Bankster
Posted: 21 April 2010 12:55 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Reading Dutchtoo’s comment in the “From the Dutch?” thread, “In Dutch it says “klokkenluidster”, the feminine form of “klokkenluider”.” and having just come across “bankster” (a portmanteau of “banker” and “gangster” if anyone is unfamiliar with the neologism) led me to wonder about the “-ster” suffix to donate an agent.  I could only think of “gangster” and “teamster”, neither of which are likely to have derived from feminine occupations.  Can anyone think of any others and/or shed light on the origins of the suffix?

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Posted: 21 April 2010 02:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Spinster. (Originally a feminine occupation.) See http://wordoriginsorg.yuku.com/forum/viewtopic/id/3189
Hmm. Huckster is an occupation, I suppose.

Webster, Brewster and Baxter (bake-ster) persist as names but have largely gone out of use as common nouns.

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Posted: 21 April 2010 04:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The OE suffix -ster got reanalyzed in the Middle English period so that the er was the agentive suffix, and so you then got words like seamstress with the French suffix from Latin -issa. Demster is another name from deem originally ‘to judge’.

[ Edited: 21 April 2010 04:15 PM by jheem ]
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Posted: 21 April 2010 10:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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knitster, maltster
mobster
trickster, prankster
speedster, sportster, roadster (and Porsche Boxster)
dumpster
Lobster (brand name for a machine that lobs tennis balls at you)

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Posted: 21 April 2010 10:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Tapster is familiar from the works of Shakespeare. This was originally exclusively feminine.

1. orig. A woman who tapped or drew ale or other liquor for sale in an inn; a hostess. Obs.

c1000 ÆLFRIC Gram. ix. (Z.) 36 Caupona, tæppestre.  c1386 CHAUCER Prol. 241 He knew..euerich Hostiler and Tappestere.

2. A man who draws the beer, etc. for the customers in a public house; the keeper of a tavern.

The word in the first three quots. may be feminine.
c1400 Destr. Troy 1594 Tauerners, tapsters, all the toune ouer. c1450 Mankind 267 in Macro Plays 11, I haue be sethen with {ygh}e comyn tapster of Bury. 1530 PALSGR. 279/1 Tapster, boutelier, boutiliere. 1570 LEVINS Manip. 77/4 A Tapster, promus. 1598 SHAKES. Merry W. I. iii. 17 An old Cloake, makes a new Ierkin: a wither’d Seruingman, a fresh Tapster. 1612 W. PARKES Curtaine-Dr. (1876) 26 Ther’s Tom the Tapster peerelesse for renowne,

From OED.

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Posted: 22 April 2010 06:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The OED2 has a good write-up under -ster. To summarize:

In Old English the masculine and feminine agentive suffixes were -ere and -estre. Usage in OE was strictly along sex lines, with the only crossing of the lines with the feminine applied to men being in translations from Latin masculine terms for professions that were dominated by women in England (e.g., the Latin pistor became bæcestre [bakester, baxter]).

In the Middle English period, the usage split along dialectal lines. But in Scotland and the north, words with the -ster ending began to commonly be used in reference to men. And in Scotland, most of the -ster words even switched grammatical gender, becoming masculine. In the south, the sex distinctions remained, and new -ster words with the sex distinction were coined. But more and more the French -eresse came to be used when a feminine designation was required, and starting in the 16th century the -ster suffix began to acquire the masculine in the south of England as well.

Teamster and gangster are relatively new coinages (18th and late-19th centuries, respectively) and have always been masculine. Spinster is just about the only one of the -ster words that remains exclusively feminine in modern English (and no longer refers to the occupation).

[ Edited: 23 April 2010 06:05 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 22 April 2010 12:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Thanks everyone.

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Posted: 23 April 2010 07:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Dr. Techie - 21 April 2010 02:56 PM

Spinster. (Originally a feminine occupation.) See http://wordoriginsorg.yuku.com/forum/viewtopic/id/3189
Hmm. Huckster is an occupation, I suppose.


Webster, Brewster and Baxter (bake-ster) persist as names but have largely gone out of use as common nouns.

could we perhaps add Prankster?

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Posted: 23 April 2010 07:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Dr. Techie - 21 April 2010 02:56 PM
Spinster. (Originally a feminine occupation.) See http://wordoriginsorg.yuku.com/forum/viewtopic/id/3189
Hmm. Huckster is an occupation, I suppose.

Webster, Brewster and Baxter (bake-ster) persist as names but have largely gone out of use as common nouns.[/quotes

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Posted: 23 April 2010 09:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Gamester (a gambler) is one that doesn’t come up very often.  I only remember it from a spelling bee from my childhood, in which it eliminated a couple of my opponents who misheard it as gangster and, for some reason, didn’t ask for sufficient clarification.

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Posted: 23 April 2010 10:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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One of the cornier episodes of the original Star Trek series was titled “The Gamesters of Triskelion” (Triskelion being the name of the planet on which the action was set, although the triskelion shape was used a lot in the sets.) The “gamesters” turned out to be disembodied brains who spent their time kidnapping passing spacefarers (including Kirk, Uhura, and Chekov), forcing them into gladiatorial combat, and betting on the outcomes.

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Posted: 23 April 2010 02:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Songster?

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Posted: 23 April 2010 03:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Would not songstress be more common for a woman?

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