from Old French -ette, feminine of -et1.
The use of -ette as a feminine suffix for forming new words is relatively recent: it was first recorded in the word suffragette at the beginning of the 20th century and has since been used to form only a handful of well-established words, including usherette and drum majorette, for example. In the modern context, where the tendency is to use words which are neutral in gender, the suffix -ette is not very productive and new words formed using it tend to be restricted to the deliberately flippant or humorous, as, for example, ladette and punkette.
Definition of -ette in:
- The US English dictionary