hypocorism: M-W's Word of the Day

Playwright Lanford Wilson immortalized "The 5th of July"
in 1978. Read about him in our Dictionary of American Writers.

The Word of the Day for July 6 is:

hypocorism \hye-PAH-kuh-rih-zum or hye-puh-KOR-ih-zum\
*1 : a pet name
2 : the use of pet names

Example sentence:
Even monsters can have hypocorisms -- for example, we call
the Loch Ness monster "Nessie."

Did you know?
"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. (Pet names can
be diminutives like our "Johnny" for "John," endearing terms
such as "honey-bunch," or, yes, 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.

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.

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