The term "otaku" seems to have been introduced to anime fans in the US and other countries via Studio Gainax's "Otaku no Video 1985," a self-parody film.
Otaku, meaning probably "venerable house," refers to someone who has a devotion to a subject or hobby (not necessarily anime) to the point of not leaving home. For instance, an otaku fan of a particular movie star could quite possibly know all of the films s/he has been in, their birth date, time of birth, shoe size, favorite toothpaste, etc. Generally speaking, calling someone an otaku in Japan is an insult, implying that their social skills have atrophied or never even developed, due to their manic involvement in their chosen fandom.

In America, the term is used to denote a zealous fan, usually of anime and/or manga. Due to its introduction to most people's vocabulary through its tongue-in-cheek use in Gainax's film, "otaku" tends to have a much less dire definition overseas.

When dealing with Japanese people, however, it may be best to keep in mind the modern Japanese image of an otaku -- Someone who only leaves their home to eat or shop, if at all, with an overwhelming and unhealthy obsession about something. It can as easily refer to a stalker or sociopath as it can to a harmless anime buff.

Best to avoid the word altogether if one is not sure of the context in which it will be received.
Positive: "Oh, wow! Check it out: Neck-through, Floyd Rose locking tremolo and an optional push/pull coil tap!" (slaps forehead and laughs) "Man, I am such a guitar otaku, aren't I?"

Negative: "Stay clear of Toshi, man. He's such a RQ otaku, always online. Bet he's never actually even talked to a real-live girl before... You never know when he's gonna' snap, right?"
by Cobweb February 23, 2005
In Japan, the term OTAKU is normally deragatory, meant as an insult. It basically means 'lifeless loser who never leaves their house'.
In America and Canada, though, it is used to refer to anime/manga fans and sometimes video gamers. It is used to refer to somebody as a geek, opposed to a loser, and is not a deragatory meaning.
So it is important that if you go to Japan that you do not use the word without clearly stating what you mean.
Canadian: I could tell you ANYTHING about anime!
American: You are such an Otaku!
Candian: I know, right!
Japanese: Canadains and Americans are a little...odd...
by in-the-stars February 28, 2009
A person who spends most of his/her life watching anime, reading manga, playing video games, staying up on the computer and the such.
Most people would say that an Otaku would have no social life except for online communications.

B. The Japanese word for "House"
A.
Samantha: *types furiously without looking at keyboard and playing an MMO*
Elizabeth: *waiting for samantha to pick up phone*
Samantha: *talks to herself* "Sooorrryy Elizabeth, i'm kinda busy here!!! *says to self*: right-left-SPACEBAR!!! SPACEBAR!!! JUMP!! JUMP!! NOOO!!!! *still talking to self*: Yeah thanks a lot Elizabeth! You ruined my whole frikin game!
Elizabeth: *leaves a voice message* -sigh- Samantha, you're such an Otaku.

B.
Joe: I'm moving into an Otaku in Japan and going to college there next year.

Bob: You're moving into a crazed computer freak?!?!

Joe: -_-'
by SamanthaTehPwner July 10, 2008
Japanese word/adjective which roughly translates into "infatuated", "extreme fanatic", or "obsessed to the point of being borderline deranged."

mainly used to describe the Wapanese people who watch ridiculous amounts ofanime. they, in turn, will use the word to dsecribe themselves, as if they are actually proud of being otaku. they don't know that the word has a negative meaning to it.
1: I'm so otaku, I have all the latest Yu-Gi-Oh things, and I just bought the new Ayumi CD! So ureshii!

2: Jesus Christ...
by KRHimself September 03, 2004
Someone who is obbsessed, and has no life outside of their obbsession. It's an insult in Japan. Mostly said like "anime otaku". Someone who is obbsessed with Japanese animation.
Not all otaku are bad.
by C-chan November 06, 2003
One who obsesses about something or someone to an unhealthy extent, sacraficing most, if not all, of their social life.

Often used (incorrectly) by American anime fans as a trendy term to describe themselves.
Correct usage: anata wa otaku desu. (You are a nerd.)

Incorrect usage: I like anime, so I'm an otaku. (This is, however, correct if the person saying it has no life outside of anime.)
by Nosferatu June 20, 2003
a 12 year old that watches Bleach and Naruto and thinks they are completely immersed in japanese culture. See Weeaboo
Bob: I know all about japan because I watch Naruto!
Bill: no u are a weeaboo
Bob: No I'm otaku and proud
by sylveon November 24, 2013
This word is often misused by white nerds. Apparently they think that it means "Anime Fan". They are so grossly wrong. In reality it is the Japanese equivalent to nerd. In Japan the Otaku is the lowest social rung.
White Nerd: "I am an OtAkU!!!1111!!!!!1111"
Actually Japanese person: "I laugh at your obvious non-japaneseness"
by looeee-kun March 27, 2008

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