a noun suffix occurring originally in loanwords from French, where it has been used in a variety of diminutive and hypocoristic formations (brunette; cigarette; coquette; etiquette; rosette ); as an English suffix, -ette, forms diminutives (kitchenette; novelette; sermonette ), distinctively feminine nouns (majorette; usherette ), and names of imitation products (leatherette ).
Compare -et.

< French, feminine of -et -et

English nouns in which the suffix -ette designates a feminine role or identity have been perceived by many people as implying inferiority or insignificance: bachelorette; drum majorette; farmerette; suffragette; usherette. Of these terms, only drum majorette—or sometimes just majorette—is still widely used, usually applied to one of a group of young women who perform baton twirling with a marching band. A woman or man who actually leads a band is a drum major. Baton twirler is often used instead of (drum) majorette. Farmer, suffragist, and usher are applied to both men and women, thus avoiding any trivializing effect of the -ette ending. See also -enne, -ess, -trix.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
suffix forming nouns
1.  small: cigarette; kitchenette
2.  female: majorette; suffragette
3.  (esp in trade names) imitation: Leatherette
[from French, feminine of -et]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

dim. formation, from O.Fr. -ette (fem.), used indiscriminately in O.Fr. with masc. form -et. As a general rule, older words borrowed from Fr. have -et in Eng., while ones taken in since 17c. have -ette. In use with native words since 20c., especially among persons who coin new product names, who tend
to give it a sense of "imitation." Also in words like sermonette, which, OED remarks, "can scarcely be said to be in good use, though often met with in newspapers."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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