Definition of diminutive in English:

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Pronunciation: /dɪˈmɪnjʊtɪv/


1Extremely or unusually small: a diminutive figure dressed in black
More example sentences
  • But while she is no softie and revels in a little rough-and-tumble now and again, her diminutive figure belies the true extent of her football potential.
  • His figure looked sadly diminutive in a gray T-shirt and faded blue jeans.
  • Sarah is a diminutive figure on stage, but when she sings her heavenly voice instantly makes her the centre of attention.
tiny, small, little, petite, minute, miniature, mini, minuscule, microscopic, nanoscopic, small-scale, compact, pocket, toy, midget, undersized, short, stubby, elfin, dwarfish, dwarf, pygmy, bantam, homuncular, Lilliputian;
Scottish  wee
informal teeny, weeny, teeny-weeny, teensy-weensy, itty-bitty, itsy-bitsy, tiddly, dinky, baby, pint-sized, half-pint, sawn-off, knee-high to a grasshopper
British informal titchy, ickle
North American informal little-bitty, vest-pocket
1.1(Of a word, name, or suffix) implying smallness, either actual or imputed to convey affection, scorn, etc. (e.g. teeny, -let, -kins).
Example sentences
  • Ke is a diminutive suffix, conveying the sense of little in reference to the size of the dog.
  • Its features include simplified grammar, exaggerated speech melody, diminutive forms of words such as doggie, and a highly repetitive style.
  • But do not be put off by their diminutive name or even by some of the many examples that have absolutely no interest to you.


1A smaller or shorter thing, in particular:
Example sentences
  • It is the role of giant ruffians like me to fall before doughty diminutives like him, and each of us must play our part in that ancient story.
  • His collection of approximately one hundred and twenty-five antique, renaissance and eighteenth century decorative gems is a perfect example of his delight in the diminutive.
  • Our culture strangely gives value to the large and is dismissive of the diminutive.
1.1A diminutive word or suffix.
Example sentences
  • The word is a diminutive of inland navigator, referring to the men who built the canals that preceded the railways.
  • The name ‘baba’ is the colloquial Ukrainian word for woman or grandma, while ‘babka’ is a diminutive of the same word.
  • It is hardly surprising therefore that the Arabic word for ‘garden’ should be the diminutive of the word for ‘Paradise’.
1.2A shortened form of a name, typically used informally: ‘Nick’ is a diminutive of ‘Nicholas’
More example sentences
  • In 1928 he proclaimed himself King of Albania, taking the name Zog, a diminutive of his family's surname.
  • Children sometimes are called by diminutives of their names.
  • The rabbis rounded his name, added the diminutive.
1.3 Heraldry A charge of the same form as an ordinary but of lesser size or width.



Example sentences
  • The diminutively handsome valley boy is definitely the band's strength - writing all the lyrics and music, except for the collaboration with his producer - but is he their weakest link too?
  • She is clearly out of her depth when it comes to African history - she mistakenly equates the Wolof language with Mande and refers to the local scene diminutively as ‘folk culture.’
  • Two powerful beings constantly bashing their physical selves against the wall; before long, a large crack could be seen and faint glow of light peeked in diminutively.


Pronunciation: /dɪˈmɪnjʊtɪvnəs/
Example sentences
  • It's perhaps her suppleness and quick movements which give the impression of diminutiveness and which allow her to walk as though she's on little springs.
  • Near the base of one of the angled panels is a tiny forest-green rectangle, like a door, and its diminutiveness makes the whole structure feel gigantic.
  • Indeed, the diminutiveness of the standard error worsens, the larger the t that is required.


Late Middle English (as a grammatical term): from Old French diminutif, -ive, from late Latin diminutivus, from Latin deminut- 'diminished', from the verb deminuere (see diminish).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: di¦minu|tive

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