The English suffix -nik is of Slavic origin. It approximately corresponds to the suffix "-er" and nearly always denotes an agent noun (that is, it describes a person related to the thing, state, habit, or action described by the word to which the suffix is attached).[1] In the cases where a native English language coinage may occur, the "-nik"-word often bears an ironic connotation.



The suffix existed in English in dormant state for a long time, in borrowed terms. An example is raskolnik, recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary as known since 1723.[1] There have been two main waves of the introduction of this suffix into English language. The first one is Yinglish words contributed by Yiddish speakers from Eastern Europe. The second surge was observed after the launch of the Sputnik by the Soviet Union in 1957.

In his book The American Language (first edition published in 1919), H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) credits the postwar mania for adding "-nik" to the ends of adjectives to create nouns as beginning, not with "beatnik"[2] or "Sputnik"[3], but earlier - in the American comic strip Li'l Abner (1934-77), by Al Capp.



Words of significant context or usage:


Casual neologisms:

  • Alrightnik: one who has been successful (who has done all right); nouveau riche
  • Computernik: a computer geek
  • Ipodnik: a person utterly devoted to iPods
  • Muttnik
  • Neatnik: a neat-freak
  • No-goodnik: a lazy or incompetent person
  • Peacenik: a pacifist; a hippie

Jewish adaptation

Words originally used by Jews of Europe, America, and Israel, often referring to concepts related to their experiences or things happening in Israel or among the Jewish people:

  • Chabadnik or Habadnik: follower of Chabad
  • Kadimanik: member of United Synagogue Youth's Kadima program
  • Ka-tzetnik: a Nazi concentration camp prisoner or survivor, derived from abbreviation KZ, pronounced "Ka-tzet"
  • Kibbutznik: member of a Kibbutz
  • Lamedvavnik
  • Likudnik: supporter of Israeli political party Likud
  • Moshavnik: member of a Moshav
  • Shinuinik: supporter of Israeli political party Shinui
  • Mapainik: supporter of the historical Israeli labour party.
  • Netzernik: Member of the Netzer Olami youth movement
  • Nudnik: a nagging, boring or awkward person
  • Reusenik: one who reuses and reuses and reuses again to rid the world of plastic.

Slavic languages

Native or constructed Slavic words originating in Slavic-speaking environments:


  1. ^ a b V. V. Kabakchi, Charles Clay Doyle, "Of Sputniks, Beatniks, and Nogoodniks", American Speech, Vol. 65, No. 3 (1990), pp. 275-278 doi:10.2307/455919
  2. ^ Recorded from April 2, 1958: see: Caen, Herb. San Francisco Chronicle, April 2, 1958.
  3. ^ Recorded in the OED from October 1957.
  4. ^ Artnik

External links

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