ota·​ku | \ ō-ˈtä-kü How to pronounce otaku (audio) \
plural otaku also otakus

Definition of otaku

: a person having an intense or obsessive interest especially in the fields of anime and manga often used before another noun otaku culture

First Known Use of otaku

1992, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for otaku

borrowed from Japanese, literally, "your house, your home" (from o-, honorific prefix + taku "house, home"), used as a polite second person pronoun

Note: In Japan the use of the pronoun otaku to refer to young, usually school-age males with poor social skills who devote themselves to technology or some aspect of pop culture began in the mid-1980's; the usage is said to be comparable to the use of nerd or geek in English. It has been claimed that it originated in the column "A Study of Otaku" ("'Otaku' no Kenkyū") by the humorist and essayist Akio Nakamori, published in the manga magazine Manga Burikko beginning in June, 1983. Nakamori does not explain why he applied the word to such youths, but it is hypothesized that it arose from the use of the pronoun among fellow otaku who were strangers, first as a mark of somewhat excessive politeness, then self-consciously as a means of expressing solidarity. See Morikawa Kaichirō, "おたく/ Otaku/Geek," translated by Dennis Washburn, Center for Japanese Studies, UC Berkeley, 2012 (https://escholarship.org/uc/item/5zb9r8cr).

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Cite this Entry

“Otaku.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/otaku. Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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