Definition of diminutive in English:



  • 1Extremely or unusually small.

    ‘a diminutive figure dressed in black’
    • ‘‘Right to the end she was a little feisty woman,’ Judy says, admitting she was a tad frightened of the diminutive figure.’
    • ‘In any case, whatever the cause of the conflict, it is inevitable that the small dog, simply because of its diminutive stature, takes the brunt of the conflict, be it an attack or a warning growl and pin to the ground.’
    • ‘The mammoth and the sabre-toothed tiger may have long since passed into the palaeontology history books but one of their contemporaries, a diminutive snail, is clinging to existence in Yorkshire.’
    • ‘As they approached, the blast doors opened, revealing a diminutive figure clothed in a heavy, light blue smock.’
    • ‘No wafer thin bangles, and modestly diminutive chains here - the jewellery is unabashedly elaborate, studded with brilliant uncut rubies, diamonds and emeralds.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Sarah is a diminutive figure on stage, but when she sings her heavenly voice instantly makes her the centre of attention.’
    • ‘She was oblivious to the gaunt diminutive figure that stared back at her; just over five feet.’
    • ‘A diminutive figure loiters at the back of the gallery.’
    • ‘She was of diminutive size and delicate health; she was pretty and clever and talented.’
    • ‘Reluctant to allow myself to be intimidated by a diminutive Frenchman who makes slightly effete music, I want to do the same back, but have just spotted that his trousers are half-undone.’
    • ‘A diminutive figure in black, she nodded and smiled gently at the crowd.’
    • ‘In front of the two male imperial figures a diminutive courtier or herald holds open the scroll, presumably reading aloud the announcement of the betrothal.’
    • ‘The diminutive mother sat protectively on a neighboring branch but did not interfere allowing the woman to produce one of the most charming sequences of wildlife photos I've ever seen.’
    • ‘The diminutive star - who launched her latest world tour in Scotland last month is set to take over the presidential suite at the five-star establishment for seven days as she performs at nearby Earls Court stadium..’
    • ‘But even these diminutive numbers tend to belie the extremely small spaces into which a ferret can fit.’
    • ‘The unpredictable and random threat of such a devastating machine is at polar extremes from its diminutive replica, which offers an intimate view of a closed and isolated community of sailors.’
    • ‘His figure looked sadly diminutive in a gray T-shirt and faded blue jeans.’
    • ‘Chinese elm has been a popular tree for small gardens because of its diminutive proportions and pleasant rounded canopy, but again, seeding can be a problem.’
    • ‘Bass from the subwoofer is powerful enough to put the boom into explosive cinematic action, while CDs or MP3s played through the diminutive unit sound clear and subtle - a neat trick for a player at this price.’
    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
    teeny, weeny, teeny-weeny, teensy-weensy, itty-bitty, itsy-bitsy, tiddly, dinky, baby, pint-sized, half-pint, sawn-off, knee-high to a grasshopper
    titchy, ickle
    little-bitty, vest-pocket
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1(of a word, name, or suffix) implying smallness, either actual or imputed to convey affection, scorn, etc. (e.g. teeny, -let, -kins).
      • ‘As a child in Hungary, Janos was called by the diminutive form of his name, Jancsi.’
      • ‘On the other hand, the diminutive title slightly misleads.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Here, he seems to agree with him on the correct spelling of diminutive forms.’
      • ‘Its features include simplified grammar, exaggerated speech melody, diminutive forms of words such as doggie, and a highly repetitive style.’
      • ‘The word alone, derived from a diminutive form of the Dutch name for cucumber, is enough to endear this crunchy pickle to anyone.’
      • ‘I've often revelled in these diminutive descriptors, because there's none other like me.’
      • ‘His insistent sexual attentions and diminutive pet names become less and less appropriate to the role she is now playing, and her self-image finally comes apart from the one her husband wants to impose on her.’
      • ‘Local election boards wrongly threw out virtually every signature that had been printed rather than written in cursive, as well as those with an initial or diminutive form of the first name.’
      • ‘Ke is a diminutive suffix, conveying the sense of little in reference to the size of the dog.’
      • ‘All these years, he has kept the diminutive name that his friends in the struggle gave him: Kecik, meaning small in the East Javanese dialect.’
      • ‘Maybe it's the diminutive use of his name, but Jonny A seems like some kind of a greaser in a leather jacket.’
      • ‘Had he been in any other situation, the prince would have said something to counter the diminutive titles that the man had given him and his father.’
      • ‘Apparently the name Merkin comes from a diminutive form of Matilda.’


