish), gambit
    A gambit is a chess opening in which a player, most often White, sacrifices material, usually a pawn, with the hope of achieving a resulting advantageous position. Some well-known examples are the King's Gambit , Queen's Gambit , and Evans Gambit...

     (1656), kitchenette
    A kitchenette is a small cooking area.In motel and hotel rooms, small apartments, college dormitories, or office buildings a kitchenette usually consists of a small refrigerator, a microwave oven or hotplate, and, less frequently, a sink...

    , marionette
    A marionette is a puppet controlled from above using wires or strings depending on regional variations. A marionette's puppeteer is called a manipulator. Marionettes are operated with the puppeteer hidden or revealed to an audience by using a vertical or horizontal control bar in different forms...

    , minuet
    A minuet, also spelled menuet, is a social dance of French origin for two people, usually in 3/4 time. The word was adapted from Italian minuetto and French menuet, and may have been from French menu meaning slender, small, referring to the very small steps, or from the early 17th-century popular...

    , oubliette, palette, pallet
    A pallet , sometimes called a skid, is a flat transport structure that supports goods in a stable fashion while being lifted by a forklift, pallet jack, front loader or other jacking device. A pallet is the structural foundation of a unit load which allows handling and storage efficiencies...

     (1350s), parquet, poppet
    The word poppet is an older spelling of puppet, from the Middle English popet, meaning a small child or doll. In British Dialect it continues to hold this meaning. Poppet is also a chiefly English term of endearment.-Folk magic:...

     (1300ish), puppet
    A puppet is an inanimate object or representational figure animated or manipulated by an entertainer, who is called a puppeteer. It is used in puppetry, a play or a presentation that is a very ancient form of theatre....

     (16th century), rabbit
    Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world...

     (1380), Sagitta
    Sagitta is a constellation. Its name is Latin for "arrow", and it should not be confused with the larger constellation Sagittarius, the archer. Although ancient, it is insignificant, for it has no star brighter than the 4th magnitude and is the third smallest of all constellations...

    , señorita, spaghetti
    Spaghetti is a long, thin, cylindrical pasta of Italian origin. Spaghetti is made of semolina or flour and water. Italian dried spaghetti is made from durum wheat semolina, but outside of Italy it may be made with other kinds of flour...

    , suffragette
    "Suffragette" is a term coined by the Daily Mail newspaper as a derogatory label for members of the late 19th and early 20th century movement for women's suffrage in the United Kingdom, in particular members of the Women's Social and Political Union...

    , swallet (1660ish), taquito
    Taquito or flauta is a Mexican food dish consisting of a small rolled-up tortilla and some type of filling, usually beef or chicken. The filled tortilla is crisp-fried...

    , towelette, wallet
    A wallet, or billfold, is a small, flat case that is used to carry personal items such as cash, credit cards, identification documents , photographs, business cards and other paper or laminated cards...

  • -ot/-otte (F ablaut or assimilative dim.-defreq. -ultat-): culottes
    Culottes is a word that originated in French. Historically, "culottes" referred to the knee-breeches commonly worn by gentlemen of the European upper-classes from the late Middle Ages or Renaissance through the early nineteenth century. This style of tight pants ending just below the knee was first...

    , harlot (13th century), Charlotte
    - CHARLOTTE :CHARLOTTE is an American blues-based hard rock band that formed in Los Angeles, California in 1986. Currently, they are signed to indie label, Eonian Records, under which they released their debut cd, Medusa Groove, in 2010. Notable Charlotte songs include 'Siren', 'Little Devils',...

    , Diderot, Lancelot
    Sir Lancelot du Lac is one of the Knights of the Round Table in the Arthurian legend. He is the most trusted of King Arthur's knights and plays a part in many of Arthur's victories...

     (1180), Margot, Peugeot
    Peugeot is a major French car brand, part of PSA Peugeot Citroën, the second largest carmaker based in Europe.The family business that precedes the current Peugeot company was founded in 1810, and manufactured coffee mills and bicycles. On 20 November 1858, Emile Peugeot applied for the lion...

    , Pierrot
    Pierrot is a stock character of pantomime and Commedia dell'Arte whose origins are in the late 17th-century Italian troupe of players performing in Paris and known as the Comédie-Italienne; the name is a hypocorism of Pierre , via the suffix -ot. His character in postmodern popular culture—in...

  • -let/-lette (F dim.-defreq.): aglet
    An aglet is a small plastic or metal sheath typically used on each end of a shoelace, cord, or drawstring. An aglet keeps the fibers of the lace or cord from unraveling; its firmness and narrow profile make it easier to hold and easier to feed through the eyelets, lugs, or other lacing...

     (15th century), applet
    In computing, an applet is any small application that performs one specific task that runs within the scope of a larger program, often as a plug-in. An applet typically also refers to Java applets, i.e., programs written in the Java programming language that are included in a web page...

     (1995), booklet (1859), chicklet
    Chicklet are Julie Park and Daniel Barida . Sean Bettam was part of the group from 1997 to 1999. Bettam toured with Chicklet throughout the US to support their first album Wanderlust. Chris Sytnyk recorded on several Chicklet releases including Lemon Chandeliers, Wanderlust and Indian Summer...

     (1886), eyelet (1400), gauntlet
    Gauntlet (gloves)
    Gauntlet is a name for several different styles of glove, particularly those with an extended cuff covering part of the forearm. Gauntlets exist in many forms, ranging from flexible fabric and leather gloves, to mail and fully articulated plate armour....

    , goblet, hamlet
    The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601...

     (15th century), leaflet
    A leaflet in botany is a part of a compound leaf. A leaflet may resemble an entire leaf, but it is not borne on a stem as a leaf is, but rather on a vein of the whole leaf. Compound leaves are common in many plant families...

     (1787), oillet (1350s), omelette
    In cuisine, an omelette or omelet is a dish made from beaten eggs quickly cooked with butter or oil in a frying pan, sometimes folded around a filling such as cheese, vegetables, meat , or some combination of the above...

     (1611), piglet
    -Livestock:* Piglet , the young of the domestic pig* Suckling pig, often consumed as food* Roasted piglet, a Serbian dish of roast meat, not necessarily pork-Other:* Piglet , the fictional character from A. A...

     (1883), roulette
    Roulette is a casino game named after a French diminutive for little wheel. In the game, players may choose to place bets on either a single number or a range of numbers, the colors red or black, or whether the number is odd or even....

     (1734), tablet (1300ish)
  • -ey/-ie/-y (Scottish-Dutch dim., 15th century-on): cookie
    In the United States and Canada, a cookie is a small, flat, baked treat, usually containing fat, flour, eggs and sugar. In most English-speaking countries outside North America, the most common word for this is biscuit; in many regions both terms are used, while in others the two words have...

     (1703), daddy (1500ish), dearie, doggy (1820), girlie (1942), kitty (16th century), laddie (1546), mammy (1520), mommy (1902), mummy (1820), sissy (1846), whitey (1820), Debbie
    Debbie is a fairly common given name, usually feminine, short for Deborah and is popular in most English-speaking countries...

    , Frankie, Frenchy (1820), Johnny
    -Films:* Johnny Angel * Johnny Belinda * Johnny Guitar* Johnny Dangerously* Johnny Handsome* Johnny Be Good* Johnny Mnemonic*Johnny Nitro...

     (1670), Marty
    Marty is a 1953 teleplay by Paddy Chayefsky. It was telecast live May 24, 1953, on The Goodyear Television Playhouse with Rod Steiger in the title role and Nancy Marchand, in her television debut, playing opposite him as Clara...

    , Morty, Nancy
    Nancy (given name)
    -Origins:The name Nancy derives from the Hebrew name Anna, which means "grace". It was originally used as a nickname, but began to be used as a proper name from the 18th century onwards.-People:...

  • -kin (Dutch dim.-acc. -ken/-chen, 15th century-on): bodkin, cannikin, catkin
    A catkin or ament is a slim, cylindrical flower cluster, with inconspicuous or no petals, usually wind-pollinated but sometimes insect pollinated . They contain many, usually unisexual flowers, arranged closely along a central stem which is often drooping...

    , lambkin, manikin
    A manikin is a life-sized anatomical human model used in education. The most famous of these, the Transparent Anatomical Manikin is a three-dimensional, transparent model of a human being, created for medical instructional purposes. The first TAM was created by designer Richard Rush in 1968...

    , napkin
    A napkin, or face towel is a rectangle of cloth used at the table for wiping the mouth while eating. It is usually small and folded...

    , pannikin, ramekin
    A ramekin or ramequin, also known as a bouillon bowl, is a small glazed ceramic or glass serving bowl used for the preparation and serving of various food dishes...

    , welkin (OE wolcen)
  • -kins (hýpocoristic dim.-degen.): Laurakins, Sallykins
  • -leus/-ola/-ole/-oli/-ola/-olo/-olus/-ula/-ule/-uleus/-ulum (Francish-Spanish-Italian-Latin dim., mainly 17th century-on): alveolus, areola
    This article is about the breast tissue. For the entomology term, see the glossary of Lepidopteran terms. For an artistic cloud motif, see aureola. For the cactus feature, see Areole....

    , areole
    Areoles are an important diagnostic feature of cacti, and identify them as a family distinct from other succulent plants. The areoles on cacti are clearly visible; they generally appear as small light- to dark-colored bumps, out of which grow clusters of spines...

    , article, cannoli
    Cannoli are Sicilian pastry desserts. The singular is cannolo , meaning "little tube", with the etymology stemming from the Latin "canna", or reed. Cannoli originated in Sicily and are an essential part of Sicilian cuisine...

    , casserole
    A casserole, from the French for "saucepan", is a large, deep dish used both in the oven and as a serving vessel. The word casserole is also used for the food cooked and served in such a vessel, with the cookware itself called a casserole dish or casserole pan...

    , cerulean
    Cerulean, also spelled caerulean, may be applied to a range of colors from deep blue, sky-blue, bright blue or azure color through greenish blue colors.The first recorded use of cerulean as a color name in English was in 1590...

    , cuniculus, curriculum
    See also Syllabus.In formal education, a curriculum is the set of courses, and their content, offered at a school or university. As an idea, curriculum stems from the Latin word for race course, referring to the course of deeds and experiences through which children grow to become mature adults...

    , Equuleus
    Equuleus is a constellation. Its name is Latin for 'little horse', a foal. It was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy, and remains one of the 88 modern constellations. It is the second smallest of the modern constellations , spanning only 72 square degrees...

    , ferrule
    A ferrule is a name for types of metal objects, generally used for fastening, joining, or reinforcement...

    , formula
    In mathematics, a formula is an entity constructed using the symbols and formation rules of a given logical language....

    , granule, homunculus
    Homunculus is a term used, generally, in various fields of study to refer to any representation of a human being. Historically, it referred specifically to the concept of a miniature though fully formed human body, for example, in the studies of alchemy and preformationism...

    , insula, malleolus
    Each leg is supported by two bones, the tibia on the inner side of the leg and the fibula on the outer side of the leg.The medial malleolus is the prominence on the inner side of the ankle, formed by the lower end of the tibia....

    , majuscule, minuscule, nodule, nucleus, nucleolus
    The nucleolus is a non-membrane bound structure composed of proteins and nucleic acids found within the nucleus. Ribosomal RNA is transcribed and assembled within the nucleolus...

