Geeks and nerds: debates over the difference resolved

Wren Lee, Staff Writer

Many people think nerds and geeks are interchangeable terms, but, in fact, they have vastly different definitions.


To properly define the difference, one must trace the history of the word.


According to Merriam-Webster, a geek is someone who is socially awkward and unpopular. The word originally meant a sideshow performer billed as the “wild boy” who did outrageous acts, including eating the heads off live chicken.


These days, geeks are not sideshow performers but are educated in one particular interest. They learn all they can in that topic and become experts. For example, people can be technology geeks.


On the other hand, the word nerd was first used by Dr. Seuss in If I Ran the Zoo to describe an oddball character in the zoo.


Currently, nerd is defined as an unstylish, unattractive or socially inept person according to Merriam-Webster.


Nerds are typically more antisocial compared to geeks; they prefer to keep to themselves. Geeks have normal social skills, but they may ramble about their interests.


Job wise, geeks go into a job that lets them indulge in their obsessions. Nerds are attracted to jobs in academia.


But for some like Coppell High School librarian Lynn Hevron, a geek is somebody related to technology while nerds are more about academics.


“A nerd is a more general academic term,” Hevron said. “They have passion or interest in learning and academics.”


Even after being told the difference, Hevron continued to stick by her original definition, stating technology as the main difference.


Geeks, by definition, follow their passions.


“In many ways, everybody is a geek,” CHS sophomore Georgina Bourbon said. “Everyone has a passion. For too many people, a geek can be a bad thing, but it’s something to be proud of.”


I am a geek, and I do not hide from this. I unabashedly adore books and anime. They are my passion.


But I am also a nerd. I hope to major in psychology and go into the world of academia.
It is possible to be a nerd as well as a geek. The two are not the same, but they are similar.