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back to article Yanks officially recognise the word 'boffin'

We're delighted to report that the word "boffin" has achieved the international recognition it so richly deserves, securing a spot on the Merriam-Webster "Top 10 Favorite British Words" list. And where better for Merriam-Webster to find an example of this magnificent term than on the pages of El Reg? The dictionary's website …

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Derogatory?

I haven't felt that geek was a derogatory term since the 90s. It's a term that suggests a certain level of intelligence and understanding of a subject that most of the world finds unfathomable. It's a title I proudly wear.

Boffin, likewise, denotes a person who is very intelligent and has knowledge far beyond that of mear mortals. If it's ever used in a derogatory sense then you should be laughing at the gormless prats with the audacity to misuse such an honorable term is such a way rather than feeling derided by them.

Just my two cents from a Merkin point of view.

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FAIL

@Asgard

I'm a comms specialist. I deal in low level protocol transmission over RF. I don't much give a shit what you do or how clever you think you are, but take some information on board here.

People don't look down on boffins, geeks or any other self-proclaimed subgroup. They look down on losers. And whining about your subgroup being badly treated is the single best way to get yourself identified as a loser.

I don't consider myself a geek, nerd or boffin. I'm me. Anyone who doesn't like can piss off.

Your erudition fails to impress, by the way. Poor wickle you.

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Re: Its no wonder America is falling behind in education...

Actually, the numbers you give are more a result of the welfare state than anything else. Most "students" see little point in struggling to learn or better themselves when they are planning on getting a gubmint check for the rest of their lives.

Until the merikans reverse their handout mentality, those scores will continue to plummet. Even requiring a diploma or GED for things like social assistance (or even getting a drivers license) would dramatically change the educational landscape.

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I've always thought "boffin" was always a little heroic.

Unsung heros, maybe, but heroes none the less.

"By Jove, I don't understand what those boffins at Bletchley Park are up to, but they're helping us win the war. Hats off, lads."

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sure would

it would make things worse

wise up! ffs

merka is far and away the shittest place in the first world (we are having a meeting, you are being moved to a group more inline with your skills... as soon as we can find one)

And the reason for this is your ridiculous adherance to out dated uber con 'I'm alright jack - fuck you' ideology.

Sadly the freefalling standards in you education system over the last 50 years mean that now you are as a nation to stupid to appreciate the link between the policies that underpin your way of life and how shite that way of life is.

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WTF?

Protest too much..

Remember what site you're on. Using cleverly written text to try and portray a higher level of intellect is, well, transparent.

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

By defending yourself so much, you're just opening yourself up to more abuse. I'm not having a go, just trying to help. If you think people are trolling, why rise to it?

Your original post just looked like the article hit a nerve, and you let hundereds of techies, scientists and engineers know that. I doubt that anyone on here hasn't been called a geek or boffin at some point!

And for my seconds quote:

"Chill Winstone!"

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Geek pride festivals?

Oh great! When's the next one? Can I bring my girlfriend?

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Alert

Oh dear me....a Scottish Person alert icon would be handy about now..

You can thank your lucky stars that they haven't started with the Scottish words of that ilk (similar to elk, but generally worn "inside" the kilt).

A selection:

Plook

Bampot

Bauchle

Teuchter

Nyaff

Muckle

Although sadly, none with an IT bent....(can you say that in public these days??)

Hoots mon, and get it right up ye!

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IT angle

"Many a mickle makes a muckle muckup"

referring to the situation when a number of small items overlooked conspire to generate one almighty problem at roll-out

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Anonymous Coward

Jiggery-pokery ...

... is from the Scots phrase "joukery-pawkery".

Don't suppose you know of a decent Scots-English dictionary do you? I find it a fascinating lanaguage.

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Happy

Scottish words

Indeed. I once found a list of such words/phrases (for a friend to use in a play), and it seemed like fully half of them were synonyms for 'idiot'. As in, for calling other people idiot. Teuchter is a very nice one - sort of means 'farmer' or 'yokel', right?

