Small, little, diminutive, petite, wee, tiny, teeny, weeny, minute, microscopic, miniature can all mean conspicuously below the average in magnitude, especially physical magnitude.
Small (opposed to large ) and little (opposed to big , great ) are often used without distinction. But small , more frequently than little , applies to things whose magnitude is determined by number, size, capacity, value, or significance.
Small is also preferred when words like quantity , amount , size , and capacity are qualified.
Small also applies to intangible and immeasurable things which, however, may be said to be limited in some pertinent or significant way.
Little is usually more absolute in its implications than small , which often connotes less magnitude than is ordinary or is to be expected or is desirable; it may be preferred to small , therefore, when there is the intent to convey a hint of petiteness, of pettiness, or of insignificance in size, amount, quantity, or extent.
Little is also appropriate in the sense of a small amount, a small quantity, or a small extent; thus, one asks for a little sugar or a small quantity of sugar; one sees that the garden is little or of small extent.
Little is also appropriate when the context carries a note of tenderness, pathos, or affection.
Diminutive not only carries a stronger implication of divergence from a normal or usual size or scale than small or little , but it often carries the meaning of extremely or even abnormally small or little.
Petite is the usual term to describe a trim, well-shaped woman or girl of diminutive size.
Wee is found especially in dialectal use in place of small or little or in more general use as an equivalent of diminutive .
Tiny goes further than diminutive or wee in suggesting extreme littleness or a smallness out of proportion to most things of its kind or in comparison with all other things.
Teeny and weeny , found chiefly in childish or playful use, occur also in paired or reduplicated forms (as teeny-weeny and teeny-tiny ).
Minute means extremely small on an absolute scale, usually a microscopic or near-microscopic scale.
Microscopic applies to what is so minute that it is literally observable only under a microscope or is of a comparable minuteness in its class.
Miniature applies to what is complete in itself but is built, drawn, or made on a very small scale.