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I've heard the word "Minütchen" being used before verbally, in cases where I though using "Minute" would suffice. Is there a difference between the two? The former is the diminutive form of the latter, but I don't see the difference – a minute is always a minute, nothing more and nothing less.

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    It's pretty much used in the same way as little minute in English. ("'ll have that done for you in a little minute.") – Ingmar Nov 27 '16 at 16:17
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    Eine Minute dauert 60 Sekunden, ein Minütchen 60 Sekündchen. – user unknown Nov 28 '16 at 5:21
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I do NOT totally agree with DJCrashdummy and therefor write my own answer:

First of all Minütchen is the diminutive of Minute and is used to play down the real time span that something lasts.

Lets take the following dialogue:

Person 1: Do you really need me to wait until you're done?
Person 2: Come on, it will just take a little minute

Person 1: Soll ich wirklich warten, bis Du (endlich) fertig bist?
Person 2: Komm schon, es dauert doch nur ein Minütchen!

In that case it is clear, that it will last more than a minute, until person 2 is really done, but wants to downplay and appease person 1 who is waiting.

So this is a little different from the other answer, as a Minütchen will not be less but rather more then one minute.

  • that's why i pointed out two different cases: sometimes it is used for a inaccurate time span; and on the other hand it is also used to downplay the real time span. -- this does not exclude the combination of both (like in your case). – DJCrashdummy Nov 28 '16 at 11:31
  • sorry, I personally never heard someone use Minütchen as "less than a minute"... But that might be me... And in the first version of your answer I did not realise your second point to mean "downplay". Like it is now, your answer is more complete, but as I said: I personally don't know your first usage... – Torsten Link Nov 28 '16 at 12:42
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Well... from the technical point of view you are right: a minute is a minute and that's it.

On the other hand you can say from a linguistic point of view that there is a difference and it is used in different settings:

  • Inaccurate time span:
    "Minütchen" is sometimes used if you (hope/assume to) need less than a whole minute for something and/or you can't/won't be completely exact.
  • Downplay the real time span:
    also this diminutive form is used (sometimes as plural) to ask for the time of other people, if you want to express it less time than it really is.
  • It is for sure also possible to combine this two cases.
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    Bottom line: It’s a mere diminutive of Minute and can easily be synonym for a significantly prolonged period of time. – dakab Nov 27 '16 at 16:44

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