A person associated with a specified thing or quality.
[A Yiddish and Russian suffix.]
The ending had been known in English before the mid 1950s, notably in the Yiddish nudnik for a person who pesters or bores, kibbutznik for a member of a kibbutz, and in proper names such as Chetnik, a member of a guerrilla force in the Balkans. However, it was sputnik (literally ‘fellow-traveller' in Russian), a satellite launched in October 1957, that introduced the ending to a wider English audience. Examples include beatnik, a member of the Beat generation; refusenik, a Jew in the former Soviet Union who was refused permission to emigrate to Israel; neatnik, a person neat in his habits, the opposite of a beatnik; and peacenik, a member of a pacifist movement. The form has since lost much of its novel force; the rare new examples tend to follow neatnik and peacenik in being facetious or mildly derogatory: nogoodnik, allrightnik.