Augmentative and Diminutive Suffixes  

Basic Spanish Concepts Augmentative Terminations

The peculiarity of Augmentative and Diminutive terminations (with the exception of the Augment. on, which denotes only increase) is that besides the idea of increase or diminution a further disparaging or endearing meaning is implied although not distinctly defined. These terminations in many cases substitute the use of adjectives to great advantage, and are largely used by Spaniards, especially the diminutives which, for this reason, should be carefully noticed.

Bestiecita - little beast
Bestiezuela - little beast
Chiquito - little child
Chiquitín - little child
Florecita - little flower
Florecilla - little flower
Hombrón - big, tall man
Hombrote - big, tall man
Hombracho - big, tall man
Hombrachón - big, tall man
Hombrazo - big, tall man
Hombronazo - big, tall man
Juanito - little John
Labradorcito - little labourer
Lagarto: Lagartija - little lizard
Lío: Liecito - little bundle
Librón - large, big book
Librazo - large, big book
Libracho - large, big book
Librote - large, big book
Llavín - little key, latchkey
Manuel: Manolo - little Manuel
Manuel: Manolito - little Manuel
Madrecita - little mother
Madrecica - little mother
Pajarraco (big bird) - disparaging
Papelón - large paper
Plazoleta - little square
Reinecita - little queen
Tamborcito - little drum
Tamborcico - little drum

A diminutive noun can also be further qualified by an adjective, as:

  • Mi padre me regaló este gracioso librito
    My father made me a present of this pretty little book.

Diminutives can be made of Augmentatives and vice-versa:

  • Escoba (broom), Escobilla, Escobillón
  • Sala (drawing-room), Salón, Saloncillo

If a masculine noun ends in a its diminutive also ends in a:

Un drama - drama Un dramita
Un poema - poem Un poemita

But not nouns that indicate male persons:

Papá - Papa Papaíto -

Although ón and ote are generally augmentative terminations, in the following words and a few more, they are used as diminutives:

Calle - street Callejón - narrow street, alley
Carro - cart Carretón - little cart
Isla - island Islote - little barren island
Torre - tower Torrejón - turret

Besides Augmentative and Diminutive terminations, there are some terminations which, without indicating increase or decrease, are used to indicate disparagement pure and simple:

Calducho - bad broth
Gentualla - mob
Gentuza - insignificant people
Libraco - nasty book
Madrastra - step-mother
Medicastro - bad doctor
Mujeruca - old wife, gossip
Poetastro - bad poet

The Augmentative and Diminutive terminations (especially the latter) are found added to adjectives and, although more rarely, to other parts of speech also. They must be learnt by practice, however, as they cannot be used indiscriminately.

  • El picarillo (picaruelo) quiere el otro cuello que es más blanquito.
    The little rogue wants the other collar which is nice and clean (lit., whiter).
  • Como me gusta la blanca nieve acabadita de caer.
    How pretty is the snow just newly fallen.
  • Mira á aquella chica tan bien vestidita de azul.
    Look at that little girl so prettily dressed in blue.
  • Vino callandito.
    He came in as quietly as a mouse.
  • Vive cerquita de nuestra casa.
    He lives quite close to our house.
  • Poquito á poco hila la vieja el copo (proverb).
    Little by little the old woman spins her distaff (Slow and sure wins the race).

Translation of the English "ish" after colours:

Amarillento - yellowish
Azulado - bluish
Azulino - bluish
Blanquecino - whitish
Morenito - brownish
Que tira á moreno - brownish
Negruzco - blackish
Pardusco - greyish
Que tira á pardo ó gris - greyishbr
Rojizo - reddish
Verdoso - greenish
Verdusco - greenish

Notice also:

Anaranjado - orange-coloured
Avellanado - nut-coloured, tawny
Celeste - sky-blue
Dorado - golden
Pajizo - straw-coloured
Perlino - pearl-coloured
Plateado - silvery
Rosado - rose-coloured, pink, rosy
Terreo - ashen-pale
Trigueño - brown, wheat-coloured

[Footnote 213: The terminations ón and ito or ico may be taken by practically all nouns (avoiding cacophony, as: Pantalonón, habitacionóna, etc.); the others may not and consequently should not be used by students, until learnt by practice.]
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