    , particle, pergola
    A pergola, arbor or arbour is a garden feature forming a shaded walkway, passageway or sitting area of vertical posts or pillars that usually support cross-beams and a sturdy open lattice, often upon which woody vines are trained...

    , pendulum
    A pendulum is a weight suspended from a pivot so that it can swing freely. When a pendulum is displaced from its resting equilibrium position, it is subject to a restoring force due to gravity that will accelerate it back toward the equilibrium position...

    , pianola, piccolo
    The piccolo is a half-size flute, and a member of the woodwind family of musical instruments. The piccolo has the same fingerings as its larger sibling, the standard transverse flute, but the sound it produces is an octave higher than written...

    , ravioli
    Ravioli are a traditional type of Italian filled pasta. They are composed of a filling sealed between two layers of thin egg pasta dough and are served either in broth or with a pasta sauce. The word ravioli is reminiscent of the Italian verb riavvolgere , though the two words are not...

    , raviolo, reticle, reticule, reticulum, spatula
    The term spatula is used to refer to various small implements with a broad, flat, flexible blade used to mix, spread and lift materials including foods, drugs, plaster and paints...

    , tarantula
    Tarantulas comprise a group of often hairy and often very large arachnids belonging to the family Theraphosidae, of which approximately 900 species have been identified. Some members of the same Suborder may also be called "tarantulas" in the common parlance. This article will restrict itself to...

    , vacuole
    A vacuole is a membrane-bound organelle which is present in all plant and fungal cells and some protist, animal and bacterial cells. Vacuoles are essentially enclosed compartments which are filled with water containing inorganic and organic molecules including enzymes in solution, though in certain...

    , vinculum, vocable
    In speech, a vocable is an utterance, term, or word that is capable of being spoken and recognized. A non-lexical vocable is used without semantic role or meaning, while structure of vocables is often considered apart from any meaning...

  • -eau/-el/-ella/-elle/-ello/-il/-illa/-ille/-illo/-le (F-S-I-L bidim.; E -kin): armadillo
    Armadillos are New World placental mammals, known for having a leathery armor shell. Dasypodidae is the only surviving family in the order Cingulata, part of the superorder Xenarthra along with the anteaters and sloths. The word armadillo is Spanish for "little armored one"...

    , bordello, bureau, castle
    A castle is a type of fortified structure built in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages by European nobility. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble...

     (OE castel, <1000), codicil, espadrille, flotilla
    A flotilla , or naval flotilla, is a formation of small warships that may be part of a larger fleet. A flotilla is usually composed of a homogeneous group of the same class of warship, such as frigates, destroyers, torpedo boats, submarines, gunboats, or minesweepers...

    , limoncello
    Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur mainly produced in Southern Italy, especially in the region around the Gulf of Naples, the Sorrentine Peninsula and the coast of Amalfi and islands of Procida, Ischia and Capri, but also in Sicily, Sardinia, Menton in France, and the Maltese island of Gozo...

    , mantle
    Mantle (clothing)
    A mantle is a type of loose garment usually worn over indoor clothing to serve the same purpose as an overcoat...

    , Monticello
    Monticello is a National Historic Landmark just outside Charlottesville, Virginia, United States. It was the estate of Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence, third President of the United States, and founder of the University of Virginia; it is...

    , morsel, organelle
    In cell biology, an organelle is a specialized subunit within a cell that has a specific function, and is usually separately enclosed within its own lipid bilayer....

    , pastel
    Pastel is an art medium in the form of a stick, consisting of pure powdered pigment and a binder. The pigments used in pastels are the same as those used to produce all colored art media, including oil paints; the binder is of a neutral hue and low saturation....

    , pencil
    A pencil is a writing implement or art medium usually constructed of a narrow, solid pigment core inside a protective casing. The case prevents the core from breaking, and also from marking the user’s hand during use....

    , pestle, quadrille
    Quadrille is a historic dance performed by four couples in a square formation, a precursor to traditional square dancing. It is also a style of music...

    , quarrel
    A quarrel or bolt is the term for the ammunition used in a crossbow. The name "quarrel" is derived from the French carré, "square", referring to the fact that they typically have square heads. Although their length varies, they are typically shorter than traditional arrows.Bolts and arrows have...

    , rowel (1344), scintilla, vanilla
    Vanilla is a flavoring derived from orchids of the genus Vanilla, primarily from the Mexican species, Flat-leaved Vanilla . The word vanilla derives from the Spanish word "", little pod...

    , violoncello
  • -ina/-ine/-ini/-ino (F-S-I simulative, mainly 1750s-on; E -like or -ling as adj. but cognate with -ing as n. or adj.): bambino, coquina
    Coquina is a sedimentary rock that is composed either wholly or almost entirely of the transported, abraded, and mechanically sorted fragments of the shells of either molluscs, trilobites, brachiopods, or other invertebrates. For a sediment to be considered to be a coquina, the average size of the...

    , doctrine
    Doctrine is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system...

     (1350s), domino, farina, figurine
    A figurine is a statuette that represents a human, deity or animal. Figurines may be realistic or iconic, depending on the skill and intention of the creator. The earliest were made of stone or clay...

    , linguine
    Linguine is a form of pasta — flat like fettuccine and trenette. It is wider than spaghetti, about 1/4 to 3/8 inch, but not as wide as fettuccine. The name linguine means "little tongues" in Italian, where it is a plural of the feminine linguina. Linguine are also called trenette or bavette...

    , maraschino
    Maraschino .The liqueur's distinctive flavor comes from the Marasca cherries, and the crushed cherry pits lend an almond-like flavor to Maraschino...

    , marina
    A marina is a dock or basin with moorings and supplies for yachts and small boats.A marina differs from a port in that a marina does not handle large passenger ships or cargo from freighters....

    , neutrino
    A neutrino is an electrically neutral, weakly interacting elementary subatomic particle with a half-integer spin, chirality and a disputed but small non-zero mass. It is able to pass through ordinary matter almost unaffected...

    , palomino
    Palomino is a coat color in horses, consisting of a gold coat and white mane and tail. Genetically, the palomino color is created by a single allele of a dilution gene called the cream gene working on a "red" base coat...

    , tambourine
    The tambourine or marine is a musical instrument of the percussion family consisting of a frame, often of wood or plastic, with pairs of small metal jingles, called "zils". Classically the term tambourine denotes an instrument with a drumhead, though some variants may not have a head at all....

    , zucchini
    The zucchini is a summer squash which often grows to nearly a meter in length, but which is usually harvested at half that size or less. It is a hybrid of the cucumber. Along with certain other squashes, it belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo. Zucchini can be dark or light green...

  • mini- (commercial miniature compound): minibar, miniblind, miniboss, minibus
    A minibus or minicoach is a passenger carrying motor vehicle that is designed to carry more people than a multi-purpose vehicle or minivan, but fewer people than a full-size bus. In the United Kingdom, the word "minibus" is used to describe any full-sized passenger carrying van. Minibuses have a...

    , minicar (1949), minicassette
    The Mini-Cassette, often written minicassette, is a tape cassette format introduced by Philips in 1967. It is used primarily in dictation machines and was also employed as a data storage for the Philips P2000 home computer...

     (1967), minicomputer
    A minicomputer is a class of multi-user computers that lies in the middle range of the computing spectrum, in between the largest multi-user systems and the smallest single-user systems...

     (1963), minigame
    A minigame is a short video game often contained within another video game. A minigame is always smaller or more simplistic than the game in which it is contained. Minigames are sometimes also offered separately for free to promote the main game...

    , minigun
    The Minigun is a 7.62 mm, multi-barrel heavy machine gun with a high rate of fire , employing Gatling-style rotating barrels with an external power source...

    , minimall, minimarket (1965), minimart, mini-nuke, minischool, miniseries
    A miniseries , in a serial storytelling medium, is a television show production which tells a story in a limited number of episodes. The exact number is open to interpretation; however, they are usually limited to fewer than a whole season. The term "miniseries" is generally a North American term...

     (1974), miniskirt
    A miniskirt, sometimes hyphenated as mini-skirt, is a skirt with a hemline well above the knees – generally no longer than below the buttocks; and a minidress is a dress with a similar meaning...

     (1965), minitower
    Computer case
    A computer case is the enclosure that contains most of the components of a computer...

    , minivan
    Minivan is a type of van designed for personal use. Minivans are typically either two-box or one box designs for maximum interior volume – and are taller than a sedan, hatchback, or a station wagon....

    , miniver (1250), mini-LP
    A Mini-LP or Mini-album is a short album, usually retailing at a lower price than an album that would be considered "full-length".-History:...

    , mini-me, MiniDisc
    The disc is permanently housed in a cartridge with a sliding door, similar to the casing of a 3.5" floppy disk. This shutter is opened automatically by a mechanism upon insertion. The audio discs can either be recordable or premastered. Recordable MiniDiscs use a magneto-optical system to record...


In Lowland Scots
Scots language
Scots is the Germanic language variety spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster . It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language variety spoken in most of the western Highlands and in the Hebrides.Since there are no universally accepted...

 diminutives are used much more frequently than in some other forms of English. The diminutive is formed by the suffix -ie, -ock, -ockie (double diminutive) or –ag (the latter from Scottish Gaelic, and probably influencing the other two before it). -ie is by far the most common prefix used.

Examples include
  • -ie: burnie (small burn
    Burn (stream)
    In Scotland, North East England and some parts of Ireland and New Zealand, burn is a name for watercourses from large streams to small rivers. The term is also used in lands settled by the Scots and Northern English in other countries, notably in Otago, New Zealand, where much of the naming was...

    ), feardie or feartie (frightened person, coward), gamie (gamekeeper), kiltie (kilt
    The kilt is a knee-length garment with pleats at the rear, originating in the traditional dress of men and boys in the Scottish Highlands of the 16th century. Since the 19th century it has become associated with the wider culture of Scotland in general, or with Celtic heritage even more broadly...

    ed soldier), mannie (man), Nessie (Loch Ness Monster
    Loch Ness Monster
    The Loch Ness Monster is a cryptid that is reputed to inhabit Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. It is similar to other supposed lake monsters in Scotland and elsewhere, though its description varies from one account to the next....

    ), postie (postman), wifie (woman)
  • -ock: bittock (wee bit, little bit), playock (toy), sourock (sorrel
    Common sorrel or garden sorrel , often simply called sorrel, is a perennial herb that is cultivated as a garden herb or leaf vegetable...

  • -ag: Cheordag (Geordie
    Geordie is a regional nickname for a person from the Tyneside region of the north east of England, or the name of the English-language dialect spoken by its inhabitants...

    ), bairnag (small child)
  • -ockie: hooseockie (little house), wifockie (little woman)


In Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

, the diminutive is formed by adding one of the suffixes
An affix is a morpheme that is attached to a word stem to form a new word. Affixes may be derivational, like English -ness and pre-, or inflectional, like English plural -s and past tense -ed. They are bound morphemes by definition; prefixes and suffixes may be separable affixes...

 -je, -tje, -pje, -etje, -kje to the noun in question. Often the suffixes -ke, -eke, -ske, -ie, -kje are used in different dialects instead of the former mentioned, but those are not used in official spelling, with the exception of a word like "slapie"—a buddy who one shares sleeping quarters with.

