A diminutive is a formation of a word used to convey a slight degree of the root meaning, smallness of the object named, intimacy, or endearment. In some languages diminutives are formed in a regular way by adding affixes to nouns and proper names, in English the alteration of meaning is often but not essentially conveyed through smaller size. English diminutives tend to be shorter and more colloquial than the basic form of the word, diminutives formed by adding affixes in other languages are often longer and not necessarily colloquial. Diminutives are often used for affection.
Diminutives are common in most national forms of English. Terms such as "undies" for underwear, and "movies" (short for "moving pictures") are frequently heard terms in English.
Australian English is known for its use of diminutives with the "-za" suffix applied to the shortened version of a person's name. Thus "Barry" becomes "Bazza" and "Gary" becomes "Gazza" though this is not routinely done with all names; a possible diminutive for "Larry" (which would be "Lazza" under this system) is very rare. There has also been a trend towards changing "Jarrod" or "Jared" to "Jazza". Female names are also shortened, such as "Sharon" becoming "Shazza". This use of diminutives is also found in British English.
Other suffixes are also used, such as "-ey/-ie/-y" and "-o", thereby creating names such as Petey (formerly Peter), Dougie (Douglas), Johnny or Jono (Jonathan), and Robbie or Robbo (Robert). In Britain the title of popular soap opera Coronation Street is frequently shortened to "Corrie" or "Corro" by its fans.
Sometimes a diminutive lengthens the original word as seen in the ubiquitous American term "hottie" to denote sexually appealing (or "hot") young man or woman.
Diminutives aside from Proper Nouns
Many other words are replaced with diminutives in Australian English. Emergency-services personnel are often referred to as ambos and firies instead of "ambulance officers" and "firefighters". Similarly, medical professionals are frequently known as medicos. Social institutions, such as the Salvation Army, are also subject to this process - becoming (in this case) the Salvos. Garbage collectors are almost universally known as garbos, by a similar process.