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

Definition of boffin

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 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 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, 5 July 2018 But the boffins at headquarters in Los Gatos help set the budgets. The Economist, 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, 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, 29 May 2018 Allen is the latest British boffin to argue for the Traversette. Smithsonian, 29 July 2017 See More

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.

First Known Use of boffin

1942, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for boffin

origin unknown

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Cite this Entry

“Boffin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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