One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Forming nouns denoting relatively small size.‘kitchenette’
2Forming nouns denoting an imitation or substitute.‘flannelette’
3Forming nouns denoting female gender.‘suffragette’
The use of -ette as a feminine suffix for forming new words is relatively recent: it was first recorded in the word suffragette at the beginning of the 20th century and has since been used to form only a handful of well-established words, including usherette and drum majorette, for example. In the modern context, where the tendency is to use words which are neutral in gender, the suffix -ette is not very productive and new words formed using it tend to be restricted to the deliberately flippant or humorous, as, for example, ladette and punkette
From Old French -ette, feminine of -et.
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