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?

3 Answers 3


-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 aforementioned маленький is, in the modern language, 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" (plain хороший doesn't have this meaning). That's why they're cited separately in the dictionary.

However, for the most part, words with that suffix are just the affectionate form 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, 2016 at 9:47
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    @vitaly: ноженька, папенька
    – Quassnoi
    Jan 17, 2016 at 9:56
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    Yes and also names: Машенька, Наденька, Сашенька etc.
    – Vitaly
    Jan 17, 2016 at 11:01
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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, 2016 at 4:38
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    "малый" is not archaic, but it's only used in the meaning "lesser"
    – alamar
    May 30, 2022 at 8:20

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


It’s a diminutive ending. We use it when talking to little children, close friends, etc. someone young or familiar who we have a bond with. For instance, my name is Iroda and my boyfriend likes to call me Irodonka (Иродонька).

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