Word boffin Susie Dent backs the Daily Star using the word… boffin.
Countdown’s Dictionary Corner queen would be quite happy to be described as one as she reckons it’s a compliment.
It comes after boffins and boffinesses called for us to stop using it and splurged thousands of pounds beaming their Bin The Boffin campaign slogan on our London HQ.
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They reckon the term suggests brainiacs are oddballs.
But lexicographer Susie says: “I think it used to mean somebody who was a bit of a nerd and involved in obscure stuff.
“But now it definitely has that sense you might have great skill or knowledge in a difficult area, so I think it has got that positive sense.
“It’s a quick and easy shorthand and I don’t see it as being particularly critical.
“I wouldn’t mind being called a word boffin, and maybe you could call me an expert as well in the second breath and then I’d be very happy.”
Susie, 58, is Countdown’s longest-serving presenter, notching up an incredible 31 years as the show’s resident word expert.
She says: “I used to say it was just me and the clock left and then the clock was replaced.
“I do still love it, I still get a thrill when I’m sitting there, I still feel the adrenaline every time the clock starts going round.
“I’ll be there for as long as the viewers will have me.”
But Susie is hoping there will not be an AI robot in Dictionary Corner any time soon.
“I hope Countdown would never use AI,” she says. “It is such a family show and such a human show. So I would hope that couldn’t be replicated by AI.
“But in terms of the mental challenges, who knows? That’s not somewhere I would love it to go.”
The show is hosted by Colin Murray, who took over from Anne Robinson. She quit last July after admitting she demanded the mics of Susie and maths expert Rachel Riley were turned off while she talked to contestants.
Susie says: “I first met Colin in his Radio 1 days, and in the first two minutes of our conversation he said to me, ‘I would give up everything to present Countdown’ because he has loved it from the start.
“He’s like this excited puppy. He is incredibly competitive, so he’s hosting but at the same time he’s trying to work out the maths or come up with the longest word.”
Susie is also known for her word of the day on Twitter.
On July 31 – the same day PM Rishi Sunak announced further North Sea oil and gas extraction – it was snollygoster, meaning “one who abandons their principles for short-term gain or power”.
She says: “They’re not exclusively topical but I think it’s quite easy to guess which ones are. People just run with it and I love that.”
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