List of Diminutives by Language
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List of Diminutives by Language

The following is a list of diminutives by language.

Indo-European languages

Germanic languages

English

English has a great variety of historical diminutives adopted from other languages but many of these are lexicalized. Productive diminutives are infrequent to nonexistent in Standard English in comparison with many other languages.[1] The most common include shortening a longer name (e.g., "Pete" for Peter) or adding the diminutive suffix ("movie" for moving picture), variously spelled -y ("Sally" for Sarah), -ie ("Maggie" for Margaret), and -i ("Dani" for Danielle).

Native English endings that could be seen as diminutives
Loanwords and native English words using foreign-language diminutives

Scots

In Lowland Scots diminutives are frequently used. The most common diminutive suffixes are -ie, -ock, -ockie (double diminutive) or the Caithness -ag (the latter from Scottish Gaelic, and perhaps reinforcing the other two before it). -ie is by far the most common suffix used. Others are -le or -er for frequentative or diminutive emphasis. Less frequent diminutives are kin (often after the diminutive -ie) and -lin.

Examples include

  • -ie: burnie (small burn), feardie or feartie (frightened person, coward), gamie (gamekeeper), kiltie (kilted soldier), mannie (man), Nessie (Loch Ness Monster), postie (postman), wifie (woman)
  • -ock: bittock (wee bit, little bit), playock (toy), sourock (sorrel),
  • -ag: Cheordag (Geordie), bairnag (small child)
  • -ockie: hooseockie (little house), wifockie (little woman)
  • -le: crummle (a bread-crumb), snirtle (snigger, snort)
  • -er: plowter (dabble), stoiter (stumble)
  • -kin: cuitikins (spatterdashes), flindrikin (light, flimsy), joskin (yokel)
  • -lin: hauflin (half-grown boy), gorblin (unfledged bird)

Dutch

In Dutch, diminutives are used extensively. Their meaning often goes beyond a reduction in size and they are not merely restricted to nouns. The nuances of meaning expressed by diminutives are particularly unique to Dutch and can be difficult to master for non-native speakers. Diminutives are very productive endings,[3] they can change the function of a word and are formed by adding one of the suffixes -je, -pje, -kje, -tje, -etje to the word in question, depending on the latter's phonology:

  • -je for words ending in -b, -c, -d, -t, -f, -g, -ch, -k, -p, -v, -x, -z or -s: neef -> neefje (male cousin, nephew), lach -> lachje (laugh), schaap -> schaapje (sheep)
  • -pje for words ending in -m: boom (tree) -> boompje (but bloemetje if the meaning is bouquet of flowers; see below)
  • -kje for words ending in -ing: koning (king) -> koninkje (the 'ng'-sound transforms into 'nk'), but vondeling -> vondelingetje (foundling)
  • -tje for words ending in -h, -j, -l, -n, -r, -w, or a vowel other than -y: zoen -> zoentje (kiss), boei -> boeitje (buoy), appel -> appeltje (apple), ei -> eitje (egg), keu -> keutje (billiard cue). In case of a single open vowel, when adding "-tje" would change the pronunciation, this vowel is doubled: auto -> autootje (car), café -> cafeetje (pub) (note the accent is lost because the 'ee' preserves the right pronunciation). The word jongen (boy) has an irregular diminutive, losing its ending -en: jongen -> jongetje
  • -?tje for words ending in -y and for abbreviations: baby -> baby'tje, cd -> cd'tje, A4 -> A4'tje
  • -etje for words ending in -b, -l, -n, -ng or -r preceded by a "short" (lax) vowel: bal -> balletje (ball), kam -> kammetje (comb), ding -> dingetje (thing), kar -> karretje (cart). Note that except for the ending -ng the final consonant is doubled to preserve the vowel's shortness.

A few words have several diminutives: kip -> kippetje or kipje (chicken), rib -> ribbetje or ribje (rib). One word has even three possible diminutives: rad -> radje, raadje or radertje (cog). A few words have more than one diminutive, of which one is formed by lengthening of the vowel sound with a different meaning. Examples: gat-gaatje/gatje, glas-glaasje/glasje, lot-lootje/lotje, pad-paadje/padje

The diminutive suffixes -ke(n) (from which the Western Dutch and later Standard Dutch form -tje has derived by palatalization), -eke(n), -ske(n), -ie, -kie, and -pie are (still) regularly used in different dialects instead of the former mentioned. Some of these form part of expressions that became standard language:

  • Slapie: a buddy who one shares sleeping quarters with
  • Jonkie: a young one
  • Koppiekoppie: smart thinking
  • Koek en zopie: small food and drinks stall for ice skaters that springs up along frozen canals during winter
  • Makkie: easy job, piece of cake (From gemak = ease.)
  • Manneke(n): little man, little fellow (from which the word mannequin was derived)
  • Bakkie: cup (of coffee), rig (radio transmitter), trailer

The form -ke(n) is nowadays still present in many women's names: Janneke (< Jan < Johannes, Dutch equivalent of John); Renske (< Rens, men's name); Marieke, Marijke, Mieke, Meike (all from Maria); Anneke (< Anna, Anne); Tineke (< Martine); Joke, Hanneke (< Johanna); and many others like Lieneke (<< Catharina, compare Caitlin), Lonneke, Wieteke, Dineke, Nelleke, etc. Similar women's names, such as Femke and Sjouke, exist in Frisian.[4] Until the early twentieth century the diminutive was a normal way (in the Netherlands, not in Belgium) of forming men's names into women's names: Dirk -> Dirkje, Pieter -> Pietertje.

In Dutch, the diminutive is not merely restricted to nouns, but the diminutive form is a noun in some cases. Note that adverbs get an extra s appended to the diminutive:

  • adjectives: groen (green) -> groentje (lit. "little green" meaning rookie) adjective -> noun
  • adverbs: even (just) -> eventjes ("just a minute"); net (neat) -> netjes (properly); zacht (soft) -> zachtjes (gently, slowly)
  • numerals: een-tweetje (numeral one-two -> with diminutive one-two pass) numeral -> noun; wij drietjes (numeral three -> with diminutive the three of us)
  • personal pronouns: onderonsje (pronoun us -> with diminutive tête-à-tête)
  • prepositions: ommetje (preposition around -> with diminutive around the block) preposition -> noun; uitje (preposition out -> with diminutive field trip, picnic) preposition -> noun
  • verbs: moetje (verb to must, to need -> with diminutive shotgun marriage) verb -> noun

Some nouns have two different diminutives, each with a different meaning:

  • bloem (flower) -> bloempje (lit. "small flower") This is the regularly formed diminutive.
  • bloem (flower) -> bloemetje (lit. also "small flower", but meaning bouquet), as it did in the song 'Dat verdient een bloemetje' that came up with this wrongful diminutive because it fitted the music better.[]
  • pop (doll) -> popje (lit. "small doll", but it is also a term of endearment).
  • pop (doll) -> poppetje (lit. also "small doll" but it means also "human figure" or a "fragile girl")

A few words exist solely in a diminutive form, e.g. zeepaardje (seahorse) and sneeuwklokje (Snowdrop), while others, e.g. meisje (girl), originally a diminutive of meid (maid), have acquired a meaning independent of their non-diminutive forms. See other examples.

