9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[dih-min-yuh-tiv] /dɪˈmɪn yə tɪv/
small; little; tiny:
a diminutive building for a model-train layout.
Grammar. pertaining to or productive of a form denoting smallness, familiarity, affection, or triviality, as the suffix -let, in droplet from drop.
a small thing or person.
Grammar. a diminutive element or formation.
Heraldry. a charge, as an ordinary, smaller in length or breadth than the usual.
Origin of diminutive
1350-1400; Middle English < Medieval Latin dīminūtīvus, equivalent to Latin dīminūt(us) lessened (for dēminūtus; see diminution) + -īvus -ive
Related forms
diminutively, adverb
diminutiveness, noun
1. See little. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for diminutive
  • But what is noticeable about Homo floresiensis is how small the brain is, even in comparison to the diminutive body.
  • Scientific inquiry has focused on the utility of the diminutive arms of tyrannosaurs for nearly a century.
  • This diminutive desk needed just a little paint touch-up and a mirror to become glamour girl-worthy.
  • Now, however, this diminutive building - hardly more than a shed - has been made anew inside and out.
  • But eventually the engineering team worked out the kinks and produced a diminutive, easily portable radio.
  • Haley is a diminutive man with the body fat of a crowbar.
  • That cute diminutive nickname you're thinking about is a cute diminutive nickname, not a real name.
  • I'm a hulking man proclaiming my innocence against a diminutive, defenseless-looking woman.
  • Because some amphipods eat only from the sea ice, these diminutive crustaceans are at risk as temperatures rise.
  • Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
British Dictionary definitions for diminutive


very small; tiny
  1. denoting an affix added to a word to convey the meaning small or unimportant or to express affection, as for example the suffix -ette in French
  2. denoting a word formed by the addition of a diminutive affix
(grammar) a diminutive word or affix
a tiny person or thing
Compare (for senses 2, 3) augmentative
Derived Forms
diminutival (dɪˌmɪnjʊˈtaɪvəl) adjective
diminutively, adverb
diminutiveness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for diminutive

late 14c. (noun and adjective), from Old French diminutif (14c.), from Latin diminutivus, earlier deminutivus, from past participle stem of deminuere (see diminish).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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