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"person engaged in innovative research," especially in aviation, 1945; earlier "elderly naval officer" (1941), probably from one of the "Mr. Boffins" of English literature (e.g. "Our Mutual Friend").
An expert, esp in a scientific or technical field: Computer boffins play a game called hunt the wumpus
[WWII British aviators; origin unknown; conceivably fr a humorous comparison between the laboratories and shops of experts and the enormous trash heaps of Mr and Mrs Boffin in Dickens's Our Mutual Friend]