A diminutive can also sometimes be added to an uncountable noun to refer to a single portion: ijs (ice, ice cream) -> ijsje (ice cream treat, cone of ice cream), bier (beer) -> biertje, cola -> colaatje.

When used, the diminutive has mostly a neutral or positive connotation:

  • Na een uurtje gekletst te hebben met haar vriend ging het meisje naar huis.
After chatting with her boyfriend for a "little" hour, the girl went home.

The diminutive can, however, also be used pejoratively.

  • Hij was vanavond weer echt het "'mannetje'".
"He acted as if he was the "little" man of the evening."

Besides the above, Dutch also has the now no longer productive diminutive -lijn (similar to the German diminutive -lein), which is preserved in several words like for example vendelijn "small flag", Duimelijn "Little Thumbling", vogelijn "little bird" and lievelijn "sweetie".

The grammatical gender of words in the diminutive is always neuter, regardless of the original gender of the words.

Afrikaans

In Afrikaans, the diminutive is formed by adding one of the suffixes -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 (little tree)
  • -kie for words ending in -ing: koning (king) -> koninkie (little king)
  • -?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 (hat) -> hoedjie (little hat)
  • -etjie for CVC words ending in -b, -l, -m, -n or -r, and requires the last consonant to be doubled if it follows a short vowel: rob (seal) -> robbetjie, bal (ball) -> balletjie, kam (comb) -> kammetjie, kar (car) -> karretjie
  • -tjie for other words ending in -l, -n, -r or a vowel: soen -> soentjie (kiss), koei (cow) -> koeitjie, appel (apple) -> appeltjie, beker (cup) -> bekertjie, baba (baby) -> babatjie

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

Afrikaans has almost identical usage and grammar for diminutive words as Dutch, the language Afrikaans was derived from (detailed above). 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, i.e. in Afrikaans (e.g. bietjie, mandjie--same meanings respectively). This reflects the usage, i.e. in the dialects of the province of Holland that most of Dutch settlers came from. Another 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 possibly 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 (few/little), mandjie (basket), baadjie (jacket) and boontjie (bean). In other cases the diminutive may be used figuratively rather than literally to imply affection, camaraderie, euphemism, sarcasm, or disdain, depending on context.


(High) German

German features words such as "Häuschen" for "small house", "Würstchen" for "small sausage" 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 Old French word conin, which in turn is from the Latin diminutive cuniculus. The use of diminutives is quite different between the dialects. The Alemannic dialects for example use the diminutive very often.

There are two suffixes that can be systematically applied in German:

  • -chen, e.g. "Brötchen" for bread roll ("little bread"; corresponding with English -kin as seen in "napkin", Low German (Low Saxon) -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/Swiss -lé (Spaetz), -li (Hörnli), Bavarian and Austrian -l, and Latin -culus'/-cula).

The contemporary colloquial diminutives -chen and -lein are always neuter in their grammatical gender, regardless of the original word. For example, the common German word for girl is das Mädchen, which is neuter because it is a diminutive of die Magd (feminine) - the maiden (Handmaid, maidservant, not: virgin).[5] While Mädchen is an everyday word, Magd is not common in modern use--and in any meaning other than "female farm employee" it is associated with medieval language (as in fables, novels, etc.). However, -ling has a masculine gender. In the cases of "Zögling", "Setzling", this form nominalizes a verb, as in, "ziehen" - "Zögling", "setzen" - "Setzling". Use of these diminutive suffixes on a finally stressed word stem causes umlaut of the stressed vowel.

Austro-Bavarian

In Bavarian and Austrian German, 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, Madl or Mäderl. It is regular for Austrians to replace the normal Bisschen ('a little' as in "Can I have a little more?") with Bissel. This has become a very distinctive feature of Austrian German. Contrary to the previous section, umlaut are not used that frequently (Gurke - Gürkchen vs. Gurkerl).

A familiar example of the -erl diminutive is Nannerl, the childhood name of Maria Anna Mozart, 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 d and umlaut), (Gott)fried > Friedl, and so on.[6][7]

Swabian

In Swabian German 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 words other than nouns may be suffixed with -le, which is not the case with other German dialects (except Bernese Swiss 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. Sabä. Corinne becomes Cogi resp. Corä. Barbara becomes Babsi resp. Babsä, Robert becomes Röbi resp. Röbu. Jakob becomes Köbi resp. Köbu. Gabriel becomes Gäbu in Highest Alemannic.

Low German

In varieties of West Low German, spoken in the east of the Netherlands, diminutives occasionally use the umlaut in combination with the suffixes -gie(n):

  • man -> m?nnegie (EN: man -> little man)
  • kom -> k?mmegie (EN: bowl -> little bowl)

In East Frisian Low Saxon, -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 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.

In Northern Low Saxon, the -je diminutive is rarely used, except maybe Gronings, 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.

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.[8] Some of these name bases are difficult to recognize in comparison to standard German; for example, Dumke, Domke < Döm 'Thomas',[9][10] Klitzke < Klitz 'Clement',[11][12] etc. Some of these names may also have Slavic or mixed Slavic-Germanic origins.[13]

Yiddish

Yiddish 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 becomes 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 origin are commonly used, mostly with proper names:

  • -ke: Khaim/Khaimke, Mordkhe/Motke, 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, 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 Israeli Hebrew: Imma (mother) to Immaleh and Abba (father) to Abbaleh.

Icelandic

A common diminutive suffix in Icelandic is -lingur:

Examples:

  • grís (pig) -> gríslingur (piglet)
  • bók (book) -> bæklingur (pamphlet/booklet)
  • jeppi (jeep) -> jepplingur (SUV)

Swedish

The Swedish use of diminutive is heavily dominated by prefixes such as "mini-", "lill-", "små-" and "pytte-" and all of these prefixes can be put in front of almost all nouns, adjectives, adverbs and verbs:

småsur (a bit angry)
pytteliten (tiny)
lillgammal (young-old, about young people who act as adults)
minilektion (short lession)
småjogga (jog nonchalantly or slowly)
minigitarr (small guitar)

The suffixes "-ling" and "-ing" are also used to some extent:

and (duck) -> älling (duckling)
kid (fawn) -> killing (goat kid)
gås (goose) -> gässling (gosling)
myndig (of age) -> myndling (person that is not of age, i.e. under 18)
halv (half) + växa (grow) -> halvväxing (semi-grown up boy)

The suffix "-is" can be used as a diminutive suffix to some extent but is often used as a slang prefix which is very colloquial.

