"Xenophobia" is being fearful of outsiders, and "xenophilia" would be to love outsiders.

To fit in with these words, I'm looking for a suffix to attach to the "xeno~" prefix to in order to create a word that means to find a person to be adorable or cute because they are foreign.

"Xenophilia" does not fit, because the implication of the "~philia" suffix is too accepting and desirous of the target. To say someone was a xenophile is more or less to say they would love it all the more if they were surrounded by foreigners all the time.

I'm very much looking for something where the object of adoration is simultaneously considered diminutive and not necessarily respected. Like how people might consider a foreign person to be cute because of their accent and behaviour, but still have a sense that they are alien to the host culture. People may laugh along with a foreigner's antics without malice, but still regard that foreigner as necessarily separate.

Does such a suffix that means "cute" in the sense of "diminutive" exist?

  • You should looking for a prefix rather it seems: kind of cutie-ET, not ET-cutie.
    – Kris
    Jun 7, 2014 at 7:14
  • 1
    I can't think of a latin or greek suffix, but -ling can be used to form a word that's likely to make the hearer think of something young, cute, and inferior.
    – Jason M
    Jun 7, 2014 at 7:25
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    @JasonM There are plenty of -ling like suffixes. However, they don't seem to gel with the context.
    – Kris
    Jun 7, 2014 at 7:45

2 Answers 2


There are lots of diminutive suffixes, but none that mean cute, at least in English. They do impart a sense of affection, though.

  • -ie(s) (hottie, sweetie, Petie, cutie, duckie, footsie, elevensies, onesies.
  • -y (daddy, doggy, kitty, mommy)
  • -sy (Flopsy, Mopsy)
  • -ling (duckling, dear-ling)
  • -(d)oodle (honeydoodle, canoodle)
  • -et/-ette/-etti/-etto/-it/-ita/-ito/-itta (mamacita, amaretto, Manolito)
  • -let/-lette (applet, chicklet, piglet)
  • -kin(s) (catkin, lambkin, ?pumpkin, honeykins, Sallykins)

I think you're going to have to create something, and I'm afraid it might be rather silly in English.

Xenodoodle is, well, silly, but certainly connotes a feeling that you think the xeno- is cute.

Xenokins? Xenolette? Xenoling?

  • 1
    Thank you for this response. One thing I notice about all the listed suffixes here is that they describe the target, not the source. I need a word, or part of a word, that describes the source of the feelings. The suggested words built out of the prefix "~xeno" are interesting, but to be honest, they seem confused as to whether they point to sources or targets.
    – Questioner
    Jun 7, 2014 at 8:38
  • @DaveMG - can you give me an idea of what this word would look like? Hyphenating is fine. I don't quite get the distinction. Jun 7, 2014 at 8:40
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    I'm not sure I understand your question, but to clarify further on my comment, I mean that a suffix like "~ie", as in "cutie" describes the person who is thought of as being cute, not the person who thinks it. However, a "xenophile" describes the person who is the source of the feeling, the one who loves outsiders. Thus, similarily, I need a word that is like "xeno-adorer". Hmmm.. actually, now that I say it, "xeno-adorer" feels kind of close.
    – Questioner
    Jun 7, 2014 at 9:03
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    If I understand you correctly, you want a word to designate a person who thinks foreigners are cute? OK, I think I see. No, I can't think of any such word. Sorry. Jun 7, 2014 at 9:20

"Xenophilia" does not fit, because the implication of the "~philia" suffix is too accepting and desirous of the target. To say someone was a xenophile is more or less to say they would love it all the more if they were surrounded by foreigners all the time.

Xenophilia covers a wider range than you suggest here. What you are describing would certainly fall under xenophilia, but not all reasonable uses of xenophilia would match your target meaning.

As such, if I wanted to restrict myself to classical roots, I'd probably use xenophile to describe what you are talking about, but perhaps clarify further if necessary. (Not necessary in "Ever the xenophile, Alice kept describing Bob as 'a cutie' and his accent as 'adorable'" because the rest of the sentence makes it clear the level of attraction I'm describing, but perhaps necessary otherwise).

If I really wanted to express "cuteness" or "finding something cute", I probably wouldn't restrict myself to classical roots.

The language we choose to borrow from in a given case is based on:

  1. The language itself (that is, the range of words and phrases it makes available).
  2. The culture(s) associated with that language.
  3. Our understanding of said culture(s). (That is, an inaccurate view of the culture would have as much, if not more, effect than the actual facts of the matter).

With this in mind, if I want to coin a phrase of "finding foreigners cute", the answer is obvious: Borrow from Japanese.

Gaijin, 外人: Outsider, foreigner. (Pretty much as with the Greek ξένος you were originally using). Moe, 萌え: Slang, a reaction of attraction to "cute" characters, people or things, the target of such an attraction, something which produces a feeling of moe, often used as a suffix. It wouldn't really apply to the person feeling the moe, but phrases using it get shortened further when borrowed into English, so for the purposes here, it would.

Therefore, I'd use gaijinmoe, if I really didn't find xenophile or xenophilia to be specific enough.

Do note that not some things you can find googling for 外人萌え are NSFW.

  • I had the same kind of answer... but I don't know how to make it apply to someone else. Does this transfer the moe to the person doing the moeing? I'm having a hard time even understanding how that can be done in one word. I do like your suggestion, though. Jun 7, 2014 at 15:54
  • @medica while I understand that in Japanese the person doing the moeing would be a (in this example) a gaijin moe otaku or a gaijin moe zoku (c.f. figure moe zoku/figyua moe zoku), as borrowed into English via animé fans, manga fans and other Japanophiles and English-speaking otaku, I've heard moe used for those who moe too: Borrowing mutates, and while some such fans may have a passion for accuracy in these matters, many such words have slightly different meanings when borrowed into English than in the original Japanese. Really, it's only those borrowed meanings that I know...
    – Jon Hanna
    Jun 7, 2014 at 16:14
  • @medica ...much about at all, and not that much (I certainly like manga, but I'm no hardcore otaku by any stretch). In particular many words with several meanings in Japanese have only one very specific meaning in English, that isn't even the most common meaning in Japanese much of the time. So, while I'm pretty sure it would be wrong in Japanese, it would be no less wrong borrowed as that, than many other such terms are.
    – Jon Hanna
    Jun 7, 2014 at 16:16
  • Thanks for the explanation. I think this is a great suggestion. Jun 7, 2014 at 18:41
  • It's an interesting suggestion, but since the suggested Japanese term is a phrase that does not exist in Japanese as any kind of routine expression, why would one look to Japanese as a way to express this concept instead of, say, Arabic, Chinese, or Swahili? Since I can't say "In Japanese they had a word for this...", it seems odd and arbitrary to say "So, I made up a word in Japanese..."
    – Questioner
    Jun 8, 2014 at 3:41

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