-kin

-kin
suffix forming diminutive nouns (catkin; manikin).
Etymology: from or after MDu. -kijn, -ken, OHG -chin

* * *

suffix forming diminutive nouns such as bumpkin, catkin
Origin:
from Middle Dutch -kijn, -ken, Middle Low German -kīn

* * *

-kin, suffix
(kɪn)
forming diminutives, corresp. to MDu. -kijn, -ken, MLG. -kîn = OHG. -chîn, MHG. -chîn, -chein, -chin, -chen (G. -chen), as in MDu. kindekijn, -ken, MLG. kindekîn, MHG. kindichîn, G. kindchen little child; MDu. husekijn, huusken, MHG. häusichin, G. häuschen a little house. No trace of the suffix is found in OE.
The suffix has only a limited use in English. It appears to occur first in some familiar forms of personal (chiefly male) names, which were either adoptions or imitations of diminutive forms current in Flanders and Holland, where such forms appear already in the 10th c. The earliest ME. examples noted are Janekin, Malekin, Watekin, and Wilekin, found as early as 1250 (O.E. Misc. 188–191), and evidently then in familiar use. These and others of the kind were no doubt common in 13–14th c. (for Jankin and its variants see Nicholson Pedigree ofJack’), but are not prominent in literature till the second half of the 14th. The A-text of ‘Piers Plowman’ has Malkin and Perkin, the B-text adds Haukyn, and the C-text Watkyn; Chaucer uses Jankin, Malkin, Perkin, Simkin, and Wilkin; and in the ‘Tournament of Tottenham’ there occur Dawkyn, Hawkyn, Jeynkyn, Perkyn, and Tymkyn. The ‘Earliest English Wills’ have Idkyne (1397), Jankyn (1417–22) and Watkyn (1433). As Christian names these seem to have mostly gone out of fashion shortly after 1400, though instances occur later (e.g. Wilkin in Lyndesay's ‘Satyre’, 2180); most of them have, however, survived as surnames, usually with the addition of -s or -son, as Jenkins, Watkins, Wilkinson, Dickens, Dickinson, etc.
Instances of the suffix being added to common nouns in the 14th c. are rare; but Langland has baudekin, fauntekin, and feudekin, perhaps on the analogy of the personal names. Other words in -kin from the same or immediately succeeding period are either adopted from Du. or are of obscure origin; and it is doubtful whether the ending was in every case felt as a diminutive: such are barmkin, bodkin, dodkin, firkin, kilderkin, napkin. Considerable obscurity attaches to many later words (16–17th c.) of the same type, as jerkin, bumpkin, pipkin, gaskin, griskin, bumkin, gherkin, ciderkin, etc.: in some of these the ending may be of different origin, or due to assimilation, as in pumpkin, tamkin for earlier pumpion, tampion. Apparently from Du. are the 16–17th c. words minikin, cannikin, catkin, and mannikin. Outside of these, and some forms used in oaths, as lakin (? for ladykin), bodykin, pittikin, the suffix is comparatively rare; the only example which has obtained real currency is lambkin (1579), though a few others are occasionally employed, as boykin (1547), devilkin, godkin, ladykin, and nonce-words such as glenikin, headikin, handikin (after mannikin). Bootikin (18th c.) is not clearly a diminutive in origin, and in Sc. cutikin, thumbikin (cf. also greenkin) the force of the suffix is different.

Useful english dictionary. 2012.

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