Latin and Romance languages

Latin

See latin diminutive.

In the Latin language the diminutive is formed also by suffixes of each gender affixed to the word stem. Each variant ending matches with a blend of the variant secondary demonstrative pronouns: In Old Latin, ollus, olla, ollum; later ille, illa, illud (< illum-da to set off ileum).

  • -ulus, -ula, -ulum, e.g. globulus (globule) from globus (globe).
  • -culus, -cula, -culum, e.g. homunculus (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)
  • -ittus, -itta, -ittum (hypocoristic, a doublet of -itus)

Similarly, the diminutive of gladius (sword) is gladiolus, a plant whose leaves 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. 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.

French

French diminutives can be formed with a wide range of endings. Often, a consonant or phoneme is placed between the root word 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, i.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, Corvette, farmette). 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 from the word for the adult animal: poulain, foal (an adult horse is a cheval); agneau, lamb (an adult sheep is un mouton or either une brebis, a female sheep, or un bélier, a 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, -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 bore proper diminutives -oc and -uc, which went into words such as the Latin pocca and pucca, to become French poche (pouch); -oche is in regular use to shorten words: cinéma -> cinoche.

Italian

In Italian, the diminutive is expressed by several derivational suffixes, 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), campana -> campanello (bell-> little bell, also meaning handbell, doorbell and bike bell) or -> campanella (bell-> little bell, also meaning school bell);
  • -etto, -etta, the most used one along with -ino: casa -> casetta (house -> little house), povero -> poveretto (poor / unfortunate person ->poor little guy), cane -> cagnetto (dog -> little dog); may also be applied affectionately to names, usually female names: Laura -> Lauretta, Paola-> Paoletta
  • -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), gatto -> gattino (kitten);
  • -uccio, -uccia, similar to -ello/-ella, -etto/-etta and -ino/-ina, it is generally a loving, benign, cutesy, or affectionate diminutive suffix: tesoro->tesoruccio (literally "treasure," but used as an Italian term of endearment -> little treasure), amore -> amoruccio (Amore literally means "love", but it is often used to affectionately address someone in same sense as darling or other similar terms of endearment, just as "love" can be used as a term of endearment in English -> little darling / little love); may also be applied affectionately to names: Michele->Micheluccio, Guido-> Guiduccio. Like many diminutives, it may also be patronizing or pejorative if used in a certain context: medico-> medicuccio (medical doctor -> literally, "little doctor," used to call someone a quack), femmina -> femminuccia (female->literally, a "little girl", but colloquially refers to a weak, effeminate, effete, or cowardly male person). In Southern Italy, especially Sicily, this diminutive becomes -uzzo or -uzza.
  • -iccio, -iccia
  • -icchio, -icchia, mainly of regional use, often pejorative: sole -> solicchio (sun -> weak sun);
  • -otto, -otta, often attenuating: aquila -> aquilotto (eagle -> baby eagle), stupido -> stupidotto (stupid -> rather stupid);

Double diminutives, with two diminutive suffixes rather than one, are also possible: casa -> casetta -> casettina (house -> small house -> very small house), giovane -> giovanotto -> giovanottino (something like a young man, a lad, a youngster, etc.).

Suffixes -accio, -accia (rarely -azzo, -azza), -astro, -astra[14] and -ucolo, -ucola, also exist, but they are used to form pejorative words, with no diminutive meaning: tempo -> tempaccio (weather -> bad or foul weather), popolo->popolaccio (people->bad people, riffraff, dregs of society), amore->amorazzo (love->frivolous, short-term love story), giallo -> giallastro (yellow -> yellowish, sallow), poeta -> poetucolo or poetastro (poet -> rhymester, poetaster)

Such suffixes are of Latin origin, except -etto and -otto, which are of unclear origin.[15]

There also exist:

  • some additional hypocoristic suffixes that are used to create new adjectives from other adjectives (or, sometimes, from nouns): -iccio/a, -icciolo/a, -igno/a, -ognolo/a, -occio/a (of Latin origin, except the last one, whose origin is unclear).[16]
  • the masculine augmentative suffixe, -one, normally used for feminine nouns too instead of the rarer -ona.
Italian loanwords

Examples that made it into English are mostly culinary, like spaghetti (plural diminutive of "spago", meaning "thin string" or "twine"), linguine (named for its resemblance to little tongues ("lingue", in Italian)), bruschetta and zucchini. The diminution is often figurative: an operetta is similar to an opera, but dealing with less serious topics. "Signorina" means "Miss"; with "signorino" (Master) they have the same meanings as señorita and señorito in Spanish.

Portuguese

In Portuguese, 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 pronouns (pouco, a little -> pouquinho or poucochinho, a very small amount), adjectives (e.g. bobo -> bobinho, meaning respectively "silly" and "a bit silly"; -> sozinho, both meaning "alone" or "lonely"), adverbs (depressa -> depressinha, mean "quickly") and even verbs.

Galician

In Galician, the suffix -iño(a) is added to nouns and adjectives. It is occasionally added to adverbs, in contrast with other Romance languages: amodiño, devagariño, engordiño or the fossilized paseniño, all meaning "slowly".

Romanian

Romanian uses suffixes to create diminutives, most of these suffixes being of Latin origin. Not only names, but adjectives, adverbs and pronouns can have diminutives as well, as in Portuguese, Polish and Russian.

