Friday, August 22, 2003

My New Favorite Suffix

Every day, Merriam-Webster emails me a Word of the Day. Today’s word is “poetaster,” meaning a second-rate or inferior poet. According to the accompanying commentary, -aster is a Latin suffix (hey, they didn’t teach me that one in high school!) that indicates “partial resemblance” or “inferiority.” And it turns out there are several other English words with the -aster suffix, including criticaster (think Gene Shalit), politaster (Gray Davis), and philosophaster (William Bennett).

Despite the resemblance, the dictionary tells me that poetaster and its ilk do not share etymology with disaster and pederasty. But the similarity only adds to the derogatory power of the suffix.

I think this is a rich source of new word coinages. The possibilities are endless: bloggeraster, econaster (not economaster, because that “master” part could get confusing), columnaster, journalaster… This is fun! C’mon, try your own!

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