From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Linguistics  
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Linguistics, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Linguistics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.

This is the discussion/talk page for article: Diminutive.

Talk-page subpages:

Topics from 2004[edit]

Pre-2005 comments[edit]

What is the direct opposite of "diminutive", in language? Enlargative? Increasimal? English doesn't seem to use a big version of words, but other languages do. Michael Z.

My OED doesn't offer "maximative"... Will this be for an encyclopedia article? Or more of a Wiktionary definition? --Wetman`
No plans to write about it at this time. It came to mind when discussing something completely unrelated. Michael Z. 17:30, 2004 Nov 5 (UTC)
Augmentative --Schuetzm 18:22, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Thank you. I finally needed this, and remembered where to look! Michael Z. 2008-03-30 07:42 Z

Topics from 2005[edit]

English diminutives[edit]

From the introduction (3 June 2005): A diminutive is a formation of a word used to convey a slight degree of the root meaning, smallness of the object named, intimacy, or endearment.

I find the discussion of English diminutives a bit strange. From a selection of diminutives from the article (undies, movies, hottie, ambos, firies, perhaps with the exception of the Australian -za forms, which I'm unfamiliar with) I don't see how any of them have anything to do with the definition I quote. Slight? Smaal? Intimacy? Endearment? Furthermore, I see no mention of English diminutives along the lines of pig -> piglet - which is what I thought would be mentioned. I don't consider my quoted list (undies, etc.) as diminutives - they are merely short forms of the word (or do people consider "States" to be a diminutive for the USA?). True diminutives (like the ones from the germanic languages, and probably things like piglet) really carry a definite meaning difference compared to the normal form. As I see it "undies" is just another (albeit less formal) word for underwear. Forgive me if the only problem is my lack of knowledge about English.

I'll leave it to someone English to make appropriate changes. --(Alias at af.wp) 05:52, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)

It seems to me that the world "diminutive" is used in a broader and more vague sense when speaking about English than when referring to "non-english" languages. In the non-english languages I have some slight knowledge of (German, Latin, Czech, Polish, Russian) the basic meaning of diminution by diminutive suffixes is "smallness of the object named"; endearment, intimacy etc. is secondary and dependent on context. For example, the name of the last Roman emperor of the western part of the Roman Empire - Romulus Augustus - was diminuted to Romulus Augustulus (little Augustus) to emphasize the contrast between the grandness of the name and political insignificance of its bearer, in this case the connotation of diminution is derogatory, no endearment here.

I have edited the definition to be more applicable to non-english languages. Consequently it is now less applicable to English which does not have "true diminutives" formed in regular way, except for some words like your example of "piglet". The basic problem is how to reconcile the fact that this is English language Wikipedia, but the subject of the article is a general linguistic phenomenon for which the English does not provide very good examples. By the way, we do not have any examples of diminutives in languages which do not belong to the indo-european group.--Georgius 15:13, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I agree with the objections made in this section. Perhaps we should take as starting point that English does not have diminutives, or at least not in a way it works in other languages. Therefore, this entry might be claried when restructured by illustrating the morphology and use of diminutive in languages other than English. At the end then, we could still have a section "Diminutives in English", but it should first become clear what diminutives are by examples from other languages. Dutch and German for instance are much more systematic and clear in this regard, but perhaps I'm not Anglocentric enough to even think about it in this way. Finally, can't diminutives in English be seen as hypocoristics? (talk) 12:00, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

I was confused by the article text re English. This discussion clears that up - but it would be good if someone could edit the article. I'm hoping someone from the field will take this on, otherwise I will have a go. -- (talk) 19:04, 5 December 2009 (UTC)

Non-English languages with regular use of diminutive suffixes[edit]

Due to a technical error I have posted this edit without a summary, sorry. I hope it may be a step toward making the meaning of diminution more clear. See also Talk above. All the languages listed in this section up to now fit the description "regular use of diminutive suffixes". If someone adds a language in which diminutives are formed in some other way, the structure of the article would have to be changed accordingly. --Georgius 6 July 2005 15:36 (UTC)

I've forgotten too much since I learned Russian, so I don't dare to correct the article directly. Yet I am 100 % sure that кот means tomcat, i.e., male cat, and кошка means female cat. The word for kitten is котёнок. The suffix -ёнок is probably reserved solely to youngs of animals (лиса (fox) — лисёнок (fox puppy)), so it is not a regular diminutive suffix.

The suffixes -ка, -чка, -шка apply only to feminine nouns. Using вода as an example is rather misleading due to the other meaning of водка (and I am not sure that водка is really a diminutive of вода). A better example could be собака (dog) — собачка (little dog, doggie, but not puppy, that would be щенок), although it involves the change of the stem-ending "к" to "ч", which is a regular change shared with other Slavic languages. I can't now recall examples for the other suffixes.