Feminine suffixes

  • -ea (ramur? / r?murea = tree branch)
  • -ic? (bucat? / bucic? = piece)
  • -ioar? (inim? / inimioar? = heart)
  • -i?oar? (?ar? / ri?oar? = country)
  • -i (fat? / feti = girl)
  • -u?c? (ra / ru?c? = duck)
  • -u (bunic? / bunicu = grandmother)

Masculine suffixes

  • -a? (iepure / iepura? = rabbit)
  • -el (b?iat / b?ie?el = boy)
  • -ic (tat? / t?tic = father)
  • -ior (dulap / dul?pior = locker)
  • -i?or (pui / pui?or = chicken)
  • -ule? (urs / ursule? = bear)
  • -u? (cel / celu? = dog)
  • -u? (pat / p?tu? = bed)

Adjectives

  • frumos > frumu?el (beautiful ; pretty)

Adverbs

  • repede > repejor (fast ; quite fast)

Pronouns

  • dumneata (you, polite form) > mata > m?t?lu

(used to address children respectfully in a non-familial context)

  • nimic (nothing) > nimicu?a
  • ni?el (a little something)

Spanish

Spanish 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), commonly used in Colombia and Venezuela for words ending in -to and -tro, but also common with any kind of nouns in Aragon or Murcia
  • -ín/-ina (pequeño/a, "little" -> pequeñín(a); muchacho, "boy" -> muchachín)
  • -ete/-eta (perro, "dog" -> perrete; pandero, "tambourine" -> pandereta).
  • -ingo/inga, words ending in -o, -a, -e or consonant commonly used in lowland Bolivian Spanish, (chiquito/a, "boy/girl" -> chiquitingo/chiquitinga)

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 "wall lizard"),
  • -izno/-izna (lluvia, "rain" -> llovizna "drizzle"),
  • -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, "small" -> chiquito -> chiquitito/a, chiquitico/a, chiquitín(a) and even chirriquitico.
  • pie, "foot" -> piecito -> piececito, piececillo.

Sometimes alternating different suffixes can change the meaning.

  • (la) mano, "hand" -> manita (or manito), "little hand", or manilla "bracelet", or manecilla, "clock/watch hand".
  • caña, "cane" -> canilla, literally "small cane" but actually "water tap" or, in some places, "baguette".

Catalan

Catalan uses suffixes to create diminutives:

  • -et/-eta, (braç, "arm" -> bracet "small arm"; rata, "rat" -> rateta "little rat"),
  • -ó, -ona, (carro, "cart" -> carretó "wheelbarrow"; Maria "Mary" (proper name) -> Mariona)
  • -ic/-ic, (Manel, "Emmanuel" (proper name) -> Manelic)
  • -í/-ina (corneta "cornet" -> cornetí "soprano cornet")

More than one diminutives suffix can be applied to still add more emphasis: e.g. rei, "king" -> reietó (habitual epithet directed to a little child); panxa "belly" -> panxolineta

Diminutives can also be applied to adjectives as well: e.g. petit, "small" -> petitó.

Historically other suffixes have formed diminutives as well:

  • -ell, -ella (porc "pig" -> porcell "piglet") also -ol (fill "son" -> fillol "godson")

Sometimes diminutives have changed their original meaning:

  • llenç, "piece of material" -> llençol, "blanket".

Baltic languages

Lithuanian

Lithuanian 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/-el? or -?lis/-?l?. Others include: -ukis/-uk?, -ulis/-ul?, -u?is/-u, -utis/-ut?, -ytis/-yt?, etc. Suffixes may also be compounded, e.g.: -u?is + -?lis -> -ulis. 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.[17] Lithuanian diminutives are especially prevalent in poetic language, such as folk songs. Examples:

  • uolas (oak) -> uol?lis, uoliukas
  • brolis (brother) -> brolelis, broliukas, brolytis, brolu?is, brolulis, brolutytis, broliuk?lis, etc.
  • klevas (maple) -> klevelis, klevukas, klevutis
  • pakaln? (slope) -> pakalnut? (Lily-of-the-valley, Convallaria)
  • saul? (sun) -> saulel?, saulyt?, saulut?, saulu, saulul?, etc.
  • svog?nas (onion) -> svog?n?lis (bulb), svog?niukas
  • vadovas (leader) -> vadov?lis (textbook, manual)

Latvian

In Latvian diminutives are widely used and are generally constructed with suffixes applied to the noun stem. Different diminutive forms can express smallness or intimacy: -i/-i?a"", '"'-sni?a"",""-ti/-ti?a"",""-?tis/-?te"", derogative, uniqueness or insignificantness: ""-elis/-ele"", ""-ulis/-ule"", smallness and uniqueness: ""-?ns/ene"",""-uks"". Sometimes double diminutives are derived: ""-el?tis/-el?te", ""-?nti"", ""-?ni/-en?te"". Diminutives are also often derived from adjectives and adjectives themselves in few cases can be used in diminutive forms.

Examples:

  • laiva -> laivi?a (boat)
  • sirds -> sirsni?a (heart)
  • ?dens -> ?denti (water)
  • br?lis -> br?l?tis (brother)
  • nams -> namelis (house)
  • zirgs -> zir?elis (horse)
  • gudrs -> gudrelis (smart -> smart one)
  • br?lis -> br?l?ns (brother->cousin)
  • c?lis -> c?l?ns (chicken)
  • l?cis -> luks (bear)
  • zirgs -> zir?elis -> zir?el?tis (horse)
  • ka?is -> kans -> kanti (cat)
  • kuce -> kuc?ns -> kuc?ni (bitch -> puppy)
  • mazs -> mazi (small->very small)
  • m -> m?l?gs (lovely)
  • maza pele -> mazi?a pel?te (little mouse)

Slavic languages

Slovene

Slovene typically forms diminutives of nouns (e.g., ?aj?ek < ?aj 'tea', meso < meseko 'meat'), but can also form diminutives of some verbs (e.g., bo?kati < bo?ati 'to pet, stroke'; objem?kati < objemati 'to hug') and adjectives (e.g., bolan?kan < bolan 'sick, ill').

Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian

Shtokavian dialect of Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian language most commonly use suffixes -i?, -ak (in some dialects -ek), -?e for diminutives of masculine nouns, -ica for feminine nouns and names, and -ce, -a?ce for neuter nouns.

Feminine:

  • ?aba (frog) -> ?abica
  • lopta (ball) -> loptica
  • patka (duck) -> patkica

Masculine:

  • nos (nose) -> nosi?
  • konj (horse) -> konji?, konj?e

Some masculine nouns can take two diminutive suffixes, -[a]k and -i?; in those cases, -k- becomes palatalized before -i to produce an ending -?i?:

  • sin (son) -> sin?i? (also sinak or sinek)
  • momak (boy, bachelor, itself of diminutive origin) -> mom?e, mom?i?

Neuter:

  • pero (feather) -> perce
  • jezero (lake) -> jezerce
  • sunce (sun) -> suna?ce

Kajkavian dialects form diminutives similarly to Slovene language.

Bulgarian

Bulgarian has an extended diminutive system.

