I was looking up "wallah" and the OED said "from the Hindi suffix -vālā ‘doer’" and I was wondering if there was a term for suffixes like this. I suspect the answer is really trivial

More English examples would be -er which transforms kick into kicker or jest into jester.


I would call this an agentive suffix, i.e. a suffix which forms an agent noun

Note that it is possible to turns verbs into nouns with other meanings and sometimes this can be ambiguous. "He is a keeper" could mean that he keeps things or that he should be kept

  • I like the idea. Trying a number of online dictionaries - Oxford, Cambridge, Webster, Google - , it seems to me that it’s claims to being established either in the general language or in the specialist language is tenuous. The online Cambridge grammar does not even recognise it. As a proposal, it is good try. Actually there may be more than at first appear. ‘-or’, ‘-rix’ (directrix), ‘-ist’, ‘-eer’ (auctioneer), . There are curious gender discriminators among them. The ‘-erina’ in ballerina has no masculine counterpart. There are ‘agentive’ tags such as ‘dinner lady’ ‘muffin man’. – Tuffy Nov 7 '18 at 12:02
  • I'm a little reluctant to accept the only answer so far. It seems like the real answer is "there isn't a term for that". If nothing else comes in over the weekend, I'll take this though. – Nagora Nov 9 '18 at 14:50

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