In Dutch, in addition to noun
In linguistics, a noun is a member of a large, open lexical category whose members can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition .Lexical categories are defined in terms of how their members combine with other kinds of...

s, diminutive forms of adjectives and adverbs may also be created:
  • adjective: groen (green) → groentje (lit. "little green" meaning rookie)
  • adverbs: groen (green) → groentjes (lit. "littly green" meaning greenish), net (neat) → netjes, zacht (soft) → zachtjes

Some nouns have two different diminutives, each with a different meaning:
  • bloem (flower) → bloempje (lit. "small flower")
  • bloem (flower) → bloemetje (lit. also "small flower", but meaning bouquet
    Flower bouquet
    A flower bouquet is a collection of flowers in a creative arrangement. There are different kinds including nosegay, crescent, and cascading bouquets. Flower bouquets are often given for special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries. They are also used extensively in weddings. Traditionally...


A few words also exist solely in a diminutive form, e.g. zeepaardje ("seahorse
Seahorses compose the fish genus Hippocampus within the family Syngnathidae, in order Syngnathiformes. Syngnathidae also includes the pipefishes. "Hippocampus" comes from the Ancient Greek hippos meaning "horse" and kampos meaning “sea monster”.There are nearly 50 species of seahorse...

") and sneeuwklokje ("Snowdrop"). See e.g.

When used to refer to time, the Dutch diminutive form can indicate whether the person in question found it pleasant or not.
  • Na een uurtje gezellig gekletst te hebben met haar vriend ging het meisje naar huis.
After chatting to her boyfriend for a little hour, the girl went home.


In Afrikaans
Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa and Namibia. It is a daughter language of Dutch, originating in its 17th century dialects, collectively referred to as Cape Dutch .Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch; see , , , , , .Afrikaans was historically called Cape...

, the diminutive is formed by adding one of the suffixes
An affix is a morpheme that is attached to a word stem to form a new word. Affixes may be derivational, like English -ness and pre-, or inflectional, like English plural -s and past tense -ed. They are bound morphemes by definition; prefixes and suffixes may be separable affixes...

 -ie, -pie, -kie, -'tjie, -tjie, -jie, -etjie to the word, depending on the latter's phonology (some exceptions exist to these rules):
  • -ie for words ending in -f, -g, -k, -p or -s: neef → nefie (male cousin), lag → laggie (laugh), skaap → skapie (sheep)
  • -pie for words ending in -m: boom (tree) → boompie
  • -kie for words ending in -ing: koning (king) → koninkie
  • -′tjie for words ending in -i, -o, or -u (usually borrowed from other languages): impi → impi′tjie
  • -jie for words ending in -d or -t: hoed → hoedjie (hat)
  • -etjie for CVC words ending in -b, -l, -m, -n or -r: bal → balletjie (ball), kam → kammetjie (comb), kar → karretjie (car)
  • -tjie for most other words: soen → soentjie (kiss), koei → koeitjie (cow), appel → appeltjie (apple)

Diminutives of words that are themselves diminutives are used, for example baadjietjie (little jacket). Such constructions do not appear in Dutch.

Afrikaans has almost identical usage and grammar for diminutive words as Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

, the language Afrikaans was derived from. (detailed below) There are differences in Dutch as compared to Afrikaans. One is that suffixes end with -je (e.g. beetje, a [little] bit, mandje, basket) as compared to -ie in Afrikaans (e.g. bietjie, mandjie—same meanings respectively). This reflects the usage of -ie in the dialects of the province of Holland that most of Dutch settlers came from. An other difference is that in the Dutch language also adjectives and adverbs can be conjugated as diminutives as if they were nouns. Diminutives are widely used in both languages, but much more so in the Afrikaans language.

In some cases the diminutive in Afrikaans is the most commonly used, or even only form of the word: bietjie, mandjie, and boontjie (bean). In other cases the diminutive may be used figuratively rather than literally to imply affection, camaraderie, euphemism
A euphemism is the substitution of a mild, inoffensive, relatively uncontroversial phrase for another more frank expression that might offend or otherwise suggest something unpleasant to the audience...

, sarcasm, or disdain, depending on context.


German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 features words such as "Häuschen" for "small house", "Würstchen" for "small sausage", "ein Bisschen" for "a little bit" and "Hündchen" for "small dog". Diminutives are more frequently used than in English. Some words only exist in the diminutive form, e.g. "Kaninchen" ("rabbit" derived from the Latin diminutive cuniculus via the Old French word 'conin'). The use of diminutives is quite different between the dialects. The Alemannic dialects for example use the diminutive very often.

Diminutives are always neutral as for grammatical gender
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

, regardless of the original word. For example, the common German word for girl is das Mädchen, which is neutral because it is a diminutive of die Maid (feminine) – the maiden. While Mädchen is an everyday word, Maid is hardly used nowadays and usually is associated with medieval language (as in fables, novels, etc.).

There are two suffixes that can be systematically applied in German:
  • -chen, e.g. "Brötchen" for little bread (corresponding with English -kin as seen in "napkin", Low Saxon
    Low German
    Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

     (Low German) and Dutch -je, -tje, -ke, -ken and other forms depending on the dialect area)
  • -lein e.g. "Männlein" for little man (corresponding with English -let and -ling, Alemannic/Swabian -lé (Spaetzlé), -li (Hörnli), Bavarian and Austrian -l, and Latin
    Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...


Suffixation of the diminutive suffixes –chen and –lein to a finally stressed word stem
Word stem
In linguistics, a stem is a part of a word. The term is used with slightly different meanings.In one usage, a stem is a form to which affixes can be attached. Thus, in this usage, the English word friendships contains the stem friend, to which the derivational suffix -ship is attached to form a new...

 causes umlaut
Germanic umlaut
In linguistics, umlaut is a process whereby a vowel is pronounced more like a following vowel or semivowel. The term umlaut was originally coined and is used principally in connection with the study of the Germanic languages...

 of the stressed vowel.

In Bavarian and Austrian German
Bavarian , also Austro-Bavarian, is a major group of Upper German varieties spoken in the south east of the German language area.-History and origin:...

, the -l or -erl suffix can replace almost any usual German diminutive. For example, the standard word for 'girl' in German is Mädchen and, while Mädchen is still used frequently in Austrian German, a more colloquial "cute" usage would be Mädl or Madl. It is regular for Austrians to replace the normal Bisschen ('a little' as in "Can I have a little more?") with Bissl. This has become a very distinctive feature
Distinctive feature
In linguistics, a distinctive feature is the most basic unit of phonological structure that may be analyzed in phonological theory.Distinctive features are grouped into categories according to the natural classes of segments they describe: major class features, laryngeal features, manner features,...

 of Austrian German.

A familiar example of the -erl diminutive is Nannerl, the childhood name of Maria Anna Mozart
Maria Anna Mozart
Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia Mozart , nicknamed "Nannerl", was a musician, the older sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and daughter of Leopold and Anna Maria Mozart.-Childhood:...

, the sister of the celebrated composer. Historically, some common Austro-Bavarian surnames were also derived from (clipped) first names using the -l suffix; for example, (Jo)hann > Händl, Man(fred) > Mändl (both with epenthetic
In phonology, epenthesis is the addition of one or more sounds to a word, especially to the interior of a word. Epenthesis may be divided into two types: excrescence, for the addition of a consonant, and anaptyxis for the addition of a vowel....

 d and umlaut
Germanic umlaut
In linguistics, umlaut is a process whereby a vowel is pronounced more like a following vowel or semivowel. The term umlaut was originally coined and is used principally in connection with the study of the Germanic languages...

), (Gott)fried > Friedl, and so on.

In Swabian German
Swabian German
Swabian is one of the Alemannic dialects of High German. It is spoken in Swabia, a region which covers much of Germany's southwestern state Baden-Württemberg, including its capital Stuttgart, the rural area known as the Swabian Alb, and Bavaria...

 this is done by adding a -le suffix (the e being distinctly pronounced, but not stressed). For example, a small house would be a "Häusle" or a little girl a "Mädle". A unique feature of Swabian is that not only nouns may be suffixed with -le, which has no counterpart in other German dialects
German dialects
German dialect is dominated by the geographical spread of the High German consonant shift, and the dialect continuum that connects the German with the Dutch language.-German dialects in relation to varieties of standard German:...

, High German, or other languages: wasele (diminutive of was, what) or jetzetle (diminutive of jetzt, now) or kommele (diminutive of kommen, come). (In both Spanish and Italian, these may be formed similarly, e.g. igualito – diminutive of igual, same and pochino or pochettino - diminutive of poco, a little/a few).
Many variants of Swabian also have a plural diminutive suffix: -la. E.g.: "oi Mädle, zwoi Mädla."
High Alemannic

In High Alemannic the standard suffix -li is added to the root word. A little would be äs bitzli (literally a little bite) as to "ein bisschen" in Standard German. The diminutive form of bitzli is birebitzli.

Vowels of proper names often turn into an umlaut in Highest Alemannic, whereas in High Alemannic it remains the same.
Proper names: Christian becomes Chrigi, in Highest Alemannic: Chrigu. Sebastien becomes Sebi resp. Sebu. Sabrina becomes Sabsi resp. Säbe. Corinne becomes Cogi resp. Cogä. Barbara becomes Babsi resp. Babsä, Robert becomes Röbi resp. Röbu. Jakob becomes Köbi resp. Köbu. Gabriel becomes Gäbu in Highest Alemannic.
Low German

In East Frisian Low Saxon
East Frisian Low Saxon
East Frisian Low Saxon is a West Low German dialect spoken in the East Frisian peninsula of northwestern Lower Saxony. It is used quite frequently in everyday speech there. About half of the East Frisian population in the coastal region uses Platdüütsk. A number of individuals, despite not being...

, -je, -tje, and -pje are used as a diminutive suffix (e.g. huis becomes huisje (little house); boom becomes boompje (little tree)). Compare this with the High German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 suffix -chen (see above). Some words have a slightly different suffix, even though the diminutive always ends with -je. For example, man becomes mannetje (little man). All these suffixes East Frisian Low Saxon shares with Dutch (detailed above).

In other varieties of West Low German, spoken in the east of the Netherlands, diminutives occasionally use the umlaut
Umlaut (diacritic)
The diaeresis and the umlaut are diacritics that consist of two dots placed over a letter, most commonly a vowel. When that letter is an i or a j, the diacritic replaces the tittle: ï....

 in combination with the suffixes -gie(n):
  • man → mānnegie (EN
    English language
    English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

    : man → little man)
  • kom → kōmmegie (EN: bowl → little bowl)

In Northern Low Saxon
Northern Low Saxon
Northern Low Saxon is a West Low German dialect.As such, it covers a great part of the West Low-German-speaking areas of northern Germany, with the exception of the border regions where Eastphalian and Westphalian are spoken...

, the -je diminutive is rarely used, except maybe Gronings
Gronings, in the dialect itself called Grunnegs or Grönnegs, is a collective name for some Friso-Saxon dialects spoken in the province of Groningen and around the Groningen border in Drenthe and Friesland. Gronings and the strongly related varieties in East-Frisia have a strong Frisian influence...

, such as in Buscherumpje, a fisherman's shirt. It is usually substituted with lütte, meaning "little", as in dat lütte Huus- the small house. The same goes for the North Germanic languages
North Germanic languages
The North Germanic languages or Scandinavian languages, the languages of Scandinavians, make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages, a sub-family of the Indo-European languages, along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages...


