A person or thing associated with an activity or quality.
[Old English -estre, -istre, etc.]
Some early examples referred to a woman engaged in an occupation, such as brewster, maltster, and spinster, originally ‘a woman who spins’ (the ending was the feminine equivalent of words in -ere, which later became -er; see -er1). It has long been extended to activities undertaken by men, such as chorister or teamster. Words in which it refers to a characteristic of the person include youngster and the US-derived oldster, as well as hipster (a person who is hip, who follows the latest trends and fashions). Less often, the ending refers to objects, roadster being a rare example.
It often has a derogatory sense: tipster, rhymester, prankster. Many of these are more common in the US than Britain: gamester, gangster, huckster, jokester, mobster, punster, trickster. Such terms continue to be formed, again most frequently in the US: popster, hypester, soulster, scamster.
Master comes from Old English mæg(i)ster, but derives from Latin magister (see also -meister); others that derive from Latin words with the same ending include minister and barrister (formed from bar in imitation of minister), as do nouns ending in -aster (such as poetaster). In words such as boaster, jester, broadcaster, and protester, the suffix is -er (see -er1) on a stem ending in st.
See also -stress.