Pet names

Other Names:
Abusive nicknames

A hypocorism ( hy-POK-ər-iz-əm or hy-pə-KOR-iz-əm; from Ancient Greek: ὑποκόρισμα (hypokorisma), from ὑποκορίζεσθαι (hypokorizesthai), 'to call by pet names') or pet name is a name used to show affection for a person or object. It can be a diminutive form of a person's name, such as Izzy for Isobel or Bob for Robert, or it can be unrelated.

"Hypocorism" was once briefly a buzzword among philologists who used it rather broadly to mean "adult baby talk," that is, the altered speech adults use when supposedly imitating babies. But what the Greeks likely had in mind with their word "hypokorisma" was simply pet names: diminutives like our "Johnny" for "John," endearing terms such as "honey-bunch," or names from baby talk, like "Nana" for "Grandma." "Hypokorisma" comes from the verb "hypokorizesthai" ("to call by pet names"), which itself comes from "korizesthai" ("to treat with tokens of affection"). English speakers borrowed the noun as "hypocorism" (by way of Late Latin "hypocorisma") in the late 19th century. Once the baby talk issue faded, "hypocorism" settled back into being just a fancy word for pet name.
Broader Problems:
Teenage language jargon
Problem Type:
G: Very specific problems
Date of last update
06.07.2002 – 00:00 CEST