Historically, some common Low German surnames were derived from (clipped) first names using the -ke(n) suffix; for example, Ludwig > Lüdeke, Wilhelm > Wilke(n), Wernher > Werneke, and so on. Some of these name bases are difficult to recognize in comparison to standard German; for example, Dumke, Domke < Döm 'Thomas', Klitzke < Klitz 'Clement', etc.


Yiddish language
Yiddish is a High German language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, spoken throughout the world. It developed as a fusion of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages...

 frequently uses diminutives. In Yiddish the primary diminutive is -l or -ele in singular, and -lekh or -elekh in plural, sometimes involving a vowel trade in the root. Thus Volf will become Velvl, Khaim: Khaiml, mame (mother): mamele, Khane: Khanele, Moyshe: Moyshele, kind (child): kindl or kindele, Bobe (grandmother): Bobele, teyl (deal): teylekhl (mote), regn (rain): regndl, hant (hand): hentl, fus (foot): fisl. The longer version of the suffix (-ele instead of -l) sounds generally more affectionate and usually used with proper names. Sometimes a few variations of the plural diminutive forms are possible: balebos (owner, boss): balebeslekh (newly-wed young men): balebatimlekh (petty bourgeois men).

Many other diminutives of Slavic
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

 origin are commonly used, mostly with proper names:
  • -ke: Khaim/Khaimke, Sore/Sorke, Khaye/Khayke, Avrom/Avromke, bruder/bruderke (brother). These forms are usually considered nicknames and are only used with very close friends and relatives.
  • -[e]nyu: kale/kalenyu (dear bride), harts/hartsenyu (sweetheart), zeyde/zeydenyu (dear grandpa). Often used as an affectionate quasi-vocative.
  • -tshik: Avrom/Avromtshik, yungerman/yungermantshik (young man).
  • -inke: tate/tatinke (dear daddy), baleboste/balebostinke (dear hostess).
  • -ik: Shmuel/Shmulik, Yisroel/Srolik.
  • -tse or -tshe: Sore/Sortshe, Avrom/Avromtshe, Itsik/Itshe.
  • -(e)shi: bobe/bobeshi (dear grandma), zun/zuneshi (dear son), tate/tateshi (dear daddy).
  • -lebn: tate-lebn, Malke-lebn. This particle might be considered a distinct compound word
    Compound (linguistics)
    In linguistics, a compound is a lexeme that consists of more than one stem. Compounding or composition is the word formation that creates compound lexemes...

    , and not a suffix.

These suffixes can also be combined: Khaim/Khaimkele, Avrom/Avromtshikl, Itsik/Itshenyu.

Some Yiddish proper names have common non-trivial diminutive forms, somewhat similar to English names such as Bob or Wendy: Akive/Kive, Yishaye/Shaye, Rivke/Rivele.

Yiddish also has diminutive forms of adjectives (all the following examples are given in masculine single form):
  • -lekh (-like): roytlekher (reddish), gelblekher (yellowish), zislekher (sweetish).
  • -ink (-ling): roytinker (cute red), gelinker (cute yellow), zisinker (so-sweet).
  • -tshik or -itshk: kleynitshker (teeny-tiney), altitshker (dear old).

Some Yiddish diminutives have been incorporated into modern Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

: Imma (mother) to Immaleh and Abba (father) to Abbaleh.


A common diminutive suffix in Icelandic
Icelandic language
Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

 is -lingur:

  • grís → gríslingur (English: pig → piglet)
  • bók → bæklingur (English: book → pamphlet/booklet)
  • jeppi → jepplingur (English: jeep → SUV)


A common diminutive suffix in Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

 is -is:
  • godsak → godis (candy)
  • daghem → dagis (daycare centre/kindergarten
    A kindergarten is a preschool educational institution for children. The term was created by Friedrich Fröbel for the play and activity institute that he created in 1837 in Bad Blankenburg as a social experience for children for their transition from home to school...


Note that the usage of -is is not limited to child-related or "cute" things. For instance,
  • kondom → kådis (condom
    A condom is a barrier device most commonly used during sexual intercourse to reduce the probability of pregnancy and spreading sexually transmitted diseases . It is put on a man's erect penis and physically blocks ejaculated semen from entering the body of a sexual partner...

  • permission → permis (furlough
    In the United States a furlough is a temporary unpaid leave of some employees due to special needs of a company, which may be due to economic conditions at the specific employer or in the economy as a whole...



French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 diminutives can be formed with a wide range of endings. Often, a consonant or phoneme is placed between the root word
Root (linguistics)
The root word is the primary lexical unit of a word, and of a word family , which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents....

 and the diminutive ending for phonetic purposes:
porcelet < pourceau , from lat. porcellus.

Feminine nouns or names are typically made diminutive by adding the ending -ette: fillette (little girl or little daughter [affectionate], from fille, girl or daughter); courgette (small squash or marrow, q.e., zucchini, from courge, squash); Jeannette (from Jeanne); pommettes (cheekbones), from pomme (apple); cannette (female duckling), from cane (female duck). This ending has crossed over into English as well (e.g. kitchenette). Feminine nouns may also end in -elle (mademoiselle, from madame).

Masculine names or nouns may be turned into diminutives with the ending -ot, -on, or -ou (MF -eau), but sometimes, for phonetic reasons, an additional consonant is added (e.g. -on becomes -ton, -ou becomes -nou, etc.): Jeannot (Jonny), from Jean (John); Pierrot (Petey) from Pierre (Peter); chiot (puppy), from chien (dog); fiston (sonny or sonny-boy), from fils (son); caneton (he-duckling), from canard (duck or he-duck); chaton (kitten), from chat (cat); minou (kitty, presumably from the root for miauler, to meow); Didou (Didier); Philou or Filou (Philippe).

Some masculine diminutives are formed with the masculine version of -ette: -et. For example: porcelet, piglet, from porc; oiselet, fledgling, from oiseau, bird. However, in many cases the names for baby animals are not diminutives—that is, unlike chaton/chat or chiot/chien, they are not derived
In linguistics and etymology, suppletion is traditionally understood as the use of one word as the inflected form of another word when the two words are not cognate. For those learning a language, suppletive forms will be seen as "irregular" or even "highly irregular". The term "suppletion" implies...

 from the word for the adult animal: poulain, foal (an adult horse is a cheval); agneau, lamb (an adult is either a brebis, female sheep, or a bélier, male sheep). French is not unique in this, but it is indicated here to clarify that not all names of animals can be turned into diminutives by the addition of diminutive endings.

In Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

, -et/-ette, -in/-ine, -el/-elle were often used, as Adeline for Adele, Maillet for Maill, and so on. As well, the ending -on was used for both genders, as Alison and Guion from Alice and Guy respectively. The Germanic side of Vulgar Latin
Vulgar Latin
Vulgar Latin is any of the nonstandard forms of Latin from which the Romance languages developed. Because of its nonstandard nature, it had no official orthography. All written works used Classical Latin, with very few exceptions...

 bore proper diminutives -oc and -uc which went into words such as L pocca and pucca, to become F poche (pouch); -oche is in regular use to shorten words: cinéma → cinoche.


In Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

, the diminutive is expressed by several derivational suffix
In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs...

es, applied to nouns or adjectives to create new nouns or adjectives with variable meanings. The new word is then pluralized as a word in its own right. Such derived words often have no equivalent in other languages.
  • -ello, -ella: finestra → finestrella (window → little window), misero → miserello (miserable);
  • -etto, -etta, the most used one along with -ino: casa → casetta (house → little house), povero → poveretto (poor), cane → cagnetto (dog);
  • -icchio, -icchia, mainly of regional use, often pejorative: sole → solicchio (sun → weak sun);
  • -ino, -ina, the most used one along with -etto: paese → paesino (village → little village); also in baby talk and after other suffixes: bello → bellino (pretty), giovane → giovanotto → giovanottino (but there are no limits to suffixation, which could continue);
  • -otto, -otta, often attenuating: aquila → aquilotto (eagle → baby eagle), stupido → stupidotto (stupid → rather stupid);
  • -uccio, -uccia, hypocoristic
    A hypocorism is a shorter form of a word or given name, for example, when used in more intimate situations as a nickname or term of endearment.- Derivation :Hypocorisms are often generated as:...

     or pejorative (also in southern forms -uzzo, -uzza).

Such suffixes are of Latin origin, except -etto and -otto, which are of unclear origin.

Moreover, there are some additional hypocoristic suffixes which are used to create new adjectives from other adjectives (or, sometimes, from nouns): -iccio, -igno, -ognolo, -occio (of Latin origin, except the last one, whose origin is unclear).
Italian loanwords

Examples which have made it into English are mostly culinary, like linguine
Linguine is a form of pasta — flat like fettuccine and trenette. It is wider than spaghetti, about 1/4 to 3/8 inch, but not as wide as fettuccine. The name linguine means "little tongues" in Italian, where it is a plural of the feminine linguina. Linguine are also called trenette or bavette...

 (named for its resemblance to little tongue
The tongue is a muscular hydrostat on the floors of the mouths of most vertebrates which manipulates food for mastication. It is the primary organ of taste , as much of the upper surface of the tongue is covered in papillae and taste buds. It is sensitive and kept moist by saliva, and is richly...

s ("lingue", in Italian)), and bruschetta
Bruschetta is an antipasto from Italy whose origin dates to at least the 15th century. It consists of roasted bread rubbed with garlic and topped with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper...

. The diminution is often figurative: an operetta
Operetta is a genre of light opera, light in terms both of music and subject matter. It is also closely related, in English-language works, to forms of musical theatre.-Origins:...

 is similar to an opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

, but dealing with less serious topics. "Signorina" means "Miss
Miss is an English language honorific traditionally used only for an unmarried woman . Originating in the 17th century, it is a contraction of mistress, which was used for all women. A period is not used to signify the contraction...

"; with "signorino" (man
The term man is used for an adult human male . However, man is sometimes used to refer to humanity as a whole...

) they have the same meanings as señorita and señorito in Spanish.

The English demonstrative affixes would be ablauts of -one: -on, -un, -en (big-un, littlun, littl'un, little-un); but this is colloquial and seldom.


In the Latin language
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 the diminutive is formed also by suffixes of each gender affixed to the word stem
Word stem
In linguistics, a stem is a part of a word. The term is used with slightly different meanings.In one usage, a stem is a form to which affixes can be attached. Thus, in this usage, the English word friendships contains the stem friend, to which the derivational suffix -ship is attached to form a new...

. Each variant ending matches with a blend of the variant secondary demonstrative pronouns: In Old Latin
Old Latin
Old Latin refers to the Latin language in the period before the age of Classical Latin; that is, all Latin before 75 BC...

, ollus, olla, ollum; later ille, illa, illud (illum-da to set off ileum).
  • -ulus, -ula, -ulum, e.g. globulus (globule) from globus (globe
    A globe is a three-dimensional scale model of Earth or other spheroid celestial body such as a planet, star, or moon...

  • -culus, -cula, -culum, e.g. homunculus
    Homunculus is a term used, generally, in various fields of study to refer to any representation of a human being. Historically, it referred specifically to the concept of a miniature though fully formed human body, for example, in the studies of alchemy and preformationism...

     (so-small man) from homo (man)
  • -olus, -ola, -olum, e.g. malleolus (small hammer) from malleus (hammer)
  • -ellus, -ella, -ellum, e.g. libellus (little book) smaller than librulus (small book) from liber (book)

Similarly, the diminutive of gladius
Gladius was the Latin word for sword, and is used to represent the primary sword of Ancient Roman soldiers. Early ancient Roman swords were similar to those used by the Greeks. From the 3rd century BC, the Romans adopted swords similar to those used by the Celtiberians and others during the early...

