3.558 Notes and Queries -nik (48)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Mon, 9 Oct 89 21:52:29 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 558. Monday, 9 Oct 1989.

Date: Sun, 08 Oct 89 07:22:14 IST
From: Lew Golan <LEW@TAUNIVM>
Subject: notes and queries: -NIK

Robert Kirsner suggests using the suffix "-NIK" to denote a
non-genuine whatever. No way.

To quote Leo Rosten's definition in "The Joys of Yiddish":
Pronounced NICK. A suffix, from Slavic languages.

This multipurpose syllable converts a verb, noun or adjective
into a word for an ardent practitioner, believer, lover,
cultist or devotee of something.

Thus, a nudnik is someone who nudzhes or pesters. An alrightnik
is someone who has done so well that he is prosperous.

We are all familiar, of course, with beatnik and peacenik.
The New York Times recently referred to Bachniks, and a
friend of mine, dieting, wailed that it was especially
hard for her because at heart she was a noshnik.

-Nik lends itself to delightful ad hoc inventions.
A sicknik would be one who fancies sick or black humor.
A Freudnik would be an uncritical acolyte of the father of
psycholanalysis. And recently homosexuals began to refer to
heterosexuals, with some amusement, as straightniks.
Quite a few kibbutzniks would also quarrel with Kirsner's definition.

What's wrong with the perfectly good prefix, "pseudo," which the
American Heritage Dictionary defines as "false; deceptive; sham"?

Lew Golan
Tel Aviv University