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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

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.

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.

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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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • J. B. Greenough, Benjamin L. D'Ooge, M. Grant Daniell, Commentary on Caesar's Gallic War, AG BG 2.30
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