A sword is a bladed weapon used primarily for cutting or thrusting. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographical region under consideration...

) is gladiolus
Gladiolus is a genus of perennial bulbous flowering plants in the iris family...

, a plant
Plants are living organisms belonging to the kingdom Plantae. Precise definitions of the kingdom vary, but as the term is used here, plants include familiar organisms such as trees, flowers, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. The group is also called green plants or...

 whose leaves
-History:Vocalist Arnar Gudjonsson was formerly the guitarist with Mower, and he was joined by Hallur Hallsson , Arnar Ólafsson , Bjarni Grímsson , and Andri Ásgrímsson . Late in 2001 they played with Emiliana Torrini and drew early praise from the New York Times...

 look like small swords.

Adjectives as well as nouns can be diminished, including paululus (very small) from paulus (small).

The diminutive ending for verbs is -ill-, placed after the stem and before the endings. The diminutive verb changes to the first conjugation, no matter what the original conjugation. Conscribere "write onto" is third-conjugation, but the diminutive conscribillare "scribble over" is first-conjugation.

The Anglicisation of Latin diminutives is relatively common, especially in medical terminology
Medical terminology
Medical terminology is a vocabulary for accurately describing the human body and associated components, conditions, processes and process in a science-based manner. Some examples are: R.I.C.E., trapezius, and latissimus dorsi. It is to be used in the medical and nursing fields...

. In nouns, the most common conversion is removal of the -us, -a, -um endings and trading them for a mum e. Hence some examples are vacuole from vacuolum, particle from particula, and globule from globulus.


In Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

, diminutives can be formed with a wide range of endings but the most common diminutives are formed with the suffixes -(z)inho, -(z)inha, replacing the masculine and feminine endings -o and -a, respectively. The variants -(z)ito and -(z)ita, direct analogues of Spanish -(c)ito and -(c)ita, are also common in some regions. The forms with a z are normally added to words that end in stressed vowels, such as café → cafezinho. Some nouns have slightly irregular diminutives.

Noun diminutives are widely used in the vernacular. Occasionally, this process is extended to pronoun
In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun is a pro-form that substitutes for a noun , such as, in English, the words it and he...

s (pouco, a little → pouquinho or poucochinho, a very small amount), adjective
In grammar, an adjective is a 'describing' word; the main syntactic role of which is to qualify a noun or noun phrase, giving more information about the object signified....

s (e.g. bobo → bobinho, meaning respectively "silly" and "a bit silly"; só → sozinho, both meaning "alone" or "all alone"), adverb
An adverb is a part of speech that modifies verbs or any part of speech other than a noun . Adverbs can modify verbs, adjectives , clauses, sentences, and other adverbs....

s (depressinha, "quickly") and even verb
A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word that in syntax conveys an action , or a state of being . In the usual description of English, the basic form, with or without the particle to, is the infinitive...

s (correndo → correndinho, both of which mean "running", but the latter with an endearing connotation).


Romanian language
Romanian Romanian Romanian (or Daco-Romanian; obsolete spellings Rumanian, Roumanian; self-designation: română, limba română ("the Romanian language") or românește (lit. "in Romanian") is a Romance language spoken by around 24 to 28 million people, primarily in Romania and Moldova...

 uses suffixes to create diminutives, most of these suffixes being of Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 or Slavic
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

Not only names, but adjectives, adverbs and pronouns can have diminutives as well, as in Portuguese, Polish and Russian.

Feminine suffixes
  • -ea (ramură / rămurea = tree branch)
  • -ică (bucată / bucăţică = piece)
  • -ioară (inimă / inimioară = heart)
  • -işoară (ţară / ţărişoară = country)
  • -iţă (fată / fetiţă = girl)
  • -uşcă (raţă / răţuşcă = duck)
  • -uţă (bunică / bunicuţă = grandmother)

Masculine suffixes
  • -aş (iepure / iepuraş = rabbit)
  • -el (băiat / băieţel = boy)
  • -ic (tată / tătic = father)
  • -ior (dulap / dulăpior = locker)
  • -işor (pui / puişor = chicken)
  • -uleţ (urs / ursuleţ = bear)
  • -uş (căţel / căţeluş = dog)
  • -uţ (pat / pătuţ = bed)

frumos > frumușel (beautiful ; pretty)

repede > repejor (fast ; quite fast)

dumneata (you, polite form) > mata > mătăluță
(used to address children respectfully in a non-familial context)

nimic ( nothing)> nimicuța

nițel (a little something)


Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 is a language rich in diminutives, and uses suffixes to create them:
  • -ito/-ita, words ending in -o or -a (rata, "rat" → ratita. Ojo, "eye" → ojito. Cebolla, "onion" → cebollita),
  • -cito/-cita, words ending in -e or consonant (león, "lion" → leoncito. Café, "coffee" → cafecito),
  • -illo/-illa (flota; "fleet" → flotilla. Guerra, "war" → guerrilla. Cámara, "chamber" → camarilla),
  • -ico/-ica, words ending in -to and -tro (plato, "plate" → platico),
  • -ín/-ina (pequeño/a, "little" → pequeñín(a). Muchacho/a, "boy" → muchachín(a))
  • -ete/-eta (Pandero, "tambourine" → pandereta).

Other less common suffixes are
  • -uelo/-uela (pollo, "chicken" → polluelo),
  • -zuelo/-zuela [pejorative] (ladrón, "thief" → landronzuelo),
  • -uco/-uca (nene, "children" → nenuco),
  • -ucho/-ucha [pejorative] (médico, "doctor" → medicucho),
  • -ijo/-ija (lagarto, "lizard" → lagartija),
  • -izno/-izna (lluvia, "rain" → llovizna),
  • -ajo/-aja (miga, "crumb" → migaja),
  • -ino/-ina (niebla, "fog" → neblina).

Some speakers use a suffix in a word twice, which gives a more affectionate sense to the word.
  • chico, "boy" → chiquito → chiquitito/a, chiquitico/a, chiquitín(a).
  • pie, "foot" → piecito → piececito, piececillo.

Sometimes alternating different suffixes can change the meaning.
  • (La) mano, "hand" → manita (or manito), "little hand", or manilla or manecilla, "hand (clock)".


Lithuanian language
Lithuanian is the official state language of Lithuania and is recognized as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.96 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 170,000 abroad. Lithuanian is a Baltic language, closely related to Latvian, although they...

 is known for its array of diminutive forms. Diminutives are generally constructed with suffixes applied to the noun stem. By far, the most common are those with -elis/-elė or -ėlis/-ėlė. Others include: -ukis/-ukė, -ulis/-ulė, -užis/-užė, -utis/-utė, -ytis/-ytė, etc. Suffixes may also be compounded, e.g.: -užis + -ėlis → -užėlis. In addition to denoting small size and/or endearment, they may also function as amplificatives (augmentatives), pejoratives (deterioratives), and to give special meanings, depending on context. Lithuanian diminutives are especially prevalent in poetic language, such as folk songs
Folk music
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

. Examples:
  • ąžuolas (oak) → ąžuolėlis, ąžuoliukas
  • brolis (brother) → brolelis, broliukas, brolytis, brolužis, brolužėlis, brolutytis, broliukėlis, etc.
  • klevas (maple) → klevelis, klevukas, klevutis
  • pakalnė (slope) → pakalnutė (Lily-of-the-valley, Convallaria
    Convallaria majalis , commonly known as the lily-of-the-valley, is a poisonous woodland flowering plant native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere in Asia and Europe....

  • saulė (sun) → saulelė, saulytė, saulutė, saulužė, saulužėlė, etc.
  • svogūnas (onion) → svogūnėlis (bulb)
  • vadovas (leader) → vadovėlis (textbook, manual)


In Latvian
Latvian language
Latvian is the official state language of Latvia. It is also sometimes referred to as Lettish. There are about 1.4 million native Latvian speakers in Latvia and about 150,000 abroad. The Latvian language has a relatively large number of non-native speakers, atypical for a small language...

 diminutives are widely used and are generally constructed with suffixes applied to the noun stem. The most common are those with -iņš/-iņa or -ītis/-īte. Others include: -ēns, -elis/-ele.

  • laiva → laiviņa (boat)
  • brālis → brālītis (brother)
  • cālis → cālēns (chicken)


Serbo-Croatian or Serbo-Croat, less commonly Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian , is a South Slavic language with multiple standards and the primary language of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro...

 uses suffixes -ić, -čić for diminutives of masculine nouns, -ica for feminine nouns and names, and -ce, -ašce for neuter nouns.

  • žaba (frog) → žabica
  • lopta (ball) → loptica
  • patka (duck) → patkica

  • konj (horse) → konjić
  • sin (son) → sinčić
  • nos (nose) → nosić

  • pero (feather) → perce
  • sunce (sun) → sunašce
  • jezero (lake) → jezerce


Bulgarian language
Bulgarian is an Indo-European language, a member of the Slavic linguistic group.Bulgarian, along with the closely related Macedonian language, demonstrates several linguistic characteristics that set it apart from all other Slavic languages such as the elimination of case declension, the...

 has an extended diminutive system.

Masculine nouns have a double diminutive form. The first suffix that can be added is -че, (-che). At this points the noun has become neuter, because of the -e ending. The -нце, (-ntse) suffix can further extend the diminutive (It is still neuter, again due to the -e ending). A few examples:
  • kufar (suitcase) → kufarche → kufarchentse
  • nozh (knife) → nozhche → nozhchentse
  • stol (chair) → stolche → stolchentse

Feminine nouns can have up to three different, independent forms (though some of them are used only in colloquial speech
A colloquialism is a word or phrase that is common in everyday, unconstrained conversation rather than in formal speech, academic writing, or paralinguistics. Dictionaries often display colloquial words and phrases with the abbreviation colloq. as an identifier...

  • zhena (woman) → zhenica → zhenichka
  • riba (fish) → ribka → ribchitsa
  • saksiya (flowerpot) → saksiyka → saksiychitsa
  • glava (head) → glаvitsa → glavichka

Note, that the suffixes can be any of -ка (-ka), -чка (-chka), and -ца (-tsa).

Neuter nouns usually have one diminutive variant, formed by adding variations of -це (-tse):
  • dete (child) → detentse
  • zhito (wheat grain) → zhittse
  • sluntse (sun) → slunchitse

Adjectives have forms for each grammatical gender and these forms have their corresponding diminutive variant. The used suffixes are -ък (-uk) for masculine, -ка (-ka) for feminine and -ко (-ko) for neuter:
  • maluk (small) → munichuk, malka → munichka, malko → munichko
  • golyam (big) → golemichuk, golyamа → golemichka, golyamo → golemichko


In Czech
Czech language
Czech is a West Slavic language with about 12 million native speakers; it is the majority language in the Czech Republic and spoken by Czechs worldwide. The language was known as Bohemian in English until the late 19th century...

 diminutives are formed by suffixes, as in other Slavic languages
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

. Common endings include -ka, -ko, -ek, -ík, -inka, -enka, -ečka, -ička, -ul-, -unka, -íček, -ínek etc. The choice of suffix may depend on the noun's gender as well as the degree of smallness/affection that the speaker wishes to convey.

