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Word for the Day: Boffin - "You didn't hear about the polar bear?"
June 28th, 2005
10:47 pm

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Word for the Day: Boffin
SQUEEEE!!!! I'm a Boffin!!!! Wouldn't you like to be a boffin, too?

Discovered the word when I followed a link in finabair's journal to an article in an Aussie newspaper about zombie dogs.

But - that's beside the point. *G*

What's important is that I looked up what it means!

And I have to admit that I wondered - are they related to puffins? Well...

OMG... possibly yes!!! Look what I found:


bof·fin also Bof·fin (bŏf'ĭn)
n. Chiefly British Slang.
A scientist, especially one engaged in research.



[Brit] a scientific expert; esp. one involved in technological research

Meaning #1: (British slang) a scientist or technician engaged in military research

This article is about a British slang word for a scientist. For other uses of the word see boffin (disambiguation).

In the slang of the United Kingdom, boffins are scientists, engineers, and other people who are stereotypically seen as engaged in technical or scientific research. The word conjures up images of older men in thick spectacles and white lab coats working with complicated chemical apparatus.

The word's origin is unknown. Some claim that it is a deformation of puffin, the bird; Eric Partridge points to Nicodemus Boffin, a fictional character who appears in Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, and who is described there as a "very odd looking old fellow." The word appeared during World War II, where it was applied with some affection to the men who invented radar, early digital computers, the atomic bomb, and other technologies that gave the Allies an advantage over the Axis during the war.

After the war, anti-intellectualism came to the fore, however, and the word came to have a more pejorative connotation. A boffin was the full grown version of the swot, an inoffensive person who offended his peers by too careful attention to schoolwork.

The word has found little favour in the United States, where the corresponding insults are geek and (formerly) nerd.


See also
mad scientist


*rubs hands together and laughs maniacally*

*does the boffin dance*

(sorry, I can't teach it to you... it's a military secret, and... I'd have to kill you!)

(5 comments | Leave a comment)

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[User Picture]
From:lilithlotr
Date:June 29th, 2005 04:51 am (UTC)
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ah, yes, an old favorite of mine. I seem to hear it in David McCallum's voice, for some odd reason.
[User Picture]
From:rosamundeb
Date:June 29th, 2005 03:11 pm (UTC)
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*L*! Good lord... I can see that, too.

(p.s. checked out Alan Cumming in a kilt and... he looked much better naked!)
[User Picture]
From:singeaddams
Date:June 29th, 2005 01:45 pm (UTC)
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I'll have to use that in my upcoming Folco-centric fic. BWAHA!
[User Picture]
From:aeb
Date:June 30th, 2005 05:18 am (UTC)
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{blink, surprised smile} Then I guess Dad was a boffin, at least for the three years between finishing his masters and going back to school for his doctor's. That's when he decided he preferred academia to industry. Too much secrecy.... {Laugh, SMILE, REALLY BIG GRIN}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin
From:(Anonymous)
Date:June 30th, 2005 07:12 am (UTC)
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So how does that correspond to a gay book store I visited being called Boffin Books? Maybe I remember the name wrong.
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