D&A Breakdown: Nerd vs. Geek!

If you were born during the 80’s and 90’s or even went to middle or high school during that time, then somewhere down the line you might have heard of these terms before. There are so many stereotypes associated with these two terms, and although there are a lot of similarities between them, Geeks and Nerds are totally different. If you don’t believe us, then allow us to break it down for you.


What is a Nerd?

Let’s look at the definition of the word Nerd. A Nerd is an individual who is solely devoted to academics, literature, math, and science. They’re socially awkward, boring, studious, and dress like Steve Urkel from Family Matters. (And are really skilled in Tech Support as well as computers.) Like Otaku, Nerd is a stereotypical term that puts individuals who fit that category as unattractive or unpopular, but just like the word ‘Otaku’, we have redefined and popularized that meaning into something great and wonderfully unique!

The origins of the word can trace as far back as the 1950’s, with Dr. Seuss’s book If I Ran the Zoo. One year later it’s slang meaning was reported on Newsweek due to the popular usage of the term. By the 60’s the word spread as far as Scotland and even took on connotations of social ineptitude, or someone who was a book worm. By the 70’s the word was heavily used in the hit sitcom Happy Days, I wish we could tell you when it was used in which episode(s), but we weren’t born back then. XP

Stereotypically, Nerds (especially males) were seen as either skinny or fluffy, and being in a state known as “hyperwhite”; rejecting the use of Afro-American slang (ebonics) or other terms that the “cool” kids are using. After the release of Revenge of the Nerds and of course the appearance of Steve Urkel from Family Matters (as seen above), Nerds have become multicultural and have various ethnic backgrounds. Nerds have done A LOT of this country, and if you don’t believe us, just google up “Famous Nerds in America”!


What is a Geek?

As we mentioned before there are similarities between Geeks and Nerds, but like we’ve also mentioned before, the two terms are totally different. A Geek is an individual with eccentric or non-mainstream tastes. The term connotes with someone who is an expert or an enthusiast or (get ready for it) someone who is obsessed with a subject or hobby for its own sake! (That means comic books, manga books, anime, video games, etc.) The origins of the word come from the English dialect ‘geck’ or ‘geek’, which meant ‘fool’ or ‘freak’ in German. In the 18th and 19th century the term was used to describe a circus performer in a traveling circus, but overtime the word took on a much different meaning though it still had it’s derogatory sting.

Since the rise of technology, Geeks have been at the forefront and have helped launch a lot of technology-oriented businesses, as well as become a major asset to organizations all over the world. It’s noted that Mark Roeder’s book Unnatural Selection: Why The Geeks Will Inherit The Earth, that the high-tech world is quite favorable for geeks or individuals with geek-like traits. (Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, etc.) Also since the mid 2000’s the “Geek Chic” trend made it cool and fashionable to wear geek apparel.

Both Nerds and Geeks have had it rough during the middle and high school years. Both were picked on or bullied, both were laughed at by girls, and both weren’t invited to any of the cool kids parties. However over the years both terms have been stripped of their derogatory meaning and classification, and has turned into something filled with pride. If both terms are associated with popular culture in today’s modern age, then what’s the difference between the two? Nerds are more into academics (like math and science) than Geeks. Geeks are knowledgeable about Marvel, DC, Anime, Manga, and Video Games than Nerds. Some are even hybrids of the two terms; like a ‘Neek’ or a ‘Gerd’.

We know this filler post was a bit of a mouthful to swallow, but hopefully we explained the difference between a Geek and a Nerd. Both have similarities, both have differences, but both have a massive impact on the world.