The diminutive suffixes applicable to masculine nouns are -ик, -ек, -ок, and probably -ёк. Examles could be дом (house) — домик (little house), кусок (piece) — кусочек (little piece) (which is also another example of the "к"-to-"ч" change), круг (circle) — кружок (little circle) (featuring another stem-ending change: "г" to "ж").

At the moment, I can't recall the suffixes and devise examples for neuter nouns. — Ján Kľuka, 2005-08-14T22:35Z

Mostly you are right. I've fixed it. "Vodka" (водка) is not a diminutive of "water" (вода). Interestingly, they have very similar diminutives водаводичка, водкаводочка, it is a basis of one story about Russian joke.-- 20:37, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

Bunny vs Rabbit[edit]

But how to describe Bunny and Rabbit? Is bunny a diminutive? 19:42, 30 September 2005 (UTC) (originally placed on article page, moved by —Felix the Cassowary (ɑe hɪː jɐ) 23:36, 30 September 2005 (UTC))

It strikes me as being like an English diminutive/hypocoristic, but (of course) not like a proper diminuitive. —Felix the Cassowary (ɑe hɪː jɐ) 23:36, 30 September 2005 (UTC)
Not linguistically, anyway. In any case, the term "bunny" could also be used to describe a hare, as well as a rabbit, so there's not a one-to-one correlation. samwaltz 20:28, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

Topics from 2006[edit]

-ling suffix in German is not used for the diminutive[edit]

The article claimed:

There is another suffix (corresponding with English ling), that appears figuratively but that is not simply used to modify existing words:
  • -ling e.g. "Lehrling" for apprentice (though literally teachlet), and "Feigling" for coward (feig/feige cowardly + -ling = Feigling little cowardly [one])

This is incorrect. The "-ling" suffix is not used to form diminutives. "Lehrling" means "one who is being teached" and is derived from "Lehre" (teaching). "Feigling" means "one who is cowardly". There is no diminution involved, and, tellingly, the German Wikipedia entry on the diminutive does not even mention the "-ling" suffix. Aragorn2 16:16, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

Dutch example diminuitives that should be corrected or just left out[edit]

  • groen (green)- "groentje" (lit. little green" meaning rookie) - this is true


  • groen (green) - "groentjes" (lit.little green meaning greenish") - absolutely not true. "groentjes" is multiple for "groentje" ("greenish" would be "groenig", "alike green")
  • net (tidy) - "netjes" (lit little tidy meaning "tidy-ish") - There is no difference in meaning for "net" and "netjes"
  • zacht (soft) - "zachtjes" (lit.little soft meaning "softly") - true

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

  • bloem (flower) - bloempje (lit. "small/little flower") meaning little/small flower) - true
  • bloem (flower) - bloemetje (lit. "small/little flower" meaning bouquet) - not true. "bloemetje" can also mean "little flower"

My English isn't that good, so I don't dare to edit the page. Will someone please correct this? -- (talk) 01:10, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Expert expansion[edit]

It looks to me that the article needs expansion by a knowledgeable person. The English section is woefully small (given this is the English Wikipedia). Also, the coverage of other languages is very uneven; French for instance should mention "-elle", shouldn't it? Non-European languages have little coverage; Japanese might be interesting. Does Chinese not have an equivalent because it doesn't use affixes, or is there a multi-word equivalent? I'll add an "expert" tag. -R. S. Shaw 19:54, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

Shaw, you are taxing my brain, but -ette seems the vastly more used suffix to provide a diminutive. -elle is used, but it is a definite minority. This article attempts, necessarily so, only the broad strokes. If anything it attempts to cover too much ground. It can not possibly cover, to a thorough degree, all of these languages. I am not sure an expert is needed, but rather just additional edits. However, I would also favor deleting all of the individual language examples for many languages and summarize that most, if not all, langauages use dimiuitives. I will delete the tag, but will not be insistent should another editor think it needs to return. Storm Rider (talk) 08:26, 5 November 2006 (UTC)
Shaw, the fact this is English wikipedia means that all the articles should be in English, not that English language should be in the middle of linguistic attention. The English diminutive system if fairly simple, barely used and not so interesting, compared, for example, to Bulgarian. Glamdring 17:21, 7 February 2007 (UTC)Glammy
I agree with you that the article should give balanced coverage to all languages, not just English, but saying that English is "not so interesting" is a POV personal judgment that has no place in Wikipedia. —Lowellian (reply) 14:03, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
In this particular case it's pretty much a neutral fact—he said that the diminutive system in English is barely used, not that English as a language in general is uninteresting. Therefore it makes sense for the article on diminutive to give more space to languages that actually have grammatical diminutive forms and use them extensively. --Delirium 19:14, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

Category change[edit]

I have changed the Category:Given names on this article to Category:Names; I am trying to group all the articles about naming - types of names, naming schemes, etc - there, while keeping all the articles on actual names in Category:Given names and Category:Surnames. --Brianyoumans 08:34, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

Topics from 2007[edit]

The division of languages: English vs non-English[edit]

In terms of linguistics such a division (English vs non-English) is inconsistent - English is not very reasonable. So I suppose that the English is put as one of the Germanic languages, and a more scientific introduction is suggested.

