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-ster

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Definition of -ster

a suffix used in forming nouns, often derogatory, referring especially to occupation, habit, or association: gamester; songster; trickster.
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Origin of -ster

Middle English; Old English -estre; cognate with Dutch -ster,Middle Low German -(e)ster

Other definitions for -ster (2 of 2)

ster.

abbreviation
sterling.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

WORDS THAT USE -STER

What does -ster mean?

The form -ster is a suffix that marks an agent noun. Agent nouns are nouns that indicate a person who does an action, and broadly speaking, -ster means “doer.” The suffix -ster is similar to -er, another agent noun, but -ster sometimes implies a more negative feeling about the doer. This suffix is used in a wide variety of informal terms.

The suffix -ster comes from the Old English -estre, where it denoted female agent nouns. The equivalent for male agent nouns was -er, as mentioned above, which has not developed the negative connotation that the traditionally feminine -ster has.

What are variants of -ster?

When agent nouns ending in -ster are used to refer to a feminine-gendered element, -ster becomes -stress, as in seamstress (a female seamster). Similar suffixes include -ess, as in stewardess (a female steward), and -euse, as in chanteuse (a female chanteur, or singer).

Want to know more? Read our Words That Use -euse and -stress articles.

Examples of -ster

One example of a term you are likely familiar with that features the suffix -ster is hipster, “a usually young person who is trendy, stylish, or progressive in an unconventional way; someone who is hip.”

Hip- here does not refer to the body part; instead, it means “familiar with or informed about the latest ideas or styles”—in other words, “cool.” The -ster suffix marks this word as an agent noun, and therefore, hipster means “someone who is cool” or “someone who does cool things.” However, it’s important to note that the -ster form carries a negative feeling with it, and even though hipster has a “cool” meaning, the use of -ster implies that the speaker is looking down on or even making fun of the hipster.

What are some words that use the suffix -ster?

What are some other forms that -ster may be commonly confused with?

Break it down!

Given what you know about the meaning of -ster, what is a pollster?

How to use -ster in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for -ster

-ster

suffix forming nouns
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 for -ster

Old English -estre
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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