An ELT Glossary : Diminutives

Diminutives are words made up of a free morpheme and a bound morpheme meaning "little" or "small" - for example : 

  • booklet - the free morpheme book plus the bound morpheme -let (also eg droplet, piglet, hamlet)
  • bullock  - the free morpheme bull plus the bound morpheme -ock (also eg hillock)
Diminutives are often used, however, not to indicate actual physical smallness, but endearment or affection. This is typical of the suffix -ie/y which is frequently used with names (Suzy, Maggie, Andy etc) and animals (piggie, horsie, doggie, birdie).