The Zip-man

Yesterday’s Zippy:

Two things: the diner in the strip; and the name pattern in the Zuck-man.

The diner. I haven’t been able to read the name of the diner, though I think the first word is Mrs. Can anyone help?

The name. Two patterns here: the Zuck-man (in the strip) or the alternative the Zuckster. More examples: the Zip-man or the Zipster for Zippy, the Zwick-man or the Zwickster for me, the Deanster for my friend Dean Allemang (as produced by his brother some years ago). Characteristics of the patterns:

(1) they are US jocular monikers — I’m fond of double dactyls — for a man

(2) they are arthrous, with the definite article the

(3) they have a monosyllabic name, clipped if necessary from a longer name (FN Dean, Zip for Zippy; LN Zuck for Zuckerberg, Zwick for Zwicky)

(4) plus a suffix (secondarily accented –man /mæn/, unaccented –ster /stər/)

The suffix -man needs no explanation. The suffix -ster is more complex, but in its current uses it’s strongly associated with men and weakly with the US. From Michael Quinion’s affixes site:

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 …). 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, rhymesterprankster. 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.

Quinion doesn’t cover the slangy proper name uses of the suffixes, but they are clearly developments from older uses. And they seem to have been around for decades (at least), although cites are hard to search for.

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