Czech diminutives can express smallness, affection, and familiarity. Hence, "Petřík" may well mean "our", "cute", "little" or "beloved" Peter. Some suffixes generally express stronger familiarity (or greater smallness) than others. The most common examples are the pairs -ek and -eček ("domek" – small house, "domeček" – very small house), and -ík and -íček ("Petřík" – small or beloved Peter, "Petříček" – very small or cute Peter), -ko and -ečko ("pírko" – small feather, "pírečko" – very small feather), and -ka and -ička/-ečka ("tlapka" – small paw, "tlapička" – very small paw; "peřinka" – small duvet, "peřinečka" – very small duvet). However, some words already have the same ending as if they were diminutives, but they aren't. In such cases, only one diminutive form is possible, e.g. "kočka" (notice the -ka ending) means "cat" (of normal size), "kočička" means "small cat".

Every noun has a grammatically-correct diminutive form, regardless of the sense it makes. This is sometimes used for comic effect, for example diminuting the word "obr" (giant) to "obřík" (little giant). Speakers also tend to use longer endings, which are not grammatically correct, to express even stronger form of familiarity or cuteness, for example "miminečíčko" (very small and cute baby), instead of correct "miminko" and "miminečko". Such expressions are generally understood, but are used almost exclusively in emotive situations in spoken language and are only rarely written.

Some examples. Note the various stem mutations due to palatalisation, vowel shortening or vowel lengthening:

/-ka/ (mainly feminine noun forms)
  • táta (dad) → taťka (daddy), Anna → Anka, hora (mountain) → hůrka (a very small mountain or big hill), noha (leg, foot) → nožka (a little leg, such as on a small animal)

/-ko/ (neuter noun forms)
  • rádio → rádijko, víno (wine) → vínko, triko (T-shirt) → tričko, pero (feather) → pírko, oko (eye) → očko

/-ek/ (masculine noun forms)
  • dům (house) → domek, stůl (table) → stolek, schod (stair/step) → schůdek, prostor (space) → prostůrek, strom (tree) → stromek

  • Tom (Tom) → Tomík (little/cute/beloved Tom = Tommy), pokoj (room) → pokojík, kůl (stake/pole) → kolík, rum (rum) → rumík, koš (basket) → košík


In Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

 diminutives can be formed of nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and some other parts of speech. They literally signify physical smallness or lack of maturity, but usually convey attitude, in most cases affection. In some contexts, they may be condescending or ironic. Diminutives can cover a significant fraction of child's speech during the time of language acquisition
Language acquisition
Language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive, produce and use words to understand and communicate. This capacity involves the picking up of diverse capacities including syntax, phonetics, and an extensive vocabulary. This language might be vocal as with...


For adjectives and adverbs, diminutives in Polish are grammatically separate from comparative
In grammar, the comparative is the form of an adjective or adverb which denotes the degree or grade by which a person, thing, or other entity has a property or quality greater or less in extent than that of another, and is used in this context with a subordinating conjunction, such as than,...


There are multiple affixes used to create the diminutive. Some of them are -ka, -czka, -śka, -szka, -cia, -sia, -unia, -enka, -lka for feminine nouns and -ek, -yk, -ciek, -czek, -czyk, -szek, -uń, -uś, -eńki, -lki for masculine words, and -czko, -ko for neuter nouns, among others.

The diminutive suffixes may be stacked to create forms going even further, for example, malusieńki is considered even smaller than malusi or maleńki. Similarly, koteczek (little kitty) is derived from kotek (kitty), which is itself derived from kot (cat). Note that in this case, the suffix -ek is used twice, but changes to ecz once due to palatalization
In linguistics, palatalization , also palatization, may refer to two different processes by which a sound, usually a consonant, comes to be produced with the tongue in a position in the mouth near the palate....


There are also diminutives that lexicalized, e.g., stołek (chair), which is grammatically a diminutive of stół (table).

In many cases, the possibilities for creation of diminutives are seemingly endless and leave place to create many neologisms. Some examples of common diminutives:

  • żaba (frog) → żabka, żabcia, żabusia, żabeńka, żabuleńka, żabeczka, żabunia
  • córka (daughter) → córeczka, córunia, córcia (Originally córka was created as diminutive from córa which nowadays isn't in common use.)
  • kaczka (duck) → kaczuszka, kaczusia, kaczunia
  • Katarzyna (Katherine) → Kasia, Kaśka, Kasieńka, Kasiunia, Kasiulka, Kasiuleczka, Kasiuneczka
  • Anna (Anna) → Ania, Anka, Ańcia, Anusia, Anuśka, Aneczka, Anulka, Anuleczka
  • Małgorzata (Margaret) → Małgorzatka, Małgosia, Małgośka, Gosia, Gosieńka, Gosiunia, Gosiula

  • chłopak (boy) → chłopczyk, chłopaczek, chłopiec (Originally chłopak was created as diminutive from Old Polish chłop which nowadays means "peasant".)
  • kot (cat) → kotek, koteczek, kociątko, kociak, kociaczek, kotuś, kotunio
  • Grzegorz (Gregory) → Grześ, Grzesiek, Grzesio, Grzesiu
  • Michał (Michael) → Michałek, Michaś, Misiek, Michasiek, Michaszek, Misiu
  • Piotr (Peter) → Piotrek, Piotruś, Piotrusiek,
  • Tomasz (Thomas) → Tomek, Tomuś, Tomcio, Tomeczek, Tomaszek
  • ptak (bird) → ptaszek, ptaszeczek, ptaś, ptasiątko

  • pióro (feather) → piórko, pióreczko
  • serce (heart) → serduszko, serdeńko
  • mleko (milk) → mleczko
  • światło (light) → światełko
  • słońce (sun) → słoneczko, słonko

  • kwiaty (flowers) → kwiatki, kwiatuszki, kwiateczki

  • mały (small) (masculine) → maleńki, malusi, malutki, maluśki, malusieńki
  • mała (small) (feminine) → maleńka, malusia, malutka, maluśka, malusieńka
  • zielony (green) (masculine) → zieloniutki
  • zielonkawy (greenish) (masculine) → zieloniutkawy
  • miękkie (soft) (neuter) → mięciutkie

  • prędko (fast) → prędziutko, prędziuteńko, prędziuśko, prędziusieńko
  • prędzej (faster) → prędziusiej
  • fajnie → fajniusio
  • super → supcio

  • płakać (to weep) → płakuniać, płakuńciać, płakusiać


Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 has a wide variety of diminutive forms for names, to the point that for non-Russian speakers it can be difficult to connect a nickname to the original. Diminutive forms for nouns are usually distinguished with -ик, -ок, -ёк (-ik, -ok, -iok, masculine gender), -чк-, -шк-, -oньк- or -еньк- (-chk-, -shk-, -on'k-, -en'k-) infixes and suffixes. For example, вода (voda, water) becomes водичка (vodichka, affectionate name of water), кот (kot, male cat) becomes котик (kotik, affectionate name), кошка (koshka, female cat) becomes кошечка (koshechka, affectionate name), солнце (solntse, sun) becomes солнышко (solnyshko). Often there are many diminutive forms for one word: мама (mama, mom) becomes мамочка (mamochka, affectionate sense), мамуля (mamulia, affectionate and playful sense), маменька (mamen'ka, affectionate and old-fashioned), маманя (mamania, affectionate but disdainful), - all of them have different hues of meaning, which are hard to understand for a foreigner, but are very perceptible for a native speaker. Sometimes you can combine several diminutive suffixes to make several degrees of diminution: пирог (pirog, a pie) becomes пирожок (pirozhok, a small pie, or an affectionate name) which then may become пирожочек (pirozhochek, a very small pie, or an affectionate name). The same with сыр (syr, cheese), сырок (syrok, an affectionate name or a name of a small packed piece of cheese, see the third paragraph), сырочек (syrochek, an affectionate name). In both cases the first suffix -ок changes к to ч, when the suffix -ек is added.

Often formative infixes and suffixes look like diminutive ones. The well known word водка (vodka) has the suffix -ka, which is not a diminutive, but formative, the word has completely different meaning (not water, but a drink) and has its own diminutive suffix -ochka: водочка (vodochka) is an affectionate name of vodka (compare voda - vodichka). There are may examples of this kind: сота (sota, a honeycomb) and сотка (sotka, one hundred sqr. meter), труба (truba, a tube) and трубка (trubka, a special kind of a tube: telephone receiver, TV tube, tobacco pipe - in all these cases there is no diminutive sense). However, трубка also means a small tube (depending on context). But most of the time you can tell diminutive particle from formative by simply omitting the suffix. If the meaning of a word remains, the suffix is diminutive. For example: кучка (kuchka, a small pile) -> куча (kucha, a pile) - the general meaning remains, it is a diminutive form, but тачка (tachka, wheelbarrow) -> тача (tacha, no such word) - the general meaning changes, it is not a diminutive form, потолок (potolok, ceiling) -> потол (potol, no such word) - the same with masculine gender.

There is one more peculiarity. For example, the word конь (kon', a male horse) has a diminutive form конёк (koniok). But конёк (koniok) also means a skate (ice-skating, no diminutive sense in this case), and has another diminutive form конёчек (koniochek, a small skate). The word конёк also means a gable with no diminutive sense.

Adjectives and adverbs can also have diminutive forms with infix -еньк- (-en'k-): синий (siniy, blue) becomes синенький (sinen'kiy), быстро (bystro, quickly) becomes быстренько (bystren'ko). In case of adjectives the use of diminutive form is aimed to intensify the effect of diminutive form of a noun. Diminutive forms of adverbs are used to express either benevolence in the speech or on the contrary to express superciliousness, depending on the inflection of a whole phrase.

Some diminutives of proper names, among many others:

  • Anastasia → Nastia (as in Nastia Liukin
    Nastia Liukin
    Anastasia Valeryevna "Nastia" Liukin is a Russian-American artistic gymnast. She was the 2008 Olympic individual all-around Champion, the 2005 and 2007 World Champion on the balance beam, and the 2005 World Champion on the uneven bars...

    ), Nasten'ka
  • Anna → Anya, An'ka, Anka, Anechka, Annushka, Aniuta
  • Irina → Ira, Irka, Irochka
  • Natalya → Natasha, Natashka, Natashen'ka
  • Tatyana → Tania, Tan'ka, Tanechka, Taniusha
  • Yelizaveta → Liza, Lizochka, Lizka, Lizon'ka
  • Yekaterina → Katia, Katiusha, Katen'ka, Kat'ka, Katechka
  • Yevgeniya → Zhenia, Zhen'ka, Zhenechka

  • Aleksander → Sasha
    Sasha (name)
    Sasha is a female and male given name. It originated in countries of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe as a diminutive of Alexander and Alexandra. It is also found as a surname, although this is very rare...

    , Sashka, Sashen'ka, Sashechka
  • Aleksey → Aliosha (as in Alyosha Popovich
    Alyosha Popovich
    Alyosha Popovich , alongside Dobrynya Nikitich and Ilya Muromets, is a bogatyr . He is the youngest of the 3 main bogatyrs of Kiev Rus.The three of them are represented together at Vasnetsov's famous painting Bogatyrs....

