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Boffin

Posted by Marian on November 19, 2001

I came across this in an article in the November 10th-16th issue of The Economist. My Webster's Third International Dictionary reveals that it is a British slang term, origin unknown, for a scientific expert. To quote the article,

"So Wall Street's number-crunchers are busy revising down their predictions. Economists at Goldman Sachs, for instance, now expect America's GDP t o contract at an annual rate of 3.5% in the last quarter of 2001, with a further annual-rate contraction of 1% in the first quarter of 2002. And yet, judging both by the boffins' forecasts and the stockmarket's sanguine response to the bad news, Wall Street's conviction that this will be a swift, relatively mild, recession remains undented.

My question is: is the word 'boffin' meant as a derisive or otherwise derogatory term for scientific expert?