Masculine nouns have a double diminutive form. The first suffix that can be added is -, (-che). At this points the noun has become neuter, because of the -e ending. The -, (-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):

  • zhena (woman) -> zhenica -> zhenichka
  • riba (fish) -> ribka -> ribchitsa
  • saksiya (flowerpot) -> saksiyka -> saksiychitsa
  • glava (head) -> gl?vitsa -> glavichka

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

Neuter nouns usually have one diminutive variant, formed by adding variations of - (-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 - (-uk) for masculine, - (-ka) for feminine and - (-ko) for neuter:

  • maluk (small) -> munichuk, malka -> munichka, malko -> munichko
  • golyam (big) -> golemichuk, golyam? -> golemichka, golyamo -> golemichko

Czech

In Czech diminutives are formed by suffixes, as in other Slavic languages. Common endings include -ka, -ko, -ek, -ík, -inka, -enka, -e?ka, -i?ka, -ul-, -unka, -í?ek, -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, "Pet?ík" 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 -e?ek ("domek" - small house, "dome?ek" - very small house), and -ík and -í?ek ("Pet?ík" - small or beloved Peter, "Pet?í?ek" - very small or cute Peter), -ko and -e?ko ("pírko" - small feather, "píre?ko" - very small feather), and -ka and -i?ka/-e?ka ("tlapka" - small paw, "tlapi?ka" - very small paw; "pe?inka" - small duvet, "pe?ine?ka" - 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. "ko?ka" (notice the -ka ending) means "cat" (of normal size), "ko?i?ka" 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 "ob?ík" (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 "mimine?í?ko" (very small and cute baby), instead of correct "miminko" and "mimine?ko". 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) -> ta?ka (daddy), Anna -> Anka, Ivana -> Ivanka, hora (mountain) -> h?rka (a very small mountain or big hill), noha (leg, foot) -> no?ka (a little leg, such as on a small animal)

/-ko/ (neuter noun forms)

  • rádio -> rádijko, víno (wine) -> vínko, triko (T-shirt) -> tri?ko, pero (feather) -> pírko, oko (eye) -> o?ko

/-ek/ (masculine noun forms)

  • d?m (house) -> domek, st?l (table) -> stolek, schod (stair/step) -> sch?dek, prostor (space) -> prost?rek, strom (tree) -> stromek

/-ík/

  • Tom (Tom) -> Tomík (little/cute/beloved Tom = Tommy), pokoj (room) -> pokojík, k?l (stake/pole) -> kolík, rum (rum) -> rumík, ko? (basket) -> ko?ík

Polish

In Polish 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 children's speech during the time of language acquisition.[18]

For adjectives and adverbs, diminutives in Polish are grammatically separate from comparative forms.

There are multiple affixes used to create the diminutive. Some of them are -ka, -czka, -?ka, -szka, -cia, -sia, -unia, -enka, -lka for feminine nouns and -ek, -yk, -ciek, -czek, -czyk, -szek, -u?, -u?, -e?ki, -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, malusie?ki is considered even smaller than malusi or male?ki. 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.

There are also diminutives that lexicalized, e.g., sto?ek (stool), which is grammatically a diminutive of stó? (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:

Feminine

  • ?aba (frog) -> ?abka, ?abcia, ?abusia, ?abe?ka, ?abule?ka, ?abeczka, ?abunia
  • córka (daughter) -> córeczka, córunia, córcia (Originally córka was created as diminutive from córa, which is no longer in common use.)
  • kaczka (duck) -> kaczuszka, kaczusia, kaczunia
  • Katarzyna (Katherine) -> Kasia, Ka?ka, Kasie?ka, Kasiunia, Kasiulka, Kasiuleczka, Kasiuneczka
  • Anna (Anna) -> Ania, Anka, A?cia, Anusia, Anu?ka, Aneczka, Anulka, Anuleczka
  • Ma?gorzata (Margaret) -> Ma?gorzatka, Ma?gosia, Ma?go?ka, Gosia, Gosie?ka, Gosiunia, Gosiula

Masculine

  • ch?opak (boy) -> ch?opczyk, ch?opaczek, ch?opiec (Originally ch?opak was created as diminutive from Old Polish ch?op, which now means "peasant".)
  • kot (cat) -> kotek, koteczek, koci?tko, kociak, kociaczek, kocio, kicia, kiciunia, kotu?, kotunio[19]
  • pies (dog) -> piesek, pieseczek, piesio, piesiunio, psinka, psineczka, psiaczek
  • Grzegorz (Gregory) -> Grze?, Grzesiek, Grzesio, Grzesiu, Grzeniu, Grzenio
  • Micha? (Michael) -> Micha?ek, Micha?, Misiek, Michasiek, Michaszek, Misiu, Minio
  • Piotr (Peter) -> Piotrek, Piotru?, Piotrusiek
  • Tomasz (Thomas) -> Tomek, Tomu?, Tomcio, Tomeczek, Tomaszek
  • ptak (bird) -> ptaszek, ptaszeczek, pta?, ptasi?tko

Neuter

  • pióro (feather) -> piórko, pióreczko
  • serce (heart) -> serduszko, serde?ko
  • mleko (milk) -> mleczko
  • ?wiat?o (light) -> ?wiate?ko
  • s?o?ce (sun) -> s?oneczko, s?onko

Plural

  • kwiaty (flowers) -> kwiatki, kwiatuszki, kwiateczki

Adjectives

  • ma?y (small) (masculine) -> male?ki, malusi, malutki, malu?ki, malusie?ki
  • ma?a (small) (feminine) -> male?ka, malusia, malutka, malu?ka, malusie?ka
  • zielony (green) (masculine) -> zieloniutki
  • zielonkawy (greenish) (masculine) -> zieloniutkawy
  • mi?kkie (soft) (neuter) -> mi?ciutkie

Adverbs

  • pr?dko (fast) -> pr?dziutko, pr?dziute?ko, pr?dziu?ko, pr?dziusie?ko[19]
  • pr?dzej (faster) -> pr?dziusiej
  • fajnie -> fajniusio
  • super -> supcio

Verbs

  • p?aka? (to weep) -> p?akunia?, p?aku?cia?, p?akusia?[19]

Russian

Russian 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 -, -, - (-ik, -ok, -yok, masculine gender), --, --, -o- or -?- (-chk-, -shk-, -on'k-, -en'k-) infixes and suffixes. For example, ? (voda, water) becomes ? (vodichka, affectionate name of water), (kot, male cat) becomes (kotik, affectionate name), (koshka, female cat) becomes ? (koshechka, affectionate name), (solntse, sun) becomes (solnyshko). Often there are many diminutive forms for one word: ? (mama, mom) becomes ? (mamochka, affectionate sense), (mamulya, affectionate and playful sense), (mamen'ka, affectionate and old-fashioned), (mamanya, 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: (pirog, a pie) becomes ? (pirozhok, a small pie, or an affectionate name), which then may become (pirozhochek, a very small pie, or an affectionate name). The same with (syr, cheese), (syrok, an affectionate name or a name of a small packed piece of cheese, see the third paragraph), ? (syrochek, an affectionate name). In both cases the first suffix - changes ? to ?, when the suffix - is added.

