a suffix of nouns that refer, usually derogatorily, to persons who support or are concerned or associated with a particular political cause or group, cultural attitude, or the like: beatnik, filmnik; no-goodnik; peacenik.

< Yiddish (cf. nudnik) < Slavic: a personal suffix in Slavic languages in contact with Yiddish

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suffix forming nouns
denoting a person associated with a specified state, belief, or quality: beatnik; refusenik
[C20: from Russian -nik, as in Sputnik, and influenced by Yiddish -nik (agent suffix)]

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Word Origin & History

as in beatnik, etc., suffix used in word formation from c.1945, from Yiddish -nik (cf. nudnik "a bore"), from Rus. -nik, common personal suffix meaning "person or thing associated with or involved in" (cf. kolkhoznik "member of a kolkhoz"). Rocketed to popularity with sputnik (q.v.).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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