Suffissi Alterativi are suffixes in Italian that change partly the meaning of the world, giving a different evaluation to it. Unlike the Derivational morphemes, they don’t change the class of the word. Sometimes the root of the word changes to “accomodate” the suffix There are 5 types of suffixes, which sometimes overlap in the use and meaning.
Accrescitivi = Increasing. The suffix is -one. Sometimes used also as endearments.
- Naso (nose) - Nasone (big nose)
- Cane (dog) - Cagnone or Cagnolone (big dog)
Attenuativi = mitigating. There are several suffixes.
- -iccio (adj) = malato (sick) - malaticcio (sickly)
- -icchiare/ -acchiare/-ucchiare (verb) = cantare (sing) - canticchiare (hum)
- -ettare/-ottare (verb) = parlare (talk) - parlottare (mutter)
(verb) = giocare (play) - giocherellare (fiddle, play around)
Diminutivi = Decreasing, diminishing. Most of them can also be used as endearments. The most used are -etto, -ino, -ello. You can use them also on names, as endearments.
- chiesa (church) - chiesetta (small church)
- paese (country, village) - paesino (village)
- vino (wine) - vinello (light wine)
- Giorgio - Giorgino
You can combine these suffixes, by adding -ino to the others to have a double suffix. E.g. foglio - foglietto - fogliettino
And sometimes you can find the infixes -ic- and -ol- before -ino and -ello.
- posto (place) - posticino (little place, spot)
- topo (mouse) - topolino (little mouse)
Other suffixes are:
- -otto = used often with baby animals Tigre (tiger) - Tigrotto (tiger cub), but can also be derogatory as in Stupidotto (dummy)
- -acchiotto = Orso (bear) - Orsacchiotto (teddy bear) [!Attention, a baby bear is an Orsetto]
- -uccio = can be both endearing as in Caldo (heat) - Calduccio (warmth) or derogatory as in Impiegato (clerk) - Impiegatuccio (poor, boring clerk)
- -uzzo = variant of -uccio, often found in crystallized form in some names like Via (street) - Viuzza (alley), Pietra (stone) - Pietruzza (tiny stone)
- -icchio and -ucolo = rare, used with derogatory meaning like in Avvocaticchio or Professorucolo (“a meaningless, petty lawyer/professor”)
- -icciolo, -(u)olo, -iciattolo = rare. Porto (harbor, dock) - Porticciolo (small dock, marina), Mostro (monster) - Mostriciattolo (little monster)
Peggiorativi or Spregiativi = derogatory. The most common are -accio (also in the form of -azzo) and -astro.
- Donna (woman) - Donnaccia (lit. bad woman, usually a prostitute)
- Ricco (rich) - Riccastro (rich, spoiled man)
- Amore (love) - Amorazzo (bad, short, easy love)
Some words that were born as derogatory now have lost that meaning.
- Figlio (son) - Figliastro (stepson)
- Fratello (brother) - Fratellastro (half-brother)
- Bianco (white) - Biancastro (off-white, white-ish)
In colloquial terms, the suffix -azzo can be used also ironically as an increasing suffix, as in Panino (sandwich) - Paninazzo (big, “bad” sandwich)
Vezzeggiativi = endearments. They’re the same as the Diminutivi. Mostly -ino, -etto and -ello, but also others listed above.