Glamdring 17:17, 7 February 2007 (UTC)Glammy

We have not only English vs non-English but English vs Australian English vs non-English. Grouping languages in a more consistant way makes good sense to me. Let's do it. Jimp 01:45, 19 February 2007 (UTC)


Sort of off-topic, but does anybody know the dimunutive suffix, if there is one, in Sanskrit? I'm thinking it's -ka, but I can't find anything conclusive. Specifically, is -ya(h) one? I'd appreciate if anyone could find this out--and add it to the article! —Feerique 22:34, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Latin diminutives[edit]

Perhaps -idium should be included on the list? It's derived from the Greek -ιδιο, but appears a lot (for one thing) in scientific taxonomy, such as Armadillidium, or "little Armadillo" (pill bug or roly-poly or slater). PubliusFL 16:09, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

On the subject of Latin diminutives borrowed in English, might it be worth mentioning words such as 'molecule', where the -culus suffix has been anglicized? The OED has -cule as a diminutive suffix, but it's not obvious whether it's ever been a productive suffix in English. -- (talk) 17:17, 5 March 2008 (UTC)


I think we need to consistently mention the gender of diminished words, as it varies from langauge to language. German -chen is always neuter; French -ette is always feminine. Latin -ul-, however is inserted after the stem, before the inflected ending, and the gender remains unchanged. samwaltz 20:31, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

Topics from 2008[edit]

Australia section[edit]

I see there's a nice general catch-all discussion of English usage, but a rather more chatty, wordy section of Australian use below. Problem is, the multiple Australian examples are a bit redundant given what comes above. I'm sure in the UK there are many celebrities nicknamed similarly to Becks or Gazza; we do not list them all here. I think the Australia section can be easily cut right down and incorporated into the list above it.

Some thing like "Australian usage sees much use of -o, such as garbo. Multiple examples aren't really needed. Format (talk) 21:53, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

Celtic language diminutives[edit]

Are the Irish diminutives missing fadas? Autarch (talk) 16:59, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Polish diminutives question[edit]

The section on Polish diminutives currently says this:

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.

Are we certain this is correct? Palatalization is a productive (indeed, obligatory) phonological process. If it were to be triggered by the /ke/ sequence, it would entail that Polish has no [ke] clusters, which is not the case. Is 'palatalization' intended here as a description of some diachronic process rather than a synchronic rule? If so, that should be made clear.

MJM74 (talk) 03:01, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

To my understanding (I am not a linguist) this particular item and the explanation is correct. What happens here is a modification of a consonant called assibilation. This happens (in the contemporary language) depending on the context in which the consonant (in the root or suffix) finds itself after inflection. Not sure if it is (or also involves) palatalization, but it looks synchronic to me. It is certainly common in Polish. Some examples from the diminutive field: mak-maczek (poppy), ssak-ssaczek (mammal), oko-oczko (eye), auto-autko-auteczko (car, dear car, even dearer car), noga-nóżka (leg), stopa-stopka-stopeczka-stópcia (foot). Examples from non-diminutive inflection: mogę-możesz (I can-you can), ręka-ręce (a hand-hands). Hope it helps. Cheers. Stan J. Klimas (talk) 23:20, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

Retrofit topic year headers/subpages[edit]

04-Dec-2008: I have added subheaders above as "Topics from 2004" (etc.) to emphasize the dates of topics in the talk-page. Older topics might still apply, but using the year headers helps to focus on more current issues as well. Afterward, I dated/named unsigned comments and moved 1 entry (topic "Sanskrit") into date order for 2007.
Then I added "Talk-page subpages" beside the TOC. -Wikid77 (talk) 12:40, 4 December 2008 (UTC)

Diminutive versus Diminutive form[edit]

04-Dec-2008: In trying to find source references for the article, I used a source that broadens the term "diminutive" to mean a multi-word name (such as "Tiny Tim" or "Little Dorrit"), so I also added the alternate title "diminutive form" to handle the single-word case. I think the 2 terms ("diminutive" and "diminutive form") can co-exist in the one article, but it is a jumbling of terms, such as "gerund" with "verb phrase". Meanwhile, the remainder of the article still treats "diminutive" as a one-word form. Don't ya hate it when reality vastly expands the scope of an article? If it does become too jumbled, I think it could be years before needing to split "diminutive" and "diminutive form" as 2 separate articles. -Wikid77 (talk) 12:40, 4 December 2008 (UTC)

