From the Slavic suffix (Russian: -ник (-nik)). This suffix experienced a surge in English coinages for nicknames and diminutives after the 1957 Soviet launch of the first Sputnik satellite. English usage is heavily influenced by Yiddish usage of -nik and similar borrowed words (nogoodnik, nudnik, kibbutznik).
- Appended to words to create a nickname for a person who exemplifies, endorses, or is associated with the thing or quality specified (by the base form), often a particular ideology or preference.
- 1990 Autumn, V. V. Kabakchi; Doyle, Charles Clay, “Of Sputniks, Beatniks, and Nogoodniks”, American Speech, volume 65, number 3, JSTOR 455919, pages 275-278:
- Forms masculine nouns referring to a performer of some action, sometimes a device; -er
From Proto-Slavic *-(ь)nikъ, itself originally by nominalization of adjectives in *-ьnъ with the suffix *-ikъ (whence -ik). The suffix originates from Proto-Balto-Slavic period; compare with dialectal Lithuanian lauk-inykas (“peasant, farmer”) (from laũkas (“field”)) and Old Prussian lauk-inikis (“vassal”).
-nik (Cyrillic spelling -ник)
- Suffix appended to nominal stems to create a masculine noun, usually denoting a profession, performer, place, object, tool or a feature.
- Petar Skok, Etimologijski rječnik hrvatskoga ili srpskoga jezika, JAZU: Zagreb, 1971, Volume I, page 515