Often formative infixes and suffixes look like diminutive ones. The well-known word, (vodka), has the suffix, "-ka", which is not a diminutive, but formative, the word has a different meaning (not water, but a drink) and has its own diminutive suffix -ochka: ? (vodochka) is an affectionate name of vodka (compare voda - vodichka). There are many examples of this kind: ? (sota, a honeycomb) and (sotka, one hundred sqr. meter), (truba, a tube) and (trubka, a special kind of a tube: telephone receiver, TV tube, tobacco pipe - in all these cases there is no diminutive sense). However, 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: (kuchka, a small pile) -> ? (kucha, a pile) - the general meaning remains, it is a diminutive form, but (tachka, wheelbarrow) -> ? (tacha, no such word) - the general meaning changes, it is not a diminutive form, ? (potolok, ceiling) -> (potol, no such word) - the same with masculine gender.

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

Adjectives and adverbs can also have diminutive forms with infix -?- (-en'k-): (siniy, blue) becomes (sinen'kiy), (bystro, quickly) becomes ? (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:

Feminine

  • Anastasiya -> Nastya (as in Nastya Liukin), Nasten'ka, Nastyona
  • Anna -> Anya, An'ka, Anka, Anechka, Annushka, Anyuta, Nyura, Nyuta, Nyusha
  • Irina -> Ira, Irka, Irinka, Irinushka, Irochka, Irisha
  • Natalya -> Natasha, Natashka, Natashen'ka, Nata, Natalka
  • Tatyana -> Tanya, Tan'ka, Tanechka, Tanyusha, Tata, Tanchik
  • Yelizaveta -> Liza, Lizochka, Lizka, Lizon'ka, Lizaveta
  • Yekaterina -> Katya, Katyusha, Katen'ka, Kat'ka, Katechka, Katerina
  • Yevgeniya -> Zhenya, Zhen'ka, Zhenechka

Masculine

  • Aleksander -> Sasha, Sashka, Sashen'ka, Sashechka, Sanya, Shura, Sashok, Shurik
  • Aleksey -> Alyosha (as in Alyosha Popovich), Alyoshka, Alyoshen'ka, Lyosha, Lyoshka, Lyoshen'ka, Leksey
  • Andrej -> Andryusha, Andryushka, Andryushechka, Dyusha, Andreika
  • Anton -> Antosha, Antoshka, Tosha, Toshka
  • Dmitriy -> Dima, Mitya, Dimka, Dimushka, Dimochka, Miten'ka, Dimok, Diman, Dimon, Mityai
  • Ivan -> Vanya, Van'ka, Vanechka, Vanyusha, Vanyushka, Ivanushka
  • Mikhail -> Misha, Mishka, Mishen'ka, Mishechka, Mishutka, Mikhei, Mikhailo
  • Pyotr -> Petya, Pet'ka, Peten'ka, Petyunya
  • Sergej -> Seryoga, Seryozha, Seryozhka, Seryozhen'ka, Seryi
  • Vladimir -> Volodya, Voloden'ka, Vova, Vovka, Vovochka, Vovan, Vovchik

Celtic languages

Irish

In the Irish language 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) > cnocán (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) -> Niseag ("Nessie")
  • -(e)an, masculine: loch -> lochan, bodach (old man) -> bodachan (mannikin)

Greek

Ancient Greek

Several diminutive derivational suffixes existed in Ancient Greek. The most common ones were --, -?-/-?-, ---, ---.[20] Often there is phonetic change in the transition from the nominative case forms to the oblique cases, with the diminutives based on the oblique form, as in the examples of and ? below, in which the diminutive is based on a dental consonant instead of the sibilant ending of the nominative form.

Original noun Diminutive

ánthr?pos
"person" ??
anthr?pískos
"mannequin"

bíblos
"papyrus" ??
biblíon
"paper", "book"

xíphos
"sword" ??
xiphídion
"dagger"
?
pais[21]
"child" ???
paidárion
"little child"

Modern Greek

Diminutives are very common in Modern Greek with every noun having its own diminutive.[] They express either small size or affection: size -aki (/spiti "house", ?/spitaki "little house"; /lathos "mistake", /lathaki "negligible mistake") or affection -ula (?/mana "mother", ?/manula "mommy"). The most common suffixes are -?/-akis and -/-ulis for the male gender, -?/-itsa and -?/-ula for the female gender, and -/-aki for the neutral gender. Several of them are common as suffixes of surnames, originally meaning the offspring of a certain person, e.g. /Papas "priest" with /Papadakis as the surname.

Indic languages

Hindi

In Hindi, Some common nouns and adjectives which are declinable and some which end in a consonant can be made diminutive by changing the end gender-marking vowel ? (?) or ? (?) to ? (?) or by adding the vowel to ? (?) respectively.

Noun or adjective Diminutive
kid bacc? bacc?
bacc?
fat ? mo ? mo
? mo
round gol ? gol?

For some inanimate masculine nouns which end in the vowel ? (?), feminising it by changing the ? (?) end vowel to ? (?) can make it diminutive.

Nouns or adjective Diminutive
Hammer hathau hathau
Letter, Chit parc? parc?
Leaf patt? patt?
Box dabb? dabb?

Some proper nouns are made diminutive with ? (-u). This is most often applied to children's names, though lifelong nicknames can result:

Nouns or adjective Diminutive
r?j?v ? r?j?
an?t? ? n?t?
anjal? ? anj?

Punjabi

In Punjabi, oftentimes feminine inanimate nouns tend be diminutives of a masculine noun. This change can be brought by replacing the vowel ? by ?. Most diminutives just differ in size from the base word.

  • ? - ? (Box, Case)
  • - (Needle)

With animals, there may sometimes be a change in meaning.

  • ? - ? (Insect - Ant)

Haryanvi

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 'di' for a female

Magahi

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 -> Anjalia

Marathi

In Marathi, 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 () -> Abhya ()
  • Rajendra () -> Rajya (), Raju (?)

Feminine :

  • Ashwini (?) -> Ashu ()
  • Namrata () -> Namee (), Namu ()

Sinhala

In Sinhala, proper nouns are made diminutive with -a after usually doubling the last pure consonant, or adding -iya. In doing so, often the last few characters are dropped.

  • Rajitha -> Rajja or Rajiya
  • Romesh -> Romma or Romiya
  • Sashika -> Sashsha or Sashiya
  • Ramith -> Ramma or Ramiya

Sometimes, you don't double the last constant or don't add -iya after dropping the last few characters.