Topics from 2010[edit]

The Diminuitive in 17th century Dutch Pietism[edit]

[Pietism] made its adherents use lots of diminutives, and this is detectable in modern Dutch, according to Languages and Communities in Early Modern Europe by Peter Burke. Hardly qualifies for the main article though, eh? JoshNarins (talk) 23:18, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

Russian: diminutive in public media - read this![edit]

In Russian, there is a difference with the diminutive compared to other languages, and that is less about linguistic specialities than usage. Ever read a Russian newspaper text? If an Anastasia or a Katya is, say, a well-known singer, you will even find the diminutive "Nastya" or "Katyusha" in an OFFICIAL text!! Yes, even in an intellectually sophisticated magazine or newspaper. Nobody would ever dare do that in an English or a French newspaper, but always use the "basic" name! But in Russian, it's common. -andy (talk) 17:23, 28 June 2010 (UTC)

In English it is natural to use the "unofficial", diminutive name even in the official reports: Bill Clinton actually should sound like William Clinton, Bob Marley should be Robert Marley, Tony Blair should be Anthony Blair. Have you ever heard of Anthony Blair or William Clinton? No. In Russia it is impossible, that some newspaper, even yellow press, calls the president Dimka or Dima Medvedev instead of Dmitry Medvedev. Diminutive form of address to a person is used in Russian only amongst good friends. Schütze (talk) 10:18, 25 September 2010 (UTC)

Double dimunitive[edit]

I was looking for what "Double dimunitive" means. There is an redirect, which sends you to this page, but there is no section or explanation on what one is, making the redirect rather unhelpful.

I could hazard a guess and make the section myself, but it would be much better if someone expert in linguistics could perhaps contribute a small section. Thanks. (talk) 08:48, 17 June 2011 (UTC)

Double diminutive means two diminutive suffixes, like -ock-ie in the Scots section. I've added a sentence on that, though it could use a good everyday example, which I can't think of. — Eru·tuon 15:11, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. "Kittenish"? (talk) 13:17, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

Double diminutives are also possible in German. As an example: You can add up to 3 diminutive suffixes to the word "Schatz" (darling), the 3 diminutives would be -i -lein -chen, so you'll get the word "Schatzileinchen", it works also with names like Thomas for example, the diminutive is "tommi" and you can easily make it "Tommileinchen" by adding two more suffixes (-lein -chen). Please note, Germans also use the suffix -i as a diminutive! -- (talk) 14:51, 19 April 2012 (UTC)

Diminutives in Romanian[edit]

I'm going to change the first suffix for the feminine nouns as it's not correct. It should be "ea" instead of "ia". I'm going also to change the example to ramură (tree branch) / rămurea, as jucărea is hardly used in Romanian. (talk) 19:56, 28 June 2011 (UTC)Apass


Shouldn't that be on the list, too, as well as star/starlet? -- megA (talk) 10:07, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

Indian Language Diminutives[edit]

The Indian language diminutives seem to off topic and not what anyone is looking for. I myself do not know the answers but I do not believe that diminutives of names are at all appropriate in context with the rest of the page. --SumilBhatt (talk) 22:15, 7 October 2012 (UTC)


There was a misspelling of the word "diminutive" as "dimunitive" in the last sentence of section 1.1.3 entitled "Dutch". I fixed it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:18, 3 October 2013 (UTC)

Topics from 2013[edit]

As Gendered Designations[edit]

It appears to me that this section was hastily added and in need of some formatting; in fact, it appears to have been lifted straight from another source and subsequently inserted here in the (justified) hopes of calling attention to the lack of mention of the topic. I'm not overly familiar with Wikipedia's formatting guidelines, but as an outside reader I found such an addition a little jarring. Also, while I do think there needs to be mention of diminutives and gender, some of the language in this piece appears to be loaded. For instance, I take issue with the statement, "Diminutive terminology like -ess and -ette is used to define women or the feminine as lesser than the norm (male) or less significant in general," because I think there's a case to be made that the "-ess" suffix is a means of distinguishing the gender of the agent noun and in conjunction with the parallel male construction "-er" or "-or" (i.e. "waiter/waitress", "actor/actress") in the same vain as gender distinction in other languages (French "acteur/actrice") rather than as a diminutive. The use of "-ette", I think, does have a diminutive sense, being a loan suffix from French and a parallel to the masculine "-et", which occasionally has use in English (i.e. "baronet"). Especially for "-ette", I think there's a case for a link between the diminutive form and the agent's gender ("major/majorette" as opposed to, as one might expect, "majoret/majorette") and this section on gendered diminutives is certainly necessary, especially since there have been motions to standardize or else do away with gender distinctions entirely that deserve mention. It just needs to be revised a little. Anyway, thought I'd bring this up here and start discussion. -Walker 05:15, 04 December 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)