bof·​fin ˈbä-fən How to pronounce boffin (audio)
chiefly British
: a scientific expert
especially : one involved in technological research

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Boffin is an informal word that is more common in the U.K. than in the U.S. It is a relative newcomer to the English language, only appearing toward the end of World War II. Despite its youth, however, the origins of "boffin" are a mystery to us. The term was probably first applied by British Royal Air Force members to the scientists and engineers working closely with radar technology. The term was soon being more broadly applied to scientists involved in technological research. British speakers also use "boffin" colloquially to refer to academics or intellectuals in general, often in a manner that is synonymous with "nerd" or "egghead."

Examples of boffin in a Sentence

Our boffins finally broke the enemy's code!
Recent Examples on the Web Ironically enough, using AI to help better understand the risks and impact that AI will have on (other) industries in order to better risk adjust investments, is an emerging hot topic among risk boffins. Lawrence Wintermeyer, Forbes, 22 Feb. 2024 Biermann has since retired but not before training up a generation of vehicle dynamics boffins, and the Ioniq 5 N is their first full performance EV. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, 29 Dec. 2023 Because Science Festival in Adams Morgan Science fans of all ages are welcome at this weekend-long fest, but budding boffins might particularly enjoy sessions in slime making, space painting and paper airplane engineering. Chris Richards, Washington Post, 28 Sep. 2023 Neither boffin nor bard will get any quarrel from the powers that be at Hästens: an ultra-premium bedding company, founded in 1852 by Pehr Adolf Janson and now owned by fifth-generation executive chairman Jan Ryde, for whom the pursuit of proper nocturnal rejuvenation is pretty much a religion. Nick Scott, Robb Report, 11 Aug. 2023 Cadillac, spare us the output of your fuddy-duddies and give us the promise of your best boffins. Csaba Csere, Car and Driver, 16 Mar. 2023 And boffins are constantly improving what bogus burgers taste like. The Economist, 12 Oct. 2019 So China’s boffins are, like many others, surprised by how things have gone. The Economist, 12 Dec. 2019 Whereas in many other countries legal boffins do the drafting, in Indonesia the job can fall to politicians, many of whom are inexperienced. The Economist, 21 June 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'boffin.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


origin unknown

First Known Use

1942, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of boffin was in 1942


Dictionary Entries Near boffin

Cite this Entry

“Boffin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Apr. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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