This corpus-based study examines the expression of synthetic diminutives in the often assumed “non-emotive” language of English and the emotive language of Spanish. The topic of diminution is approached through a quantitative perspective, looking at two fundamental concepts of diminution, i.e. productivity of formation and distribution of denotative meanings/semantic denotations. The two corpora used in this study is the Corpus of Historical American English and Corpus del Español, which respectively provide evidence for the manifestations of English and Spanish synthetic diminutives in naturally produced language in the genres of Spoken, Fiction, News, Magazines and Academic texts. The study confirms that synthetic diminutive formation is more productive in Spanish, as is hypothesised, but in addition, it discovers that English shows signs of productiveness when comparing the relative frequencies of individual diminutive lexemes in English and Spanish. Also, this study argues that the diminutive type of specialised diminutives can be found in the English corpus data, a diminutive category which previously has not been acknowledged in English diminutive research, but which already constitutes an important function of the Spanish diminutive expression. Hence, the present study contributes to the lack of empirical research in the understudied field of contrastive word formation.