My definition, which was correct was removed by biased peoples. Oh well. Here I go again.

In Japan the word Otaku is a label that is quite bad. Most Japanese people would not want to be considered an otaku.
In America, however, we have morphed the word as we always do to our own meaning. There is nothing wrong with this. Over in America it means "to be a big fan of", and really doesn't have a bad meaning, as it would in Japan.

As such, you wouldn't want to go to Japan and start saying how much of an Otaku you are. In America this is fine, and probably in Canada as well. However, alot of people here seem to forget that they are saying what the Japanese interpret it as. Most people that read this hail from North America where the definition has a fairly benign meaning.

I rest my case.
Japan: Ugh, he's so disgusting... must be a anime otaku.

North America: Dude, you are totally a hardcore Otaku!
by brian clemens February 09, 2005
Japanese: An insulting word meaning someone who is completely obsessed with something. They are the type that generally live in their parents' basements at 30 years old and have no social life.

English: A term meaning someone very into anime/manga/Japanese culture. It can be taken as either a compliment or an insult, depending on the recipient (I take it as a compliment, for example).
J: Man, that otaku needs a bath, he's been in his basement for a week without one.

E: Wow, look at all these otaku at the convention, dressed like their favorite characters! They're having so much fun!
by Sailor KnightWing April 27, 2004
Otaku in japanese is used primarily to describe someone who is obsessed with something to the point of un-healthiness. They lose their grip on reality so to speak. 'Gun-Otaku,' one who is obsessed with guns. 'porn-otaku,' one obsessed with porn. so on and so forth. The american meaning, maybe its used else where to...I dunno. any way, otaku over here is someone who likes anime a wwhhoollee lot, though they normally lead a normal life (unlike jap. otaku). Not really a bad term, though many see it as such.
No example. Its self explanitory.
by Kiwi Lord July 01, 2003
William Gibson, one of the originators of the 'cyberpunk' science fiction genre, used the term "otaku" in his 1996 novel "Idoru". The meaning given, from a Japanese-translation computer function used by a character, was 'pathological techno-fetishist with social deficit'. The character so described spent much of his time online in a multi-user domain and subsisted on Ramen-type noodles and canned coffee. Although by Japan's rigorous social standards a "loser", the character was well-mannered and good-hearted.
"The otaku guys at my last school were into, like, plastic anime babes, military simulations, and trivia. Bigtime into trivia." -"Idoru", William Gibson
by Heather Cruikshank October 10, 2005
Originally the Japanese term for "house (more specifically, your house" in the honorific form of the language, made by adding the prefix "o-" to the word for house "taku." It can also be used as an honorific second-person pronoun.

Today, the word has taken on a different meaning: it refers to a person who has had or is in the middle of having an intense hobby, which is usually added before the word itself. See the example below (1).

The connotation of the term varies in relation to the speaker and how much said speaker knows about the actual context in which it should be used. Especially common among American fans, an otaku is simply a very devoted follower (2). However, the word has a harsher, more negative connotation in Japanese. It is a term that refers to the receiver of the description is a very reclusive, sociopathic person who has a severe addiction to any form of media and (in some cases) will rarely, if ever, leave his or her house to meet minimal living requirements or obtain more of said media (hence the term otaku derived from its original meaning refering to a house)(3). It is not to be confused with the term "hikikomori," or a person/people who has/have withdrawn from society. It is a dire insult, especially to those who do not actually fit the category of otaku.

Otaku (plural) are generally looked down upon in Japanese society, constantly derided for their passions. These insults may or may not have a penny's worth of truth, but they base themselves in preconceived notions of how previous people of obsession have acted. The otaku do receive a lot of scorn from their fellow peers, and hate crimes against them are not all that uncommon (4). Nevertheless, the word is not completely negative. For example, the largest anime/manga/East Asian convention in the United States is named "Otakon", and there is also the American-based "A-kon" (5). Several people worldwide have made attempts to remove its negative connotation, but have not been completely successful.
(1) Coinage
anime otaku, manga otaku

(2) American Usage, two boys
"I haven't left my room for days, I'm totally addicted to One Piece."
"Dude, you're a total otaku."
"Yeah, right?"

(3) Japanese Usage, one girl approaching a boy; the girl is stopped by a group of her peers who reprimand her advance
"Hey, you might want to stay away from that guy. He's an otaku."
(This comment is usually followed by sounds and/or remarks made by the new girl and/or the group itself.)
"Like the hikikomori type?"
"Nah, he actually leaves his house to buy groceries."

(4) Mention of hate crimes against said person/people
"In 1989, a man named Tsutomu Miyazaki became known as 'The Otaku Murderer' for his crimes which specifically targeted otaku."

(5) Two people mentioning Otakon
"Hey, are you goin' to Otakon this weekend?"
"Hell yeah, I'mma be outa money by Sunday! You?"
"Wish. I gotta lot of make-up work for 'being sick' during that last convention."
by Flashtirade February 09, 2009
Japanese word meaning obsessive fan of anything.Somewhat derogatory meaning that you put your interest above all else. Westerners tend to use it without the derogatory connotations. Rather, an otaku is someone who is a dedicated fan of anime and/or manga.
Example? Example? Example?
by Liam March 02, 2005
A negative Japanese word meaning 'nerd,' which anime-lovers have embraced and turned into a positive word defining a person who likes anime.

However, anime-lovers sometimes tend to cross the line, falling deeply into otaku characteristics themselves.
1. That kid's such an otaku; all he ever talks about is Dragon Ball Z and video games.
2. Dude, have you seen Naruto? Oh I love anime! I'm a total anime otaku! Kawaii!
by Chii April 30, 2004

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