It seems dictionaries rarely offer definitions for adjectives that have the suffix -енький. There are a few (for instance: маленький; хорошенький), but by Googling many more show up (for instance: старенький; толстенький; весёленький). What nuance or change in meaning does -енький add to basic adjectives?


-еньк-/-оньк- is an affectionate and/or diminutive suffix, similar to English "-y/-ie": "cute / cutie, sweet / sweetie" etc.

It can be used with nouns, adjectives, adverbs and (in baby talk) even verbs: спать / спатеньки.

This suffix can sometimes change the style of even the meaning of the words it's used with: for instance, the mentioned маленький is currently the neutral word for "small, little" (малый being an archaic word, mostly used in its short predicative form мал nowadays); and хорошенький means "cute, handsome" (mere хороший does not have this meaning). That's why they are mentioned separately in the dictionary.

However, mostly the words with that suffix are just the affectionate varieties of their corresponding neutral counterparts.

  • To what kind of nouns could these suffixes be attached? I can't make up any nouns with it.
    – Vitaly
    Jan 17 '16 at 9:47
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    @vitaly: ноженька, папенька
    – Quassnoi
    Jan 17 '16 at 9:56
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    Yes and also names: Машенька, Наденька, Сашенька etc.
    – Vitaly
    Jan 17 '16 at 11:01
  • It is unclear to me what a possible translation of a diminutive adverb would be. Consider this sentence, for example: Принеси́ мне э́ту крýжечку, бы́стренько!. Would you only ever use this kind of diminutive adverb when speaking to a small child? Jan 19 '16 at 1:35
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    @студент001: for adverbs it would mean jocular, not so serious tone. Your sentence would mean something like "bring me that cup, lickety-split!"
    – Quassnoi
    Jan 19 '16 at 4:38

It is a diminutive ending. It is often used when talking to little children.

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