    ), Alioshka, Alioshen'ka, Lyosha, Lyoshka, Lyoshen'ka
  • Andrei → Andriusha, Andriushka, Andriushechka
  • Dmitriy → Dima, Mitia, Dimka, Dimushka, Dimochka, Miten'ka
  • Ivan → Vanya, Van'ka, Vanechka, Vaniusha, Vaniushka, Ivanushka
  • Mikhail → Misha, Mishka, Mishen'ka, Mishechka
  • Pyotr → Petia, Pet'ka, Peten'ka, Petiunia
  • Sergey → Seriozha, Seriozhka, Seriozhen'ka
  • Vladimir → Volodya, Voloden'ka, Vova, Vovka, Vovochka


In the Irish language
Irish language
Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

 diminutives are formed by adding -ín, and sometimes, -án.

Rós (Rose) > Róisín (Rosalie, Rosaleen)

Seán > Seáinín (Johnny)

Séamas > Séamaisín, Jimín

Pádraig > Páidín (Paddy)

bóthar (road) > bóithrín (country lane)

cailleach (old woman, hag, witch) > cailín (girl) [origin of the name Colleen] < Old Irish 'caille' < Latin 'pallium' = 'cloak'

fear (man) > firín, also feairín, (little man)

teach, also tigh, (house) > tigín, also teaichín

cloch (stone) > cloichín (pebble)

sráid (street) > sráidín (lane, alleyway)

séipéal (chapel) > séipéilín (small chapel)

This suffix is also used to create the female equivalent of some male names:

Pádraig > Pádraigín (Patricia)

Gearóid (Gerald/Gerard) > Gearóidín (Geraldine)

Pól (Paul) > Póilín (Paula)

-án as a diminutive suffix is much less frequent nowadays (though it was used extensively as such in Old Irish):

leabhar (book) > leabhrán (booklet, manual, handbook)

cnoc (hill) > cnócán (hillock)

Scottish Gaelic

Scottish Gaelic has two inherited diminutive suffixes of which only one (-(e)ag) is considered productive.
  • -(e)ag, feminine: Mòr ("Sarah") → Mòrag, Loch Nis
    Loch Ness
    Loch Ness is a large, deep, freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands extending for approximately southwest of Inverness. Its surface is above sea level. Loch Ness is best known for the alleged sightings of the cryptozoological Loch Ness Monster, also known affectionately as "Nessie"...

     (Loch Ness) → Niseag ("Nessie
    Loch Ness Monster
    The Loch Ness Monster is a cryptid that is reputed to inhabit Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. It is similar to other supposed lake monsters in Scotland and elsewhere, though its description varies from one account to the next....

  • -(e)an, masculine: loch
    Loch is the Irish and Scottish Gaelic word for a lake or a sea inlet. It has been anglicised as lough, although this is pronounced the same way as loch. Some lochs could also be called a firth, fjord, estuary, strait or bay...

     → lochan, bodach
    A bodach , as borrowed into English, is a mythical spirit or creature, rather like the bogeyman. In Modern Scottish Gaelic the word simply means "old man", colloquially often used affectionately...

     (old man) → bodachan (mannikin)

Ancient Greek

Several diminutive derivational suffixes existed in Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

. The most common ones were .
original noun | diminutive
Papyrus is a thick paper-like material produced from the pith of the papyrus plant, Cyperus papyrus, a wetland sedge that was once abundant in the Nile Delta of Egypt....

"paper", "book"
"person" ἀνθρωπίσκος
"sword" ξιφίδιον
"child" παιδάριον
"little child"

Modern Greek

Diminutives are very common in Modern Greek. Literally every noun has its own diminutive. They express either small size or affection: size -aki (σπίτι/spiti "house", σπιτάκι/spitaci "little house"; λάθος/lathos "mistake", λαθάκι/lathaci "negligible mistake") or affection -ula (μάνα/mana "mother", μανούλα/manula "mommy"). The most common suffixes are -άκης/-acis and -ούλης/-ulis for the male gender, -ίτσα/-itsa and -ούλα/-ula for the female gender, and -άκι/-aci for the neutral gender. Several of them are common as suffixes of surname
A surname is a name added to a given name and is part of a personal name. In many cases, a surname is a family name. Many dictionaries define "surname" as a synonym of "family name"...

s, originally meaning the offspring of a certain person, e.g. Παπάς/Papas "priest" with Παπαδάκης/Papadacis as the surname.


In Haryanvi, proper nouns are made diminutive with 'u' (unisex), 'da' (masculine), 'do' (masculine) and 'di' (feminine). This is of course most often applied to children's names, though lifelong nicknames can result:
  • Bharat → Bhartu → demonstrates the use of 'u' for a male
  • Vaishali → Vishu → demonstrates the use of 'u' for a female
  • Amit → Amitada → demonstrates the use of 'da' for a male
  • Vishal → Vishaldo → demonstrates the use of 'da' for a male
  • Sunita → Sunitadi → demonstrates the use of 'u' for a male


In Hindi
Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

, proper nouns are made diminutive with -u. This is of course most often applied to children's names, though lifelong nicknames can result:
  • Rajiv → Raju
  • Anita → Neetu
  • Anjali
    -People:*Anjali , Tamil actress*Anjali Bhagwat, Rifle shooter from India*Anjali Devi , Telugu/Tamil film actress*Anjali Jay, English actress*Anjali Mendes , Indian fashion model*Anjali Menon, Malayalam film director...

     → Anju


In Magahi, proper nouns are made diminutive with -a or -wa. This is of course most often applied to children's names, though lifelong nicknames can result:
  • Raushan → Raushna
  • Vikash → Vikashwa
  • Anjali
    -People:*Anjali , Tamil actress*Anjali Bhagwat, Rifle shooter from India*Anjali Devi , Telugu/Tamil film actress*Anjali Jay, English actress*Anjali Mendes , Indian fashion model*Anjali Menon, Malayalam film director...

     → Anjalia


In Marathi
Marathi language
Marathi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people of western and central India. It is the official language of the state of Maharashtra. There are over 68 million fluent speakers worldwide. Marathi has the fourth largest number of native speakers in India and is the fifteenth most...

, masculine proper nouns are made diminutive with -ya or -u, while feminine proper nouns use -u and sometimes -ee. This is of course most often applied to children's names, though lifelong nicknames can result.

Masculine :
  • Abhijit (अभिजित) → Abhya (अभ्या)
  • Rajendra (राजेंद्र) → Rajya (राज्या), Raju (राजू)

Feminine :
  • Ashwini (अश्विनी) → Ashu (अशू)
  • Namrata (नम्रता) → Namee (नमी), Namu (नमू)


In Sinhala, proper nouns are made diminutive with -a after usually doubling the last pure consonant, or adding -ya.
  • Rajitha → Rajja
  • Romesh → Romma
  • Sashika → Sashsha
  • Ramith → Ramiya


The most frequently used Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 diminutives are -cheh (چه-) and -ak (ک-).
  • Bâgh باغ (garden), bâghcheh باغچه (small garden)
  • Mard مرد (man), mardak مردک (this fellow)

Other less used ones are -izeh and -zheh.
  • Rang رنگ (colour), rangizeh رنگیزه (pigment
    A pigment is a material that changes the color of reflected or transmitted light as the result of wavelength-selective absorption. This physical process differs from fluorescence, phosphorescence, and other forms of luminescence, in which a material emits light.Many materials selectively absorb...

  • Nây نای (pipe), nâyzheh نایژه (small pipe, bronchus
    A bronchus is a passage of airway in the respiratory tract that conducts air into the lungs. The bronchus branches into smaller tubes, which in turn become bronchioles....



Armenian diminutive suffixes are -ik, -ak and -uk.


  • Ramanathan, Ramalingam, Ramasamy: Ramu
  • Adhiseshan: Seshu
  • Somanathan, Somaskanthan: Somu
  • Balakrishnan: Bala, Balki
  • SuryaNarayanan: Surya
  • Sivalingam: Siva
  • Nanthakumar, Nandikesan: Nandhu
  • Padmini: Padi
  • Alamelu: Alamu


In Modern Standard Arabic the usual diminutive pattern is Fu`ayL (CuCayC), with or without the feminine -ah added:
  • kūt كوت"fort" → kuwayt
    The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

     كويت "little fort"
  • hirra هِرّة "cat" → hurayrah هُرَيرة "kitten"

In certain varieties of Arabic
Varieties of Arabic
The Arabic language is a Semitic language characterized by a wide number of linguistic varieties within its five regional forms. The largest divisions occur between the spoken languages of different regions. The Arabic of North Africa, for example, is often incomprehensible to an Arabic speaker...

, reduplication
Reduplication in linguistics is a morphological process in which the root or stem of a word is repeated exactly or with a slight change....

 of the last syllable is also used (similarly to Hebrew), as in:
  • Batta بطة "duck" → Batbota بطبوطة "small-duck"


Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew , also known as Israeli Hebrew or Modern Israeli Hebrew, is the language spoken in Israel and in some Jewish communities worldwide, from the early 20th century to the present....

 employs a reduplication pattern of its last syllable to mark diminutive forms.
  • kélev כלב (dog) : klavláv כלבלב (doggie)
  • khatúl חתול (cat) : khataltúl חתלתול (kitty)
  • batsál בצל (onion) : b'tsaltsál בצלצל (shallot
    The shallot is the botanical variety of Allium cepa to which the multiplier onion also belongs. It was formerly classified as the species A. ascalonicum, a name now considered a synonym of the correct name...

  • adóm אדום (red) : adamdám אדמדם (reddish)
  • dag דג (fish) : dagíg דגיג (small fish)
  • sak שק (sack) : sakík שקיק (sachet
    Sachet (scented bag)
    A sachet is a small cloth scented bag filled with herbs, potpourri, or aromatic ingredients.It is also defined as a small soft bag containing perfumed or sweet-smelling items also referred to as an ascent bag, scent bag, sweet bag, sachet bag, sachet de senteurs, spiced sachet, potpourri sachet,...

    ; e.g. 'sakík te', a tea bag
    Tea bag
    A tea bag is a small, porous sealed bag containing tea leaves and used for brewing tea. Tea bags are commonly made of paper, silk or plastic. The bag contains the tea leaves while the tea is brewed, making it easier to dispose of the leaves, and performs the same function as a tea infuser...


Also, the suffixes -on and -it sometimes mark diminutive forms; the former is masculine and the latter is feminine.
  • kóva כובע (hat) : kovaʾón כובעון (small cap, also means condom)
  • yéled ילד (child) : yaldón ילדון ("kid")
  • sak שק (sack) : sakít שקית (bag; e.g. 'sakít plástik', a plastic bag)
  • kaf כף (spoon) : kapít כפית (teaspoon)

Names can be made diminutive by substituting the last syllable for suffixes such as "-ik", "-i" or "-le", sometimes slightly altering the name for pronunciation purposes. At times, a syllable can be omitted to create an independent diminutive name, to which any of the suffixes mentioned earlier can be applied. In some cases, reduplication works as well.
  • Aryé אריה : Ári ארי
  • Ariél אריאל : Árik אריק
  • Mikhaél מיכאל : Míkha מיכה
  • Aharón אהרון : Á(ha)rale אהר'לה or Rón רון, which in turn can produce Róni רוני
  • Davíd דוד : Dúdu דודו, which in turn can produce Dúdi דודי


Personal names
Chinese name
Personal names in Chinese culture follow a number of conventions different from those of personal names in Western cultures. Most noticeably, a Chinese name is written with the family name first and the given name next, therefore "John-Paul Smith" as a Chinese name would be "Smith John-Paul"...

 in Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

, excluding the family name
Family name
A family name is a type of surname and part of a person's name indicating the family to which the person belongs. The use of family names is widespread in cultures around the world...