  • Rajitha -> Raj
  • Dhanushka -> Dhanu

It seems that the sound is the decisive factor here, so it might be useless to find some grammatical devices here. For example, the proper noun (name) Wickramananayaka can make the diminutive Wicky. Here, only the first syllable is what is focused on. Therefore, Wicky can be the diminutive of all forms of names that start with Wick, like Wickramasinghe, Wickramaratne, Wickramabahu, and so on.

Iranian languages

Kurdish

Northern Kurdish or Kurmanji uses mostly "-ik" suffix to make diminutive forms:

  • keç (girl, daughter) -> keçik (little girl)
  • hirç (bear) -> hirçik (teddybear)

-ûç\-oç; kiçoç, piçûç. -il; zengil, çingil. -çe\-çik; baxçe, rûçik. -ole; hirçole, kiçole. -ok; kiçkok, berxok, derok. ...etc.

Persian

The most frequently used Persian diminutives are -cheh (-) and -ak (?-).

  • Bâgh (garden) -> bâghcheh (small garden)
  • Mard (man) -> mardak ? (this fellow)

Other less used ones are -izeh and -zheh.

  • Rang (colour) -> rangizeh (pigment)
  • Nây (pipe) -> nâyzheh (small pipe, bronchus)

Armenian

Armenian diminutive suffixes are -ik, -ak and -uk. For example, the diminutive forms of (tat, grandmother), (get, river) and ? (gayl, wolf) are (tatik), (getak), and ? (gayluk), respectively.

Semitic languages

Arabic

In Modern Standard Arabic the usual diminutive pattern is Fu`ayL (CuCayC), Fu`ayy`eL, and Fu`ayy`eiL with or without the feminine -a added:

  • k?t (fort) -> kuwayt ? (little fort)
  • kit?b (book) -> kutayyeb (booklet)
  • hirra (cat) -> hurayra ? (kitten)
  • kalb (dog) -> kulayb ? (doggie)
  • najm (star) -> nujaym ? (starlet)
  • jabal (mountain) -> jubayl ? (little mountain)

In certain varieties of Arabic, (e.g. Egyptian) reduplication of the last syllable is also used (similarly to Hebrew), as in:

  • baa (duck) -> ba?ba (small duck)

Hebrew

Modern Hebrew employs a reduplication pattern of its last syllable to mark diminutive forms.

  • kélev (dog) : klavláv (doggie)
  • khatúl ? (cat) : khataltúl (kitty)
  • batsál (onion) : b'tsaltsál (shallot)
  • adóm ? (red) : adamdám (reddish)
  • dag (fish) : dagíg ? (small fish)
  • sak (sack) : sakík ? (sachet; e.g. 'sakík te', a tea bag)

Also, the suffixes -on and -it sometimes mark diminutive forms; sometimes the former is masculine and the latter is feminine.

  • kóva ? (hat) : kova?ón (small cap, also means condom)
  • yéled (child) : yaldón ("kid")
  • sak (sack) : sakít ? (bag; e.g. 'sakít plástik', a plastic bag)
  • kaf (spoon) : kapít ? (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 ? : Ári
  • Ariél  : Árik ?
  • Adám  : Ádamke '
  • Mikhaél  : Míkha ?
  • Aharón  : Á(ha)rale ' or Rón , which in turn can produce Róni ?
  • Davíd  : Dúdu ?, which in turn can produce Dúdi ?

Sino-Tibetan languages

Chinese

Diminutives in Chinese are typically formed in one of three ways: by repetition or by the addition of a "cute" prefix or suffix.

Chinese given names are usually one or two characters in length. The single character or the second of the two characters can be doubled to make it sound cuter. Some given names, such as Sun Feifei's, are already formed in this way. Throughout China, the single character or the second of the two characters can also be prefixed by "Little" (?, xi?o) or--mostly in Southern China--by "Ah" (?, ?) to produce an affectionate or derisive diminutive name. For example, Andy Lau (, Liú Déhuá) might be referred to as "Little Wah" (??, Xi?ohuá) or "Ah-Wah" (??, ?huá).

In Cantonese, "child" (?, zai²) is also used as a diminutive suffix.[22] Andy Lau's more common nickname in Hong Kong is "Wah Zai" (??, Waa?-zai²). Cute suffixes in Mandarin include "-a" (?, a) and -ya (?, y?).

Turkic languages

Turkish

See also Turkish grammar

Turkish diminutive suffixes are -cik and -ce?iz, and variants thereof as dictated by the consonant assimilation and vowel harmony 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 -ce?iz 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) -> köyce?iz (dear little village, also a place name)
  • kad?n (woman) -> kad?ncaz (poor dear woman)
  • çocuk (child) -> çocukçaz (poor dear child)
  • kedi (cat) -> kedicik (cute little cat, kitten)
  • köpek (dog) -> köpecik (cute little dog, puppy)
  • kitap (book) kitapç?k (little book, pamphlet)

It's not common, but some adjectives may also have diminutives.

  • küçük (little) -> küçücük (tiny)
  • s?cak (hot) -> s?cac?k (cozy, warm)
  • çabuk (quick) -> çabucak (quickly) -> çabucac?k (in no time)

There are a few exceptions; gülücük (giggle) is derived from the verb gülmek (to laugh), but it's not considered a diminutive. Çocuk (kid, child) is not a diminutive, and it can't take a diminutive suffix. K?lç?k (fish bone) may look like a diminutive, but it's not related to k?l (body hair) anyway. And k?z?lc?k (dogwood, dogberry) is not a diminutive of k?z?l (bright red), and gelincik (weasel) is not a diminutive of gelin (bride). (see also: Mehmetçik)

Uralic languages

Estonian

The diminutive suffix of Estonian is "-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.

Finnish

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 surnames, 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).

Examples:

    • -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

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 képz? 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), liba -> libuci (goose)
    • -ka/-ke: madár -> madárka (bird), egér -> egérke (mouse)
    • -cska/-cske: hal -> halacska, méh -> méhecske (bee)
  • Names
    • -i: János -> Jani, Júlia -> Juli, Kata -> Kati, Mária -> Mari, Sára -> Sári, Gerg?/Gergely -> Geri, Domo(n)kos -> Domi
    • -i-ka/ke: János -> Janika, Júlia -> Julika, Mária -> Marika, Ferenc -> Ferike, Teréz(ia) -> Terike
    • -csi: János -> Jancsi, Júlia -> Julcsi, Mária -> Marcsi
    • -iska/-iske/-uska: Júlia -> Juliska, Mária -> Mariska, Ilona -> Iluska
    • -us: Béla -> Bélus, Júlia/Judit -> Jucus
    • -ci: László -> Laci, Júlia/Judit -> Juci, Anna -> Anci
    • -có: Ferenc -> Fe, József -> Jo
    • -ca: Ilona -> Ica, László -> Laca
    • -tya: Péter -> Petya, Zoltán -> Zotya
    • -nyi: Sándor -> Sanyi, Mária -> Manyi

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. kutyuska (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).

