I recently had to look for various diminutives from latin words, however I got stuck when I had to find the diminutive for "Insula". After many researches on the Internet I came across some ideas such as "Insulitta" (but I think the "-ittus, -itta" suffix is only used for proper nouns) or "Insulla/Insella". But I can't find any informations about the diminutive of insula, so I'm not sure it is the right way to write it...

2 Answers 2


Cassell's Latin Dictionary translates the English word "islet" to Latin as parva insula.

The Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources (DMLBS) contains the word insuleta / insuletta, defined as "islet, small island". ( https://logeion.uchicago.edu/insuleta ) But this is not attested until the 13th century (so the late medieval period).

As you mentioned, -ula is a diminutive suffix. Lewis & Short's Latin Dictionary actually contains insulula but dismisses it as simply a "false reading for insula".

  • 1
    Thank you a lot! It solves my problem! :D
    – Superlatyf
    Aug 22, 2020 at 20:57

Not all words have attested diminutive forms. And while there are patterns to forming diminutives, they are only simple for some types of words.

Many Latin nouns ending in -ula were diminutives themselves; but not all (it doesn't seem to be the case for insula). Words ending in -ula sometimes had diminutives where -ula is replaced with -ella, as in fistella from fistula and sitella from situla. There are also diminutives ending in -illa, such as papilla from papula and maxilla from mala.

Diminutives did not commonly end in -ulla. (It looks like there might be a few possible examples.)

So in theory, either insella or insilla look like plausible or reasonable diminutives formed from insula, but I don't know of any evidence that they have ever been used (so I wouldn't recommend using them yourself).

I found a passage from 1843 that claims that "Insilla est diminutivum ab insula, et dicitur parva insula."

(page 153, Fratris Felicis Fabri Evagatorum, in Terrae Sanctae, Arabiae et Egypti Peregrinationem; Edidit Cunradus Dietericus Hassler)

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