'Numpty' is pretty good, too. 'Bauchle' I've never heard. Although I'm reminded of my father's mother, who I swear would make up such words : "Oh look at that thing birling away on the roof!" (spinning rapidly?).

Oh, and especially good is "pochle" - meaning stuff you can legitimately steal, such as from the stationary cupboard at work.

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bauchle

commonly used with the word "tatty" as in: "oh dear you are a tatty bauchle, youve split the milk again"

yes, its another word for idiot!!

and yes birling is spinning rapidly. it can also be used as the name for a whirlygig.

Teuchter is usually reserved for those Scottish folk north of Perth. The ones that like sheep too much.....

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title

Would now be q good time to remind people that West Ham's reserve goalkeeper rejoices in the splendid name of Ruud Boffin?

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abbreviated present continuous

Of course boffin is a word. It comes from the verb to "boff" an activity that even scientists do.

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Not much cop as a dictionary

I just checked, they're still spelling 'colour' wrong.

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Headmaster

"...they're still spelling 'colour' wrong."

I think you'll find that they are spelling it either wrongly or (rather better here IMHO) incorrectly.

To have them "spelling it wrong" would require Merriam-Webster to go the extra mile and recognise Estuary English. Since it would appear that they've only just managed to get their heads around plain old English, I do not hold out too much hope for you there.

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As Noah Webster put it

There is no "u" in color, any more than there is in "harbor", though in the latter there is sometimes "t".

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<Pedant>

wrong?????

estury has is spelled

rong

</pedant>

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Troll

buoy

Now that's a word I wish you'd go ahead and take the 'u' out of. And you can give us back the aitch in herb while you're at it.

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3 people are stuck up prats with no sense of humo(u)r.

Oh come on, that was pretty funny.

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Really?

How do you know **we** got it wrong?

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Headmaster

'wrong' is an adverb, too

Now, don't get me wrong, but I think you're maligning Merriam-Webster, which is (IMO) the best English dictionary available free online. For example, you should be able to find their entry for 'wrong (adverb)' here:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wrong

...unless something goes wrong, of course.

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@Stephen Hunt - Dunno, but I'll give a good go...

Whilst no Boffin, and not Gormless but possibly a Prat, it pleases me, whilst I sip on a glass of Plonk, that our Merkin colleagues don't just Chunter along, allowing their language to become Knackered or Whinged about by over reliance on the increasingly Twee aspects of the same by exerting, through minimal Jiggery-pokery of their language reference, they ensure some degree of coherence with the Pukka English language.

There. Time for a sleep, now.

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Troll

Citation

Since when is an IT blog an adequate citation for a dictionary entry?

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Anonymous Coward

For a long time.

Many glossaries and thesauri include examples taken from real world writings. The idea is to give the reader a better idea of how the selected word is used in context. So as far as realisic usage is concerned an "IT blog" is just as useful a source of quotes as anything else (provided the author uses the word correctly.) The quotations I've seen have all been taken from books and newspapers, including the online variant.

Also, El Reg tends to have a more colo(u)rful writing style that makes it more relevant to this type of list.

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The technical name for this is a "corpus".

Basically, a corpus is a big sample of spoken and written English (or any other language you prefer). It allows dictionary makers to look up words, and see how they're used in real life. Many dictionaries and institutions have their own corpuses. For example, here's the British National Corpus's entries for the word "boffin".

http://corpus.byu.edu/bnc/x3.asp?xx=1&w11=boffin&r=

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Good to see our colonial cousins catching up...!!

The OED has had "boffin" for a while now :

boffin

n noun British informal a person engaged in scientific or technical research.

ORIGIN

Second World War: of unknown origin.

P.

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Well done

The Reg and all you working there deserve the recognition.

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Happy

Speak too soon?

