• anorak •
æ-nê-ræk • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. (British) A warm, fur-lined weatherproof parka, possibly hooded; windcheater. 2. (British slang) A nerd, a boring git, someone so preoccupied with a particular field of interest as to be boring.
Notes: Here is a word I've never heard in America, but which occurs often in the British films I watch. Because it is such a phonetic oddity in English, it cannot have progeny until folk-etymologized. However, anorakish and anoraky may be used to refer to anything related or similar to a nerd. Don't forget the final [k] sound is NOT spelled CK.
In Play: Today's word usually refers to a piece of winter clothing: "The bank robber wore an anorak similar to Robin Banks's, which led to his being intensely questioned by the police." However, it has recently picked up a slang sense of "socially inept nerd": "Ann Howe is such a cellphone anorak, she makes conversation difficult."
Word History: Today's Good Word was taken from German, which took it from Greenlandic Inuit (Eskimo) annoraaq, inherited from Proto-Inuit atnuraaq "clothing", which also went into the making of Canadian Inuktitut annoraat "clothing". This is where the trail ends since Inuit languages have only had a writing system since the late 19th century. So, there is no paper trail. In the 1980s anorak began being used to refer to trainspotters who usually wore anoraks while spotting. This sense quickly expanded to any nerd whose mindset focus prevented him or her from developing social graces. (Now let's thank longtime contributor Tony Bowden of London for spotting the interest in today's unusual Good Word and sharing.)
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