Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Jan 30 21:40:46 UTC 2012

On Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 4:30 PM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
> James Wimberley comments on the RBS bonus fallout:
> http://goo.gl/FKsy
>> In another glimpse into the entitlement world of the banksters, the
>> /Sunday Times/ (yesterday, p.25, paywall) quotes the chairman of a
>> rival bank sounding off indignantly
> "Bankster" sounds like a put-down to me. On par with hucksters,
> pranksters, gangster, monsters and ministers (OK, I'm kidding about the
> last two). I suspect that mocking Xster terms have been "derived" from
> "gangster". But 1) are most of them really mocking? (aside from the old
> formations that happen to have the same coincidental ending) and 2) is
> it really related to "gangsters"? It almost sounds like a variant of the
> mocking -er generalizer (birther, tenther, deather, etc.)

"Bankster" is a blend of "bank" and "gangster" long predating the recent rash of
"-er" groups. First used in _Time_ in 1932, in the era of the Pecora Commission.
I wrote about it here:



Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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