Nerd vs Geek
Every high school has them, the jocks, the popular kids, the stoners, the nerds, and the geeks. These stereotypes emerged in the 1940’s and 1950’s and have been going strong ever since. It is considered by some to be an insult to be called a nerd or a geek. Others embrace that title with pride. As more and more people embrace their inner nerd or geek, firm distinctions have arisen between the two terms. Today, people who consider themselves to be geeks take offence at the term nerd, and quite often vice versa as well.
Etymology of Nerd and Geek
Nerd ‘“ was first seen in print in 1950, as a nonsense word in Dr. Seuss’s book If I Ran a Zoo. After that it was used as a synonym for the social category of square for about ten years. It then came to be associated with bookishness, fashion blindness, and social ineptitude.
Geek ‘“ originally came from the Middle English meaning freak and has similar roots in German and Dutch. It then migrated to the United States and was often used to describe carnival performers. For a time it had a similar meaning to nerd, but in the past decade or so it has morphed into a more positive connotation.
Definition of Nerd and Geek
Nerd ‘“ today nerd means someone who is so completely obsessed with academic or other esoteric pursuits that standard social norms, such as courtesy, hygiene, and conversation fall by the wayside.
Geek ‘“ refers to someone who enjoys and extensively purses a single area of study with great interest and energy. While nerds often confine themselves to technology or science fiction, geeks range from computers, to music, to film, to videogames, and back again.
Stereotypical Images of Nerds and Geeks
Nerd ‘“ the image of the nerd was codified in such 1980’s television shows as movies as Revenge of the Nerds and Family Matters. Nerds show no regard for their dress and often wear ill-fitting clothes that are mismatched and out of style. Nerds typically have large glasses, braces, and bad haircuts. Despite their close relationship to academia, they aren’t found in traditional Oxbridge attire; that would be too cool.
Geek ‘“ today are often found flaunting their geekhood. There is a huge market for t-shirts that are specifically tailored for geeks with such phrases as ‘sucks syntax,’ ‘hello, my name is Inigo Montoya,’ and ‘Schradinger’s cat is dead.’ Geeks will often also sport heavy framed glasses and cardigans with elbow patches, but in an ironic fashion.
1. While geeks are nerds were originally both derogatory terms meant to imply someone spends too much time with books and not enough time with people, geeks have embraced their image and made smart cool.
2. Nerds are still considered hopelessly inept in social situations, but geeks will often bond together in homogenous groups based on mutual interest.
3. Nerds are generally concentrated in science, technology, and science fiction, but geeks cover almost any specialized topic.