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A hypocorism (/hˈpɒkərɪzəm/ hy-POK-ər-iz-əm or /ˌhpəˈkɒrɪzəm/ HY-pə-KORR-iz-əm; from Ancient Greek: ὑποκόρισμα (hypokorisma), sometimes also hypocoristic), or pet name is a name used to show affection for a person.[1][2] It may be a diminutive form of a person's name, such as Izzy for Isabel or Bob for Robert, or it may be unrelated, such as best friends calling each other by an affectionate name unrelated to given names like "twin star", a husband and wife calling each other "baby", or when a pet named "Tabitha" is called something unrelated to its root name such as "brownie" or "baba", or related to baby talk pronunciations for longer words like Grandma becoming "gams".

Etymologically, the term hypocorism is from Ancient Greek ὑποκόρισμα (hypokorisma), from ὑποκορίζεσθαι (hypokorizesthai), meaning 'to call by endearing names'. The prefix hypo refers in this case to creating a diminutive, something that is smaller in a tender or affectionate sense; the root korizesthai originates in the Greek for 'to caress' or 'to treat with tokens of affection', and is related to the Greek word κόρος (kóros) 'boy; youth' and κόρη (kórē), 'girl; young woman'.

In linguistics, the term can be used more specifically to refer to the morphological process by which the standard form of the word is transformed into a form denoting affection, or to words resulting from this process. In English, a word is often clipped down to a closed monosyllable and then suffixed with -y/-ie (phonologically /-i/).[3] Sometimes the suffix -o is included as well as other forms[4][5][6] or templates.[7]

Hypocoristics are often affective in meaning and are particularly common in Australian English, but can be used for various purposes in different semantic fields, including personal names, place names, and nouns.[4] Hypocorisms are usually considered distinct from diminutives, but they can also overlap.[6][4]

See also


  1. ^ "hypocorism". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  2. ^ "pet name". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2022-12-20.
  3. ^ McGregor, William B. (2015). Linguistics: An Introduction (2. ed.). London: Bloomsbury. p. 86. ISBN 9780567483393.
  4. ^ a b c Bromhead, Helen (9 March 2021). "Gatho, lippy, rego — why Australians love hypocoristics". Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  5. ^ Simpson, Jane (2008). "Hypocoristics in Australian English". The Pacific and Australasia. Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 398–414. doi:10.1515/9783110208412.2.398. ISBN 978-3-11-019637-5.
  6. ^ a b Lipski, John M. (1995). "Spanish hypocoristics: towards a unified prosodic analysis" (PDF). Hispanic Linguistics. Vol. 6. pp. 387–434. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2022-07-07. Retrieved 2022-07-07.
  7. ^ Davis, Stuart; Zawaydeh, Bushra Adnan (2001). "Arabic Hypocoristics and the Status of the Consonantal Root". Linguistic Inquiry. 32 (3). The MIT Press: 512–520. doi:10.1162/002438901750372540. ISSN 0024-3892. JSTOR 4179159. S2CID 18921857. Retrieved 7 July 2022.

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