What Is Diminutive In Linguistics

diminutive is a word that has been modified to convey a lesser degree of its original meaning, to convey the smallness of the object, or even, in some cases, to convey a sense of intimacy or affection. [ 1 ] [ 2 ] The diminutive form dim ) is a word-forming device used to express such meanings. In many languages, these forms can be translated as “small” and diminutives can also be formed as constructions of multiple words. Diminutives are often used when speaking to young children or when expressing extreme tenderness and intimacy to an adult. As such, they are often employed tonicknames and hypocorisms . The opposite of the diminutive form is the augmentative .

In many languages, the formation of diminutives by adding suffixes es is a productive part of the language. [ 1 ]

In English 

There are two classifications for the diminutive degree in the Portuguese language : analytical and synthetic . [ 3 ]

The analytical diminutive is made up of two words that give a unique diminishing meaning. It is a typical case of syntactic determination. Examples:

  • cat – small cat – tiny cat
  • table – small table – tiny table
  • house – small house – tiny house

The synthetic diminutive , as the name says, comes from a “synthesis” between a word and certain suffixes (and in some cases prefixes, as in a mini dictionary) to have a diminishing meaning. It is a typical case of suffixal derivation.


  • cat – kitty – kitty
  • table – coffee table – mesita
  • skirt – miniskirt – microssaia

In addition to these, there are irregular suffixes:

  • house – hut
  • wall – wall
  • street – alley
  • river – stream


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