Diminutive  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A diminutive is a formation of a word used to convey a slight degree of the root meaning, smallness of the object or quality named, encapsulation, intimacy, or endearment. It is the opposite of an augmentative. While many languages apply the grammatical diminutive to nouns, a few also use it for adjectives and even other parts of speech.

Diminutives are often used for affection (see nickname and hypocoristic). In many languages the meaning of diminution can be translated "tiny" or "wee" and diminutives are used frequently when speaking to small children; adult people sometimes use diminutives when they express extreme tenderness and intimacy by behaving and talking like children. (See Apocopation).

In some languages diminutives are formed in a regular way by adding affixes to nouns and proper names; in English the alteration of meaning is often conveyed through clipping, either alone or combined with an affix. English diminutives tend to be shorter and more colloquial than the basic form of the word; diminutives formed by adding affixes in other languages are often longer and not necessarily colloquial.

In many languages formation of diminutives by suffixes is a regular part of grammar. All nouns, not just proper nouns can be diminuted. The word "diminutive" is used in a narrower and less vague sense here than when referring to English. The basic meaning of diminution in these languages is "smallness of the object named"; endearment, intimacy etc. is secondary and dependent on context. For example, the name of one the last Roman emperors of the western part of the Roman Empire - Romulus Augustus - was diminuted to Romulus Augustulus (little Augustus) to emphasise the contrast between the grandness of the name and political insignificance of its bearer; in this case the connotation of diminution is derogatory, not endearing.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Diminutive" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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