Words related to -ess

seamstress (n.)

"needlewoman, woman who sews or makes seams," 1640s, with -ess + seamster (also sempster) from Middle English semester "one who sews, one whose occupation is sewing," from Old English seamestre "sewer, tailor, person whose work is sewing," from seam (n.) + -ster.

The -ster ending is feminine, but in Old English seamestre also was applied to men, and the Middle English word was used of both sexes, though seamsters were "usually female" [Middle English Compendium]. Evidently by 17c. the fem. ending no longer was felt as such and a new one added (as in children, etc.), and seamster thence was applied to male sewers.

seductress (n.)

1803, "female seducer, woman who leads a man astray," with -ess + obsolete seductor (late 15c., displaced by seducer), from a direct borrowing of the Latin agent noun of seducere "lead away, lead aside or astray" (see seduce). Latin seductrix is glossed in Old English by biswica.

shepherdess (n.)
late 14c., from shepherd + -ess.
stewardess (n.)
1630s, "female steward," from steward (n.) + -ess. Meaning "female attendant on passenger aircraft" is from 1931; used of ships (where she waited on the female passengers) from 1837.
tigress (n.)
1610s, from tiger + -ess.
waitress (n.)
"woman who waits tables at a restaurant," 1834, from waiter + -ess.

Page 3