bof·​fin | \ ˈbä-fən How to pronounce boffin (audio) \

Definition of boffin

chiefly British
: a scientific expert especially : one involved in technological research

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

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 And boffins are constantly improving what bogus burgers taste like. The Economist, "Plant-based meat could create a radically different food chain," 12 Oct. 2019 So China’s boffins are, like many others, surprised by how things have gone. The Economist, "Life after tariffs Trade war? China’s exporters have expanded their global market share," 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, "Why Indonesia is so bad at lawmaking," 21 June 2018 According to the boffins, the different results stem partly from a tweak to its methodology to avoid double-counting across Chinese regions. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "Fixing Chinese Profits Is Easy—Just Fix the Data," 5 July 2018 But the boffins at headquarters in Los Gatos help set the budgets. The Economist, "Netflix is moving television beyond time-slots and national markets," 28 June 2018 But the boffins in Stuttgart have been tinkering with their PHEV tech, adding more kWh, horsepower, torque, and generally refining all the software and control electronics that make everything work. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Porsche’s Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo is a heck of a hybrid," 16 May 2018 The Lucasfilm Story Group's boffins are tying together the franchise's two main trilogies, doubling down on what many thought to be beyond salvaging. Brendan Nystedt, WIRED, "Solo: A Star Wars Story," 29 May 2018 Allen is the latest British boffin to argue for the Traversette. Smithsonian, "How (and Where) Did Hannibal Cross the Alps?," 29 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'boffin.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of boffin

1942, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for boffin

origin unknown

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about boffin

Time Traveler for boffin

Time Traveler

The first known use of boffin was in 1942

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about boffin

Statistics for boffin

Cite this Entry

“Boffin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for boffin


How to pronounce boffin (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of boffin

chiefly British, informal : a research scientist

Comments on boffin

What made you want to look up boffin? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Obscure Shapes

  • a pile of three dimensional shapes in green
  • Something that is ooid is shaped like:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!