"figurine" means "little figure".

From etymonline:

figurine (n.) [Look up figurine at Dictionary.com] 1854, from French figurine (16c.), from Italian figurina, diminutive of figura, from Latin figura (see figure (n.)).

So what is the postfix that makes "figurine" diminutive of "figure"? Are there other examples with the same 'diminutive' postfix as "figurine"?

  • 3
    From the Wikipedia article on Diminutive: "In Old French, -et/-ette, -in/-ine, -el/-elle were often used, as Adeline for Adele, Maillet for Maill, and so on."
    – jlawler
    Oct 17, 2013 at 21:29
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    By the way, it's "suffix", not "postfix".
    – jlawler
    Oct 17, 2013 at 21:47
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    @RegDwigt: Still, the suffix is highly relevant for English words. I vote to reopen. Everything about the history of English was once technically part of another language.
    – Cerberus
    Oct 17, 2013 at 21:48
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    Why is this question on hold? I am no expert, but its answer seems obvious (-ine), and those more knowledgeable than I could go on to suggest words that use the same, or say that no other exists...
    – D. M. Davidson
    Oct 18, 2013 at 1:30
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    @D.M.Davidson your obvious answer is wrong, though — as demonstrated by OP's very own research. In the English word figurine, there is no suffix -ine. There is no suffix at all. It was not produced in English from the English word figure and the English suffix -ine. It was borrowed as a whole. As a single unit. Just like in the English word sputnik, there is no suffix -nik or prefix s-. The whole word is the root. When we borrowed the word, we didn't borrow the entire Russian morphology with it.
    – RegDwight
    Oct 18, 2013 at 8:54

1 Answer 1


As pointed out in the etymology you give, "figurine" is ultimately a borrowing from Italian, through French. Therefore, it is in Italian that you'll find the diminutive suffix -in- meaning "little", as shown in the following derivations :

gatto - gattino (male cat - kitten) viola - violino (viola - violin) concerto - concertino

I highly doubt that this suffix is productive in English, but as you can see in the second and third examples, there are other examples of this suffix in borrowings from Italian.


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