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Allen and Greenough/ New Latin Grammar

Nominal Adjectives

243. Diminutive Adjectives are usually confined to one gender, that of the primitive, and are used as Diminutive Nouns.

They are formed by means of the suffixes—

-ulus (-a , -um), -olus (after a vowel), -culus , -ellus , -illus

rīv-ulus, a streamlet;rīvus, a brook.
gladi-olus, a small sword;gladius, a sword.
fīli-olus, a little son;fīlius, a son.
fīli-ola, a little daughter;fīlia, a daughter.
ātri-olum, a little hall;ātrium, a hall.
homun-culus, a dwarf;homō, a man.
auri-cula, a little ear;auris, an ear.
mūnus-culum, a little gift;mūnus, N., a gift.
cōdic-illī, writing-tablets;cōdex, a block.
mis-ellus, rather wretched;miser, wretched.
lib-ellus, a little book;liber , a book.
aure-olus (-a, -um), golden;aureus (-a, -um), golden.
parv-olus (later parv-ulus), very small;parvus (-a, -um), little.
mâius-culus, somewhat larger;mâior (old mâiōs), greater.

Note 1 These diminutive endings are all formed by adding -lus to various stems. The formation is the same as that of -ulus in § 251. But these words became settled as diminutives, and retained their connection with nouns. So in English the diminutives whitish, reddish, are of the same formation as bookish and snappish, -culus comes from -lus added to adjectives in -cus formed from stems in n- and s- : as, iuven-cus, Aurun-cus (cf. Aurunculêius), prīs-cus, whence the cu becomes a part of the termination, and the whole ending (-culus) is used elsewhere, but mostly with n- and s- stems, in accordance with its origin.

Note 2 Diminutives are often used to express affection, pity, or contempt: as, dēliciolae, little pet; muliercula, a poor (weak) woman; Graeculus, a miserable Greek.

a. -ciō, added to stems in n-, has the same diminutive force, but is used with masculines only: as, homun-ciō, a dwarf (from homō, a man).

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