- a suffix used in forming nouns, often derogatory, referring especially to occupation, habit, or association: gamester; songster; trickster.
Origin of -ster
- indicating a person who is engaged in a certain activityprankster; songster Compare -stress
- indicating a person associated with or being something specifiedmobster; youngster
Word Origin and History for -ster
Old English -istre, from Proto-Germanic *-istrijon, feminine agent suffix used as the equivalent of masculine -ere (see -er (1)). Also used in Middle English to form nouns of action (meaning "a person who ...") without regard for gender.
The genderless agent noun use apparently was a broader application of the original feminine suffix, beginning in the north of England, but linguists disagree over whether this indicates female domination of weaving and baking trades, as represented in surnames such as Webster, Baxter, Brewster, etc. (though spinster clearly represents a female ending). In Modern English, the suffix has been productive in forming derivative nouns (gamester, punster, etc.).