"writer of novels," 1728, hybrid from novel (n.) + -ist. Influenced by Italian novellista. Earlier in English, it meant "an innovator" (1580s); "a novice" (1620s); "a news-carrier" (1706). Related: Novelistic.
"fictitious prose narrative," 1560s, from Italian novella "short story," originally "new story, news," from Latin novella "new things" (source of French novelle, French nouvelle), neuter plural or fem. of novellus "new, young, recent," diminutive of novus "new" (see new). Originally "one of the tales or short stories in a collection" (especially Boccaccio's), later (1630s) "long prose fiction narrative or tale," a type of work which had before that been called a romance.
A novel is like a violin bow; the box which gives off the sounds is the soul of the reader. [Stendhal, "Life of Henri Brulard"]
The word was used earlier in English in the now-obsolete senses "a novelty, something new," and, in plural, "news, tidings" (mid-15c.), both from Old French novelle.
word-forming element meaning "one who does or makes," also used to indicate adherence to a certain doctrine or custom, from French -iste and directly from Latin -ista (source also of Spanish, Portuguese, Italian -ista), from Greek agent-noun ending -istes, which is from -is-, ending of the stem of verbs in -izein, + agential suffix -tes.
Variant -ister (as in chorister, barrister) is from Old French -istre, on false analogy of ministre. Variant -ista is from Spanish, popularized in American English 1970s by names of Latin-American revolutionary movements.
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<a href="https://www.etymonline.com/word/novelist">Etymology of novelist by etymonline</a>
Harper, D. (n.d.). Etymology of novelist. Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved $(datetime), from https://www.etymonline.com/word/novelist