Bantu languages

Chichewa

Chichewa noun class 12 and 13 contain diminutive prefixes. The prefixes are ka (12) for singular nouns and ti (13) for plural nouns. These classes do not contain any words as opposed to the augmentative marker, which is also a regular noun class containing nouns.

  • mwana (child) -> kamwana (little child)
  • ana (children) -> tiana (little children)

seSotho

In the Sotho languages (South Sotho, Setswana, and Sesotho sa Lebowa), the diminunitive is formed with variants of the -ana suffix.

  • mo?emane (boy) -> mo?emanyana (small boy)
  • koloi (car, wagon) -> koloinyana (small car)
  • kolobe (pig) -> kolobjana (piglet)

Algonquian languages

Cree

Cree uses two basic diminutives.

  • -i? (-is in the western dialects) to indicate a smaller version of a noun:
sâkahikan (lake) -> sâkahikani? (small lake)
  • -i?i? (-isis in the western dialects) to indicate either a very small version of a noun or a young version of the noun:
sâkahikani? (small lake) -> sâkahikani?i? (pond)

In both dimunutives, sound changes may be triggered as ?t?->?c? in most dialects, and ?s?-> in the eastern dialects.

  • atim (dog) -> acimo?i? (puppy)

Ojibwe

See also Ojibwe grammar.

Ojibwe has several different types of diminutive suffixes.

  • Adorative-diminutive: /ish/
anim /animw/ (dog) -> animosh /animwish/ (doggy)
  • Affective-diminutive: /iz(s)/
ikwe (woman) -> ikwes (dear woman)
  • Productive-diminutive, a.k.a. "diminutive": /enz(s)/
ikwes /ikwez(s)/ (dear woman) -> ikwezens /ikwezenz(s)/ (girl)

The following diminutives palatize (noted as /y_/) all the preceding ?d? -> ?j?, ?s? -> ?sh?, ?t? -> ?ch?, ?z? -> ?zh?.

  • Pejorative-diminutive, a.k.a. "pejorative": /y_ish/
ikwezens /ikwezenz(s)/ (girl) -> ikwezhenzhish /ikwezyenzyish/ (bad girl)
  • Contemptive-diminutive, a.k.a. "contemptive": /y_eny(h)/
gwiiwizens /gwiiwizenz(s)/ (boy) -> gwiiwizhenzhenh /gwiiwizyenzyeny(h)/ (no-good boy)
  • Verbal diminutive: /y_ijiiny(h)/
animokaa (be abundant with dogs) -> animokaajiinh (bitch)

International auxiliary languages

Esperanto

See also Esperanto word formation.

For generic use (for living beings and inanimate objects), Esperanto has a single diminutive suffix, "-et".

  • domo (house) -> dometo (cottage)
  • knabo (boy) -> knabeto (little boy)
  • varma (warm) -> varmeta (lukewarm)

For personal names and familial forms of address, the affixes "-nj-" and "-?j-" are used, for females and males respectively. Unusually for Esperanto, the "root" is often shortened.

  • patrino (mother) -> panjo (mum, mommy)
  • patro (father) -> pa?jo (dad(dy))
  • Aleksandra (Alexandra) -> Alenjo (Sandra)
  • Aleksandro (Alexander) -> Ale?jo (Sandro)
  • Johano (John) -> Jo?jo (Johnny)
  • Maria (Mary) -> Manjo
  • Sofia (Sophie) -> Sonjo
  • Vilhelmo (William) -> Vil?jo (Bill(y), Will(y))

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.

Interlingua

See also Free word-building in Interlingua.

Interlingua 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

Notes and references

  1. ^ Klaus P. Schneider, Diminutives in English, Max Niemeyer Verlag 2003. ISBN 3484304790
  2. ^ Albert J. Carnoy (1917). Apophony and Rhyme Words: III. The Suffixes: -ittus, -attus, -ottus, -iccus, -accus, -occus. American journal of philology, Volume 38. Johns Hopkins Press. pp. 278-284.
  3. ^ Bruce Donaldson, Dutch: A Comprehensive Grammar, Routledge, 2008. ISBN 1134082363, 9781134082360, p.61
  4. ^ http://www.friesenamen.nl/meisjesnamen
  5. ^ Seebold, Elmar. 1999. Kluge Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache, 23rd edition. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, p. 530.
  6. ^ Schiffmann, Konrad. 1922. Das Land ob der Enns: eine altbaierische Landschaft in den Namen ihrer Siedlungen; Berg, Flüsse und Seen. Munich: Oldenbourg, p. 133.
  7. ^ Schmeller, Johann Andreas. 1872-1877. Bayerisches Wörterbuch. Munich: Oldenbourg, p. 1738.
  8. ^ Hirt, Herman. 1968. Etymologie der neuhochdeutschen Sprache. Munich: C. H. Beck, p. 365.
  9. ^ "Domke," in Hanks, Patrick, ed. 2003. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  10. ^ "Domke," in Hanks, Patrick, ed. 2003. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  11. ^ "Klitz," in Hanks, Patrick, ed. 2003. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  12. ^ "Klitzke," in Hanks, Patrick, ed. 2003. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  13. ^ Gahlow, Hans. 1982. Pommersche Familiennamen: ihr Geschichts- und Heimatwert. Neustadt/Aisch: Degener, pp. 33, 34, 52.
  14. ^ Corresponding etymologically to the suffix -aster, also sometimes used in English.
  15. ^ Luca Serianni, Grammatica italiana, UTET, 1989. XV.70-75.
  16. ^ Luca Serianni, Grammatica italiana, UTET, 1989. XV.54.
  17. ^ Studies on word-formation in Lithuanian (1944-1974), Antanas Klimas, University of Rochester
  18. ^ Ewa Haman, EARLY PRODUCTIVITY IN DERIVATION. A CASE STUDY OF DIMINUTIVES IN THE ACQUISITION OF POLISH", Psychology of Language and Communication 2003, Vol. 7, No. 1 (pdf) Archived 2012-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ a b c Jan Miodek, "PIENIKI DLA MAONKI", Wiedza i Zycie, 1, 1998. http://archiwum.wiz.pl/1998/98013200.asp (copy)
  20. ^ Herbert Weir Smyth. A Greek grammar for colleges. page 235, paragraph 852: diminutives.
  21. ^ ?
  22. ^ 1.

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