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

Origin of -ster

Middle English; Old English -estre; cognate with Dutch -ster, Middle Low German -(e)ster
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for -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

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.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper