The Spanish suffix '-ista' denotes someone associated with something. This has been adopted into English in one example I can think of, namely a 'fashionista'. One would have expected many more but I can't immediately think of any that are regulary used. Can anyone else help, please?

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    There's Guardianista (UK, slang, derogatory) A reader of the Guardian newspaper, stereotypically regarded as middle-class, excessively liberal and politically correct, etc., which is familiar to me along with fashionista. But I see no reason why we should expect many such coinages, and I never heard of even the examples Marxista, Lincolnista, until I checked that Wiktionary page. – FumbleFingers Nov 13 '13 at 21:06
  • Why would you need to distinguish a Marxista from a Marxist anyway? I'm not sure there are many contexts where -ista would make any more sense than -ist. Except maybe if you think there's a possibility the word with the "standard" ending won't imply your negative opinion of whoever you're referring to. To be honest, I think Guardianista is modeled on fashionista, and for most native speakers, -ista probably has no independent meaning apart from that one "original". – FumbleFingers Nov 13 '13 at 21:13
  • @FumbleFingers I hadn't actually realised that Guardianista existed, even though I take their digital daily. (It is not in the ODE though fashionista is!) Presumably that makes me a Guardianista, does it? Seems as if the Green Party, ought to be named thus. Shall we start calling them the 'environistas'? – WS2 Nov 13 '13 at 21:48
  • A new strand of wealth, and hence red-braces sophistication in British society, are football transfer agents, of which I understand Nicky Blair, son of the former PM is now one. Not only does he live, at age 27, in a £1.35 million home but he is accumulating considerable wealth in his own right, presumably exploiting the family firm in the way Mark Thatcher did. A good appendage for children of senior politicians who use the family name to line their pockets might be the nepotistas! – WS2 Nov 13 '13 at 22:01

The Spanish -ista suffix has in the last few generations become a reasonably common and at least semi-productive suffix in English. It’s nothing compared to our native -ist, but we do have a surprising number of imports with -ista.

In Spanish, where there is not an -ist suffix but only -ista, the suffix is used for nouns and adjectives alike. But unlike in Spanish, in English it is almost always used for nouns, not exclusively for adjectives. The sole “only an adjective” example I could find in English is modernista. That because we have the highly productive -ist suffix in English to do the adjectival work. So you usually see -ista only in words borrowed from southern Romance languages, and even then, it is almost always a noun, not an adjective.

The OED2++ lists these 38 noun and/or adjective entries that end with -ista:

  • Aˈprista [adj.] ← Apra
  • arista [n.]
  • autopista [n.]
  • autopista [n.]
  • ballista [n.]
  • barista [n.]
  • capoeirista [n.]
  • Clintonista [n.]
  • contrabandista [n.]
  • crista [n.]
  • euporista [n. pl.] ← eupoˈriston [n.]
  • fashionista [n.]
  • genista [n.]
  • hasta la vista [n.]
  • hasta la vista [int. (and n.)]
  • lanista [n.]
  • minifundista [n.]
  • modernista [adj.]
  • opus deista [n.]
  • Paulista [n.]
  • Peronista [n. and adj.]
  • peronista [n. and adj.]
  • prima vista [n.]
  • Protista [n. pl.]
  • Protoctista [n.]
  • reconquista [n.]
  • Sandinista [n. (and adj.)]
  • Sandinista [n.]
  • Senderista [n. and adj.]
  • Sinarquista [n.]
  • Sinarquista [n.]
  • Somocista [n. and adj.]
  • torista [n.]
  • torista [n.]
  • turista [n.]
  • turista [n.]
  • vista [n.]
  • Zapatista [n. and adj.]

Where the sigil indicates a foreign term not necessarily yet fully assimilated into English.

Just to keep everything in perspective, the same source also list 2,525 noun entries ending in a bare -ist without the terminal a, and 331 such entries that are adjectives.

However, there is some overlap between those, as it is easy to turn someone with — say, a prescriptivist perspective into actually being a prescriptivist.

There’s also something peculiar about -ist words (but not borrowed -ista ones) in that they are strange attractors for other suffixes that can lead to long agglutinative chains.

  • agonist, agonistic, agonistical, agonistically
  • archaic, archaicist, archaicistic, archaicistically
  • jurist, juristic, juristical, juristically
  • linguist, linguistic, linguistical, linguistically
  • material, materialist, materialistic, materialistically
  • What do you do in your spare time? – WS2 Nov 14 '13 at 19:38
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    In some of the words in the list, "-ista" does not work as a suffix, e.g. "autopista", "vista" (and derivatives). – CesarGon Dec 2 '13 at 14:16

The -ista is used in imitation of Sandinista, the common name of the left-wing revolutionary movement in Nicaragua founded in the 1930s. To a lesser extent, it may reference the Peronistas (followers of Juan Perón), or other Latin American radical movements.

Such movements attracted particular concern in the United States following the Cuban Revolution, and the Sandinistas became a household name after their successful overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship in 1979— spawning Congressional battles over US funding for the opposition Contras, various Hollywood action movies, the Iran-Contra scandal which crippled the second term of the Reagan administration, and my least favorite Clash album.

Why -ista instead of the ordinary -ist, as with adherents to the Bolshevist, Stalinist, and other camps? It imparts an element of foreign exoticism that underscores the radicalism; -ista may thus be considered a sister to Sputnik-inspired -nik that gave us beatniks and peaceniks. Also similar are -ariat (from proletariat, whence commentariat, professoriat) and -rati (from literati, whence glitterati and now twitterati).

Guardianista was coined as a term of abuse for enthusiasts of The Guardian, a leftish British newspaper, suggesting that they were perhaps fellow travelers.

Fashionista was popularized by Stephen Fried's Thing of Beauty: The Tragedy of the Supermodel Gia, published in 1993. Although he is often credited with coining it, it appears in earlier works, like 1992's Vague : Violet Pea, a fashionista by a William Conway.

In any case, by then, the civil war in Nicaragua and the Cold War had both abated, and -ista has largely lost its revolutionary connotations; conservatives grumbled about Clintonistas in the 1990s but that was that. Nowadays it can gently mock someone's obsession with something, but can also be taken as a label of pride. For example, in the web development word, a standardista is one interested in the adoption and adherence to standard language specifications from official bodies.

  • Very interesting analysis. Would just point out though that the Guardian is no more radical than the New York Times with whom it maintains a close working relationship, most recently and celebratedly, over the matter of Edwin Snowdon and his revelations. – WS2 Nov 13 '13 at 22:20
  • @WS2 I did not mean to imply that the Guarniad was a radical paper; rather, that is what its critics sought to do. But it was certainly tied closely to Labour, which prior to the Blairistas was ostensibly socialist in its aims. – choster Nov 13 '13 at 22:22
  • Long before the Sandinistas were widely known in the US "La Turista" was used (alternating with "Montezuma's Revenge") for the vicious diarrhea which often afflicted travelers in Mexico and points south; one of Sam Shepard's early plays (1967) had this as its title. – StoneyB on hiatus Nov 13 '13 at 23:01
  • @StoneyB But I would consider turista a loanword, whereas fashionista is clearly an neologism native to English. The same goes for barista, which is obviously in a different category from Velveeta Kitchenista. – choster Nov 13 '13 at 23:26
  • @choster I was suggesting that the suffix and its derivation (-ism > -ista) were familiar to US readers before Sandinista became current. – StoneyB on hiatus Nov 13 '13 at 23:49

One who dispenses coffee in an establishment such as Costa Coffee or Caffè Nero is a barista.

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    Yes I did think of that, but as these coffee establishments mimic Italian iconography rather than Spanish, I wasn't sure if it was quite the same thing. Given the Spanish predilection for football I am surprised we don't have futbolistas, goalistas, etc. The latter could become a much-needed name for the tiny coterie of top-quality strikers in the game. – WS2 Nov 13 '13 at 21:37
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    ‘Barista’ is taken from Italian, but the suffix employed is shared between Spanish and Italian, so it is at least the same building block, even if the actual donor language is different. Similar to how the first element of both ‘husband’ and ‘hussy’ is the word ‘house’, even though the former is from Old Norse and the latter from purely English. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 13 '13 at 22:42

Guardianista - Readers of The Guardian newspaper.

Typically middle-class, excessively liberal, if not Marxist, politically-correct idealists. Tend to live in places like Islington, Newington Green etc and though they claim to fight for workers rights have nothing but contempt for the average working-class persons opinion, or for that matter anyone who has not got an Undergraduate degree.

  • Well Ted. I'm sad that you think that. I was born a Norfolk yokel, my father and uncles the first in their family who had earned their living other than by agricultural labour. I grew up thinking the past tense of snow was 'snew'. I fed pigs when I was a boy, sometimes before I went to school in the morning, and mucked them out on Saturdays. Culturally I consider myself working-class, and a football fanatic. (Sadly not at Carrow Rd last week) But I read the Guardian and applaud what it stands for. I wouldn't touch the Daily Mail or a Murdoch paper with a barge pole. – WS2 12 hours ago – WS2 Nov 15 '13 at 8:16

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