In English, we have multiple ways of shortening a long word. In this lesson, we're going to learn two of them that won't change a word's meaning. Let's start.

Clipping and Hypocorism in The English Grammar

What Is Clipping?

Clipping or shortening, is another word formation process in which we can shorten a long word and make a synonym. Clipping will not change the meaning of a word and it is mainly used in informal speech.

Clipping: Types

There are four types of clipping, depending on which part of the word is reduced. Take a look at the following:

  • Final clipping (the most common form): When the final part of a word or phrase is reduced. In this type, the first part remains unchanged.

vegetarian: veg

cabriolet: cab

photograph: photo

biology: bio

discotheque: disco

  • Initial clipping (fore-clipping): It involves reduction of the initial part of the word. In this type, the final part remains unchanged.

motorbike: bike

hamburger: burger

caravan: van

telephone: phone

omnibus: bus

  • Medial clipping: this type involves clipping both the first and the final part of a word or phrase. In this type, the middle part of the word is kept.

refrigerator: \fridge\

refrigerator: fridge

Here, 'refrigerator' is a loan word from Latin and ' fridge' was then derived from it by English speakers. At first it was spelt 'frig' but over time, regular spelling rules were applied to it and it became 'fridge'.

influenza: flu

prescription: script

  • Complex clipping: It occurs when a compound word is shortened by keeping and merging its initial parts. Most of the time one part of the original compound remains intact and sometimes both parts of a compound are clipped.

permanent wave: perm

As you can see, only the first part of the compound word remains and the rest is clipped.

public house: pub

Here, only the initial of the first part remains.

navigation certificate: navicert

Here, final parts of both words were clipped and then blended together.

grandmother: granma

As you can see, It is both clipping and blending.


English speakers tend to clip each other’s names. For example, instead of saying 'Alexander', they would say 'Alex' or just 'Al'. There are many more examples such as 'Jen' for 'Jennifer' or 'Dan' for 'Daniel'.

Clippings as Slangs or Jargons

Some linguists believe that clippings originated as slang or jargon among students and teachers in schools, officers and soldiers in the army, or doctors and nurses in the medical profession. Let’s take a look at some examples of clippings in these contexts:

professor: prof

chemistry: chem

physical education: phys-ed

political science: poly-sci

Gymnasium: gym


Do not forget that clipping is different from abbreviation. Clipping involves shortening a word by removing syllables, while abbreviation involves shortening a word or phrase by using its initial letters or syllables. In addition, abbreviations can end in a full stop such 'Jan.' for 'January'. However, in clipping, we are not allowed to end words with a full stop.

What is Hypocorism?

Hypocorism is a way of shortening a long word to just one syllable by adding –ie- or –y to its ending. This word formation process is mainly used in British and Australian English.

Why We Use Hypocorism?

The term 'hypocorism' comes from the Greek word meaning 'to use child-talk'. So, it is a way of showing affection and closeness to someone or something. In brief, hypocorisms could be used as pet name or nickname. Hypocorism is also commonly used in informal speech, especially among British and Australian speakers in everyday life.

Common Examples of Hypocorism

Here are some good examples of hypocorism:

William: Billy or Willy

In this example, it is used as a nickname.

chocolate: chockie

As you can see, 'chokie' is used by Australians in informal speech.

dog: doggie

Here, 'doggie' shows affection to 'dog'.

toasted sandwich: toastie

Here, 'toastie' is being used in informal speech.

grandmother: granny

Here, it shows someone's love for their 'grandmother'.


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