The portmanteau bankster—a fusion of banker and gangster, from which we can infer the definition—has been growing in prevalence since the late-2000s financial crisis began, and it’s received a boost from the recent demonstrations against financial-industry abuses. A Google News archive search uncovers a few scattered instances of bankster going back to the 1930s, but the word never gained widespread use until late 2008. Since then it’s only grown, albeit mostly in internet comment sections and blogs.
Bankster is of course pejorative, implying that the person described makes money through illegal or unethical tactics. In our opinion, the word is best saved for bankers who have actually done wrong (rather than applied to everyone who works in the financial industry), and it probably has no place in formal contexts.
Let’s look at a few colorful instances of bankster use recently in blogs and news publications:
Is it to protest the enormous social costs and economic damage caused by the swindles of the banksters? [Seattle Times]
The banksters had already perfected their terrorist weapons: interest rate swaps and credit default swaps. [The Street]
We want to cut off the corporate welfare and the bankster bailouts. [War is Crime]
Greece, Britain, America, and the entire world must do what Michelle Shelton did; they, we, must divorce the banksters. [Digital Journal]
Establishment politicians in Germany have balked at a second bankster bailout. [Infowars]