They are already working on 'mobe'

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Troll

Chunter

not to be confused with the antipodean word "chunder", which means to vomit.

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Missing one vital word

Plonker.

How about Twit?

Are all those who Twitter, Twits?

Ok, I'll get me coat

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Happy

Pukka!

I remember confusing both my US and German work counterparts when I used the word "pukka", when we got a little DB problem sorted out. Having to explain what it meant stumped me for a few seconds when they asked me!

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jiggery-pokery

Also a rather amusing song by The Lewis Duckworth Method:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oreIJPk65Iw

It was jiggery pokery, trickery, chokery,

how did he open me up,

Robbery, muggery,

Aussie skull-duggery,

Out for a buggering duck,

What a delivery,

I might as well have been,

holding a concert bassoon,

Jiggery Pokery who was this nobody

making me look a buffoon

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About time...

Boffin has only been about since the 40's! Well done Rik. Bardzo dobry.

And I thought a twee was what Jonathon Ross had growing in the garden.

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I stand to be corrected on this...

but in common use in our family and in this area of England I have always understood the word chunter to mean "to grumble under one's breath", rather than to denote movement in some way, although I suspect that - like grumble - it could be used expressively: as in, "the overloaded train grumbled up the long hill to the summit"

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Yep.

And that's pretty much how Merriam-Webster defines it:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/top-ten-lists/top-10-favorite-british-words/chunter.html

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Fun with lingusistics

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

Silly buffalo.

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Welcome

I, for one, welcome..

...our Brit slang wielding, Dictionary-filling overlords.

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Welcome

To our glorious linguistic leaders

We salute you!

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<pedant>

They've spelled gaumless wrong

Gaumless - (British informal) lacking intelligence and vitality. · stupid - lacking or marked by lack of intellectual acuity ...

</pedant>

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Go

@Blubster

I presume you mean Gormless.

Why can't the English pronounce the letter "r"?

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: @Blubster

Gaumless is simply a (currently less favoured) alternative spelling of gormless. Both are pronounced ɡɔːmlɪs, so the "r" has bugger all to do with it, as far as I can see.

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I think you mean

Why do the Yanks over-stress all their Rs?

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IT Angle

Why do the Yanks over-stress all their Rs?

No, that's not correct. Spanners was nearer the truth. Most English speakers in England and Wales (also our antipodean brethren) do not pronounce an 'r' sound before a consonant. Pronouncing the 'r' in 'farm' makes you sound like a farmer, no?

But this phenenomenon is well-documented, uncontentious, and has no IT angle that I can think of.

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emf

But, how do you pronounce "leccy?"

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leccy

Rhymes with recce. Or trekkie.

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One last point

Why would we Merkins want to use "twee"? It seems about as useful in the American context as a baseball glove to a soccer player. They are enclaves of twee here I suppose, but it seems to take a very low spot among our many oddities.

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Alright, nice to see "twee" in there...

...although I've already heard it used over here for a number of years, usually by pop music critics describing one band or another whose style recalls "twee '60s sunshine pop".

I've also always rather liked "knackered", although I'm surprised to see that "wanker" and/or "tosser" haven't made the list, especially as "wanker" has also been popular over here for a while; I'd have definitely taken "wanker" or "tosser" over "chunter" (wha...?).

...and, where's "chuffed"? That's a great one, too...

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Devil

Onanism...

...still isn't a topic for discussion in the mainstream media, so "wanker" wouldn't have been a good choice for Merriam-Webster's little PR exercise.

It is, of course, in the dictionary:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wanker

Bootnote: Early episodes of 'Mork and Mindy' (written, I guess, before they tried to flog the series abroad) featured Mindy's landlord and landlady - Mr and Mrs Wanker. They seem to have simply been written out of later episodes, which was hard luck on the actors, I guess.

Spawn of Satan icon because 'spawn' is something like 'semen'. Almost.

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