In conversation, I said jokingly:

С молокососами нередко бывает куча хлопот. Сдается мне, я постоянно убираю за ними... С тем же успехом я вполне мог бы вести дело совсем уж в одиночку!

{vs}: С молокососами нередко бывает уйма хлопот.

I'm wondering how they compare with one another in terms of nuance, usage, and register?

And does the dimunitive "кучка + gen." completely lose the emphatic aspect of "куча + gen. /// lots of"? I assume "кучка хлопот" sounds odd.

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    куча is not necessarily vulgar unless it's куча говна, but colloquial it is, especially in negatively emotionally charged expressions, in your example it's totally acceptable, its colloquial synonym is полнО which is more neutral, but admittedly gels poorly with such intensifying pronoun as так and doesn't gel at all with такой due to being an adverb, so when i need to add it i simply switch to так/столько много, but уйма i never use in daily conversations in particular as it's a literary vocabulary – Баян Купи-ка Jan 7 '19 at 22:13
  • @БаянКупи-ка I honestly believe that it can count as an answer as well rather as a comment. – shabunc Jan 7 '19 at 22:15
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    By the way, «Сдается мне» seems inappropriate in that sentence -- it means you are not sure if you are constantly cleaning up after your sucklings. – mustaccio Jan 8 '19 at 13:41

"Куча" is vulgar and colloquial, "уйма" is acceptable in a wider range of cases. A pupil can say to the teacher - "Ну вы дали просто такую уйму задач, что мы вряд ли успеем за полтора часа". The same phrase with "такую кучу задач" is totally acceptable but by some teacher can be treated as too brusque and even rude.

A politician on an official meeting with some foreign delegation easily can say "есть уйма областей в которых наши страны могли бы бы продолжать укреплять сотрудничество", the same with "куча" would be simply unacceptable by diplomatic standards.

Ironically, the word уймища is also highly colloquial so it's interchangeable with куча rather than with уйма. Other synonyms one can find here.

Also it worth to keep in mind that, unlike "уйма" which is an abstract concept from the very beginning, "куча" initially stood for a physical object - and it still means (apart from "many") a pile. That said - whenever this connotation of something material is important, "куча" is de-facto used more often. One will more likely can exclaim - "да тут просто куча грязных носков!" - even if it's not literally a pile - it's sort of a pile, you know :)

"Кучка" is indeed lacks the emphatic aspect and is very close to "fistful" (пригоршня, горсть)

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    So it's mainly a difference in register, then. No wonder I never seem to hear my girlfriend say "уйма", while she uses "куча" all the time. Is it odd to use "уйма" between family members, friends, or coworkers? – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Jan 7 '19 at 21:13
  • @Con-gras-tue-les-chiens it does not odd at all - it's slightly more bookish, but not enough even for being out of place in any conversation. – shabunc Jan 7 '19 at 21:14
  • @Con-gras-tue-les-chiens it is odd in my environment, because it's just doesn't exist in it – Баян Купи-ка Jan 7 '19 at 22:08
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    Also, for material objects, "куча" may mean that these objects indeed form a pile. Ex: "У меня на участке куча навоза" vs. "У меня на участке уйма навоза". – Alexander Jan 8 '19 at 0:08
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    My two cents, while "уйма" is both acceptable and widely understood, to me it would sound almost awkward to actually hear it from someone I talk to in my everyday life. I would say it's somewhat outdated (at least for people of my generation) and would generally use any other alternative ('много', 'в избытке', 'достаточно', 'полно'). – Arthur Kazykhanov Jan 8 '19 at 19:54

I would say that куча is a more widespread word nowadays. Тьма and уйма sound better Russian as they reveal your vocabulary. And they are all colloquial. And even more colloquial is протьма.

Куча - это много, кучка - это мало.

Какая-то кучка людей собралась на площади, и вы это называете народным восстанием?!

I wouldn't put сдаётся here, as it sounds a bit outdated and demands another mood. По-моему would match better.

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    "протьма" - never heard this word. Must be very recent addition. – Alexander Jan 8 '19 at 7:52
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    neither have i, as per Google doesn't seem a dictionary word and first appears online in 2005 in just a single instance – Баян Купи-ка Jan 8 '19 at 8:07
  • @Alexander, I've known it for my whole life. Alongside with прорва in the same meaning. – Elena Jan 8 '19 at 13:49
  • @БаянКупи-ка I think it is dying out, it is pretty old and pretty colloquial. – Elena Jan 8 '19 at 13:50
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    прорва is familiar – Баян Купи-ка Jan 8 '19 at 13:56

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