Lilliputian

Grammarist

Lilliputian is an adjective describing something or someone as being similar to the people of the island of Lilliput. Lilliput is a fictional island in Jonathan Swift’s novel Gulliver’s TravelsLilliputians were extremely small compared to Gulliver. So if something is Lilliputian then it is small.

Even though the dictionary lists the term with a capital, it also acknowledges that the term is often not capitalized when it is not directly referencing the people of Lilliput. In the examples we found, it was capitalized, however, it may become more mainstream in years to come to leave the lowercase.

Sometimes Lilliputian is used to describe something as petty or small-minded.

Also, one may see Lilliputian-sized or Lilliputian-like but both are slightly redundant and unnecessary.

Examples

In dark days, the heart cleaves disproportionately to Lilliputian scraps of good news and so it was that as events played out in Paris last week, I kept thinking of the writer Joan Didion, the star of Céline’s latest ad campaign, tiny in black, her porcelain face half obscured by sunglasses as big and as inky as the dinner plates in the kind of restaurants frequented by Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. [The Guardian]

I’m going to read George Will’s weekly column, and as I do, I’ll marvel once again at my Lilliputian English vocabulary. [AJC]

The mainstream version of downsizing has people giving up a bedroom or two or the coveted great room with its arched ceilings, but there are those on the fringe of the movement who have gone straight to a Lilliputian scale, choosing to make homes out of what amount to little more than very chic gypsy caravans. [Summit Daily]