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в чем разница между жёлтый и жёлтенький?

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    приблизительно в том же, в чём разница между "красный" и "красненький".
    – shabunc
    May 16 '16 at 22:29
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The difference is the attitude of the speaker towards the color. While жёлтый is neutral, the speaker has no special feelings or attitude towards the object being that yellow, calling an object желтенький shows the speaker is not indifferent to the yellow of the object, the color seems somehow unusual, out-of-place, either too bright, too yellow, or not suitable for that object to be taken seriously.

On the other hand, желтенький can be used without any attitude connotations by children or young mothers who tend to use diminutive forms of every word, "horsy/horsie, doggy, birdy" style. In Russian, not only nouns and adjectives but even verbs can have diminutive forms, like «А вот вы что с утра любите покушенькать?», 'And what do you like to eat in the morning?'

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    Just a note to @1453 - please never ever actually use "покушенькать". It's one of the worst abominations of a word I've seen.
    – user5462
    May 13 '16 at 15:43
  • а возможно делать это с любым глаголом? —например, "я читенькаю". это было бы классно)) хаха
    – VCH250
    May 14 '16 at 14:12
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    @VCH250: google.ru/search?q=читатеньки , google.ru/search?q=читатенькать Or maybe you meant the loanword читить ("to cheat, as in a video game")? What you said would be the 1st sg. diminutive for it, for sure.
    – Quassnoi
    May 16 '16 at 14:47
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    I would add "[пойдём] спатоньки". Disgusting, nevertheless. May 19 '16 at 13:39
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One more meaning of "жёлтенький": it can refer to close shades of yellow, something like "yellowish".
Added: for example, if I am (informally) asked which of those button to click, my gut instinct is to answer "жёлтенькую". If I answer "жёлтую", I might get an odd look because there's no yellow button and the first one is beige or whatever.
. two awful buttons
But agreed with Quassnoi♦, "желтоватый" is a more correct term here. It's just a bit longer to pronounce.

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    I think "yellowish" would rather be желтоватый. Could you please provide an example where mere replacement of жёлтенький with жёлтый or vice versa would assume a change of shade?
    – Quassnoi
    May 13 '16 at 16:37
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Никакой разницы в цвете нет, вся разница в объекте, о котором идёт речь: если к нему применяется уменьшительно-ласкательное, его можно распространить и на прилагательное.

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На мой взгляд слово желтенький, как и вообще прилагательные с суффиксом "еньк" не несет в себе никакого грамматического смысла, и используется по какой-то непонятной причине в лексиконе женщин. Если нужно словами передать блеклый оттенок желтого цвета то правильно будет сказать "желтоватый", но уж никак не "желтенький".

Однако есть некоторые устоявшиеся слова с суффиксом "еньк", например: маленький, старенький.

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    If a word is used on a daily basis by a signification fraction of speakers, it for sure carries some kind of grammatical load. You can say the word is not normative or fit for a certain environment, but not that it isn't "right": people say and understand it, after all.
    – Quassnoi
    May 16 '16 at 14:42
  • @Quassnoi In case of "желтенький" I would tend to say it is incorrect and even among women such word would be rare. Would be probably common only among those with strong speech travesty habits. For a learner, I would recommend to avoid this in general.
    – Mikhail V
    May 16 '16 at 14:53
  • Russian authors like Ostrovsky, Prishvin and Saltykov-Schedrin deemed this word correct (and appropriate enough) to use it in their works. Their style does not strike me as feminine
    – Quassnoi
    May 16 '16 at 15:10
  • @Quassnoi ну "подруженьки", "хорошенький" еще можно как-то понять. Но "желтенький" или "мокренький" не укладывается у меня в голове да и противно звучит.
    – Mikhail V
    May 16 '16 at 15:16

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