, are usually two characters
Chinese character
Chinese characters are logograms used in the writing of Chinese and Japanese , less frequently Korean , formerly Vietnamese , or other languages...

 in length. Often, the first of the two characters is omitted and replaced with the prefix character 小 xiǎo-, literally meaning "little", or 阿 ā- (more prevalent in Southern China
Northern and southern China
Northern China and southern China are two approximate regions within China. The exact boundary between these two regions has never been precisely defined...

) to produce an affectionate, diminutive name. For example, famous Cantopop
Cantopop is a colloquialism for "Cantonese popular music". It is sometimes referred to as HK-pop, short for "Hong Kong popular music". It is categorized as a subgenre of Chinese popular music within C-pop...

 singer 劉德華 Lau Tak-Wah (Andy Lau; Liú Déhuá)
Andy Lau
Andy Lau MH, JP is a Hong Kong Cantopop singer, actor, and film producer. Lau has been one of Hong Kong's most commercially successful film actors since the mid-1980s, performing in more than 160 films while maintaining a successful singing career at the same time...

 could use the nicknames 小華 Xiăohuá or 阿華 Āhuá.

Sometimes, "-zǐ" is also used as a diminutive suffix. In the Cantonese
Standard Cantonese
Cantonese, or Standard Cantonese, is a language that originated in the vicinity of Canton in southern China, and is often regarded as the prestige dialect of Yue Chinese....

 dialect, the suffix 仔 is used after the second character in the individual's given name
Given name
A given name, in Western contexts often referred to as a first name, is a personal name that specifies and differentiates between members of a group of individuals, especially in a family, all of whose members usually share the same family name...

. Again using the name of famous Cantopop singer 劉德華 Lau Tak-Wah (Andy Lau; Liú Déhuá), the nickname he could (and does in fact) use in Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

 is 華仔 .

A very distinctive characteristic of the Beijing dialect
Beijing dialect
Beijing dialect, or Pekingese , is the dialect of Mandarin spoken in the urban area of Beijing, China. It is the phonological basis of Standard Chinese, which is used by the People's Republic of China, the Republic of China , and Singapore....

 is the usage of "er"(儿) suffix to a word, or commonly known as erhua
Erhua ; also called erhuayin refers to a phonological process that adds r-coloring or the "ér" sound to syllables in spoken Mandarin Chinese. It is most common in the speech varieties of North China, especially in the Beijing dialect, as a diminutive suffix for nouns, though some dialects also...

(儿化). The "er" suffix indicates a phonological process that adds r-coloring or the "ér" (儿) sound, as it demunitize the associated word. For example, 小孩 (xiǎohái) (small child) will be pronounced as 小孩儿 (xiǎoháir) in Beijing dialect.


See also Turkish grammar
Turkish grammar
Turkish is a highly agglutinative language, i.e., Turkish words have many grammatical suffixes or endings that determine meaning. Turkish vowels undergo vowel harmony. When a suffix is attached to a stem, the vowel in the suffix agrees in frontness or backness and in roundedness with the last vowel...

Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 diminutive suffixes are -cik and -ceğiz, and variants thereof as dictated by the vowel harmony
Vowel harmony
Vowel harmony is a type of long-distance assimilatory phonological process involving vowels that occurs in some languages. In languages with vowel harmony, there are constraints on which vowels may be found near each other....

 rules of Turkish grammar.

-cik is applied in cases of endearment and affection, in particular toward infants and young children by exaggerating qualities such as smallness and youth, whereas -ceğiz is used in situations of compassion and empathy, especially when expressing sympathy toward another person in times of difficulty. Note the effects of vowel harmony in the following examples:
  • köy (village) → köyceğiz (dear little village), kadın (woman) → kadıncağız (poor dear woman), çocuk (child) → çocukcağız (poor dear child)
  • kedi (cat) → kedicik (cute little cat), gül (laugh) → gülücük (giggles/cute little laugh), Mehmet (a common male name) → Mehmetçik
    Mehmetçik is a general term used affectionately to refer soldiers of the Ottoman Army and Turkish Army. It is the Turkish equivalent of "Tommy Atkins" for the British Army, "Doughboy" or G.I. Joe of the United States Army, "Digger" of the Australian Army and the New Zealand Army or Johnny Reb for...

     (literally little/young Mehmet but also used as an affectionate term for Turkey's
    Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

    Turkish Armed Forces
    The Turkish Armed Forces are the military forces of the Republic of Turkey. They consist of the Army, the Navy , and the Air Force...

    , see also Mehmetçik
    Mehmetçik is a general term used affectionately to refer soldiers of the Ottoman Army and Turkish Army. It is the Turkish equivalent of "Tommy Atkins" for the British Army, "Doughboy" or G.I. Joe of the United States Army, "Digger" of the Australian Army and the New Zealand Army or Johnny Reb for...



The diminutive suffixes of Estonian "-kene" in its long form, but can be shortened to "-ke". In all grammatical cases except for the nominative and partitive singular, the "-ne" ending becomes "-se". It is fully productive and can be used with every word. Some Words, such as "päike(ne)" (sun), "väike(ne)" (little) or "pisike(ne)" (tiny), are diminutive in their basic form, the diminutive suffix cannot be removed from these words. The Estonian diminutive suffix can be used recursively - it can be attached to a word more than once. Forms such as "pisikesekesekene", having three diminutive suffixes, are grammatically legitimate. As is demonstrated by the example, in recursive usage all but the last diminutive "-ne" suffix become "-se" as in forms inflected by case.


The diminutive suffixes of Finnish "-ke", "-kka", and "-nen" are not universal, and cannot be used on every noun. The feature is common in Finnish surname
A surname is a name added to a given name and is part of a personal name. In many cases, a surname is a family name. Many dictionaries define "surname" as a synonym of "family name"...

s, f.e. 'Jokinen' could translate 'Streamling', but since this form is not used in speaking about streams, the surname could also mean 'lands by the stream' or 'lives by the stream'. Double diminutives also occur in certain words f.e. lapsukainen (child, not a baby anymore), lapsonen (small child), lapsi (child).

    • -ke: haara (branch) → haarake (little branch), nimi (name) → nimike (label, tag)
    • -kka: peni (dog (archaic)) → penikka (whelp, pup), nenä (nose) → nenukka (little nose)
    • -nen: lintu (bird) → lintunen (little bird), poika (boy, son) → poikanen (little boy, animal offspring)


Hungarian uses the suffixes -ka/ke and -cska/cske to form diminutive nouns. The suffixes -i and -csi may also be used with names. However, you traditionally cannot have the diminutive form of your name registered officially in Hungary (although a few of the most common diminutive forms have been registered as possible legal first names in the past years). Nouns formed this way are considered separate words (as all words that are formed using képző type suffixes). They may not even be grammatically related to the base word, only historically, whereas the relation has been long forgotten.

Some examples:
  • Animals
    • -us: kutya → kutyus (dog), cica → cicus (cat)
    • -ci: medve → maci (bear), borjú → boci (calf)

  • Names
    • -i: János (John) → Jani, Júlia → Juli, Kata → Kati, Mária → Mari, Sára → Sári
    • -csi: János → Jancsi
    • -ika/ike: Júlia → Julika, Mária → Marika
    • -iska/iske: Júlia → Juliska, Mária → Mariska
    • -us: Béla → Bélus
    • -ci: Béla → Béci, László → Laci, Júlia → Juci
    • -có: Ferenc → Fe, József → Jo
    • -tya: Péter → Petya, Zoltán → Zotya
    • -nyi: Sándor (Alexander) → Sanyi

Note that these are all special diminutive suffixes. The universal -ka/ke and -cska/cske can be used to create further diminutive forms, e.g. kutyus
(little doggy), cicuska (little kitty). Theoretically, more and more diminutive forms can be created this way, e.g. kutyuskácskácska (little doggy-woggy-snoggy). Of course, this is not a common practice; the preferred translations are kutyulimutyuli (doggy-woggy) and cicamica (kitty-witty).

In some cases, the diminutive suffix has become part of the basic form. These are no longer regarded as diminutive forms:
  • Animals: cinke (tit), róka (fox), csóka (jackdaw), szarka (magpie), pulyka (turkey), csirke (chicken)

You can use the adjectives kicsi or kis (little) to create diminutive forms of these nouns, e.g. kicsi macska or kismacska (kitten).


See also Esperanto word formation.

For generic use (for living beings and inanimate objects), Esperanto
is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language. Its name derives from Doktoro Esperanto , the pseudonym under which L. L. Zamenhof published the first book detailing Esperanto, the Unua Libro, in 1887...

 has a single diminutive suffix, -et.
  • domo (house) → dometo (cottage)
  • varma (warm) → varmeta (lukewarm)
  • knabo (boy) → knabeto (little boy)

For personal names and familial forms of address
Style (manner of address)
A style of office, or honorific, is a legal, official, or recognized title. A style, by tradition or law, precedes a reference to a person who holds a post or political office, and is sometimes used to refer to the office itself. An honorific can also be awarded to an individual in a personal...

, the affixes -nj- and -ĉj- are used, for females and males respectively. Unusually for Esperanto, the "root" is often shortened, in an unpredictable manner, before being added to.
  • Patrino (Mother) → Panjo (Mum, Mom)
  • Mario/Maria (Mary, Maria) → Manjo, Marinjo
  • Sofio/Sofia (Sophie, Sophia) → Sonjo, Sofinjo
  • Patro (Father) → Paĉjo (Dad, Daddy)
  • Johano (John, Johann) → Johanĉjo, Joĉjo (Jack, Johnny)
  • Vilhelmo (William, Wilhelm) → Vilhelĉjo, Vilheĉjo, Vilĉjo, Viĉjo (Willy, Bill, Billy)

Whereas languages such as Spanish may use the diminutive to denote offspring, as in "perrito" (pup), Esperanto has a dedicated and regular suffix, "-id" used for this purpose. Thus "hundeto" means "little dog" (such as a dog of a small breed), while "hundido" means a dog who is not yet fully grown.


See also Free word-building in Interlingua
Free word-building in Interlingua
Words can be included in Interlingua in either of two ways: by establishing their internationality or by deriving them using Interlingua words and affixes. The second of these methods is often called free word-building.-Free derivation and compounding:...


Interlingua is an international auxiliary language , developed between 1937 and 1951 by the International Auxiliary Language Association...

 has a single diminutive suffix, -ett, for diminutives of all sorts.
  • Johannes (John) → Johannetto (Johnny)
  • camera (chamber, room) → cameretta (little room)
  • pullo (chicken) → pulletto (chick)

Use of this suffix is flexible, and diminutives such as mama and papa may also be used. To denote a small person or object, many Interlingua speakers simply use the word parve, or small:
  • parve can → small dog
  • parve arbore → small tree

See also

  • Augmentative
    An augmentative is a morphological form of a word which expresses greater intensity, often in size, but also in other attributes...

  • Hypocoristic
    A hypocorism is a shorter form of a word or given name, for example, when used in more intimate situations as a nickname or term of endearment.- Derivation :Hypocorisms are often generated as:...

  • Affect (linguistics)
    Affect (linguistics)
    In linguistics, speaker affect is attitude or emotion that a speaker brings to an utterance. Affects such as sarcasm, contempt, dismissal, distaste, disgust, disbelief, exasperation, boredom, anger, joy, respect or disrespect, sympathy, pity, gratitude, wonder, admiration, humility, and awe are...

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