Entries linking to tipster
"give a small present of money to," c. 1600, originally "to give, hand, pass," thieves' cant, perhaps from tip (v.3) "to tap." The meaning "give a gratuity to" is first attested 1706. The noun in this sense is from 1755; the noun meaning "piece of confidential information" is from 1845; and the verb in the sense "give private information to" is from 1883.
The popularity of the tale of the word's supposed origin as an acronym in mid-18th century English taverns seems to be no older than Frederick W. Hackwood's 1909 book "Inns, Ales and Drinking Customs of Old England," where it was said to stand for To insure promptitude (in the form to insure promptness the anecdote is told from 1946). A reviewer of the book in The Athenaeum of Oct. 2, 1909, wrote, "We deprecate the careless repetition of popular etymologies such as the notion that "tip" originated from an abbreviated inscription on a box placed on the sideboard in old coaching-inns, the full meaning of which was "To Insure Promptitude." Also see here.
Old English -istre, from Proto-Germanic *-istrijon, feminine agent suffix used as the equivalent of masculine -ere (see -er (1)). Also used in Middle English to form nouns of action (meaning "a person who ...") without regard for gender.
The genderless agent noun use apparently was a broader application of the original feminine suffix, beginning in the north of England, but linguists disagree over whether this indicates female domination of weaving and baking trades, as represented in surnames such as Webster, Baxter, Brewster, etc. (though spinster probably carries an originally female ending).
Also compare whitester "one who bleaches cloth;" kempster (c. 1400; Halliwell has it as kembster) "woman who cleans wool." Chaucer ("Merchant's Tale") has chidester "an angry woman." In Modern English, the suffix has been productive in forming derivative nouns (gamester,roadster, punster, rodster "angler," etc.; the 17c. had scoldster).