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In British slang an anorak // is a person who has a very strong interest, perhaps obsessive, in niche subjects. This interest may be unacknowledged or not understood by the general public. The term is sometimes used synonymously with geek or nerd, the Japanese term otaku, albeit referring to different niches.
In 1984 the Observer newspaper used the term as an alternative term for the prototype group interested in detailed trivia, the trainspotters, as members of this group often wore, by then very unfashionable, anoraks, when standing for hours on station platforms or along railway tracks, noting down details of passing trains.
The first use of the phrase to describe an obsessive fan has also been credited to the radio presenter Andy Archer, who used the term in the early 1970s for fans of offshore radio, who would charter boats to come out to sea to visit the radio ships.
Examples of usage
- Roy Cropper, a character from the popular British soap opera Coronation Street, is a stereotypical portrayal of an "anorak."
- Former British Prime Minister John Major, derided by many for perceived dullness, was described by Anthony Seldon as an "obsessive political anorak."
- Marillion titled their 12th studio album Anoraknophobia, referring to the long running in-joke that Marillion fans are sometimes called freaks or anoraks. The album cover, tour edition releases, and related press materials feature cartoon graphics of a boy wearing a rain parka, and holding a wire coat hanger by its hook. Inside the liner notes for the deluxe edition of the album, there is a photograph of each of the band members posed in a similar manner, and standing near a telephone box.
- In the 2011 Ernest Cline novel Ready Player One, "Anorak" is the name of James Halliday's avatar.
- Games, Alex (2007), Balderdash & piffle : one sandwich short of a dog's dinner, London: BBC, ISBN 978-1-84607-235-2
- Oxford Dictionaries: anorak, definition 2 Retrieved 2011-06-05
- Skues, Keith (2009). Pop Went the Pirates II. Horning: Lambs' Meadow Publications. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-907398-05-9.
- Seldon, Anthony. John Major: A Political Life. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1998.
- Marillion, Anoraknophobia. Racket Records, 2001. http://www.marillion.com/music/albums/anorak.htm
- Cline, Ernest (2011). Ready Player One. Random House. p. 54. ISBN 978-0307887443