Posted by Masakim on November 19, 2001 at

In Reply to: Boffin posted by capable wingnut on November 19, 2001

: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000 says:

: Chiefly British Slang A scientist, especially one engaged in research.

: The Best of British

: The American's guide to speaking British says:

: Boffin - This is the word for a nerd. Usually male, a boffin would be highly intelligent, have no dress sense and probably grow up to be a mad scientist or an HTML programmer!

: and I also found an appalling limerick:

: There once was an eccentric old boffin,
: Who remarked, in a fine fit of coughing:
: 'It isn't the cough
: That carries you off,
: But the coffin they carries you off in.'

boffin. Usually _the boffins_, the inventors working for the advancement of aviation: R.A.F. Dating since before the war of 1939-45, it > gen. in the Services only in 1944 (W/Cdr Robin P. McDouall, letter of March 27, 1945). A fanciful name of the Lewis Carroll type, yet with a glance at 'baffle' (the bafflings = the baffling fellows = those who baffle the enemy) and perhaps at 'The Boffin Books' -- a delightful series for children. --2. In the Navy, any officer over 40 years of age: since ca. 1940. Granville.
From _A Dictionary of Slang, 7th Edition_, Vol. 2 by Eric Partridge

boffin n. [1940s+] any form of scientic expert, orig. those RAF scientists who were working on radar. [ety. unknown, although according to Robert Watson-Watt (1892-1973), the inventor of radar, the term 'has something to do with an obsolete type of aircraft called the Baffin [Blackburn Baffin, a torpedo bomber --note by masakim], something to do with that odd bird, the Puffin' (_Three Steps to Victory_, 1957)
From Cassell's Dictionary of Slang by Jonathon Green

A band of scientific men who performed their wartime wonders at Malvern and apparently called themselves 'the boffins'. (_The Times_, 1945)

Although 'boffin' isn't really an offensive name, it sounds bad and makes us feel like we're not human -- believe me, we are! So even though we may get ten out of ten at school, please treat us normally. OK?! (letter from an 11-year-old reader, _The Times_, 1999)