  • 1A smaller or shorter thing, in particular.

    • ‘Our culture strangely gives value to the large and is dismissive of the diminutive.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1A diminutive word or suffix.
      • ‘The Latin term Regulus was first applied by Copernicus as a diminutive of its earlier form Rex, meaning King.’
      • ‘The use of diminutives and nicknames were quite apparent in her teachertalk as well.’
      • ‘Such diminutives, in varied forms, are very commonly found in Indian languages.’
      • ‘Other ‘weight’ currencies are the peso (from Latin pensum ‘weight’) and its diminutive, the peseta.’
      • ‘Lithuanian often makes use of diminutives to soften the connotation of words or make them more personal.’
      • ‘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’.’
      • ‘I'm only familiar with the Italian diminutives ino, etto, ello, and iano.’
      • ‘New parents rattle off diminutives and acronyms as if reciting scales.’
      • ‘The word is a diminutive of inland navigator, referring to the men who built the canals that preceded the railways.’
      • ‘The diminutives did not change the meaning but rather the function.’
      • ‘They speak to each other in Tagalog, using exotic diminutives.’
      • ‘One such problem area is the use of diminutives.’
      • ‘The word curriculum is derived from the Latin word for ‘race course’; the diminutive, currus, means chariot.’
      • ‘The earliest were over 20 cm in height, and the Italian diminutive refers to the reduced measurement of 14 cm, introduced when the first public opera houses opened in Venice.’
      • ‘Of course, traditionally, as young unmarried women, they would have been called Fräulein, where the ending - lein is diminutive.’
      shortened form, short form, contraction, elision, acronym, initialism, symbol, diminutive
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2A shortened form of a name, typically used informally.
      ‘‘Nick’ is a diminutive of ‘Nicholas’’
      • ‘I believe that Liz, simply as the diminutive of the name Elizabeth, has been suggested as the most likely source of the rock's name.’
      • ‘I'm male and go by the Russian diminutive of my legal name, Sasha.’
      • ‘Most older Argentineans still use the diminutives Juanito for him and Evita for her.’
      • ‘He has shreds of European heritage from his Polish great-grandfather for whom he is named: Stasiu - a diminutive of Stanislaus.’
      • ‘I dislike these nicknames because they're diminutive.’
      • ‘The rabbis rounded his name, added the diminutive.’
      • ‘In 1928 he proclaimed himself King of Albania, taking the name Zog, a diminutive of his family's surname.’
      • ‘The bones were found at Tio Gregorio - and the Spanish diminutive for Gregorio is Goya.’
      • ‘But then, in the happiest moment at Bighorn, he actually referred to himself in the diminutive.’
      • ‘You look it up in your book of babies' names: Sasha is a Russian diminutive of Alexandra.’
      • ‘Brazilians are much more affectionate to their attacking players, so of course they will address them more affectionately - with nicknames and diminutives.’
      • ‘Children sometimes are called by diminutives of their names.’
      • ‘Relationships between same-sex friends and family members are characterized by a high degree of intimacy, body contact and the use of affectionate diminutives.’
      • ‘The name is derived from the diminutive of Vouge, a small stream flowing through the village.’
      • ‘It is the diminutive of the name given me by your great-great-grandmother.’
    3. 1.3Heraldry A charge of the same form as an ordinary but of lesser size or width.


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).