Nerd

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Dr. Goodword
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Nerd

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:17 pm

• nerd •


Pronunciation: nêrd • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A person lacking social skills and boringly conventional. 2. A geek, dweeb, wonk; someone dedicated—if not obsessed—by a highly technical field, especially computer programming. (Someone who knows more about computers than you do.)

Notes: This is a playfully derogatory term that is applied to people we usually feel sorry for. They seem happy to curl up inside some highly technical specialty. Popular back in the 60s and 70s, this word has created a rich family of related words. It provides us with two adjectives: nerdy "like a nerd", and nerdish "somewhat like a nerd". These two adjectives have generated two nouns: nerdiness and nerdishness. We can't ask for more than that.

In Play: The primary characteristic of nerds is that they prefer studying over partying: "Les Hyde is such a nerd that his nose is always in a book all the time—even on weekends!" But the word has built up steam with the advent of the personal computer: "I give up with this computer! Do you know a computer nerd I can call?"

Word History: This Good Word was a fixture of US student slang in the 60s and 70s. It came from Nerd, a fictional animal in the children's story If I ran the Zoo (1950) by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel). Nerd is depicted as a small, unkempt, humanoid creature with a large head and a funny expression of disapproval. Where Dr. Seuss got it is anybody's guess. I think it could have been influenced by Mortimer Snerd, the goofy dummy featured with ventriloquist Edgar Bergen (father of Candice). Bergen was popular in the 40s and 50s, so Dr. Seuss was bound to have been familiar with him and his characters. (Now we have to thank word nerd Andrew Rowland for being reminded of this word when geek was the Good Word.)
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Slava
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Re: NERD

Postby Slava » Tue Mar 09, 2021 5:48 pm

I propose a slight change to definition 2. Given that the ideological originator of this word of the day is referred to as a word nerd, perhaps it should read;

A geek, dweeb, wonk; someone dedicated to, or more versed in (in comparison to the speaker), something.
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Re: Nerd

Postby David Myer » Thu Mar 11, 2021 12:43 am

I do like the Good Doctor's "someone who knows more about computers than you do".

I may have explained before on this site, but that reminds me of Kingsley Amis' definitions of burk and wanker (The Kings English)

A Burk is someone who doesn't speak as well as oneself

A Wanker is someone who thinks he speaks better.

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Re: Nerd

Postby bbeeton » Thu Mar 11, 2021 1:45 pm

Minority opinion here.

I confess to being a nerd, being rather well versed in a somewhat esoteric computer language for typesetting math. But I am *not* a geek, being relatively innocent about the subject of what makes a computer actually work. So "someone who knows more about computers than you do" to me is a geek.

Thus I contend that "nerd" is not identical to "geek".

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Re: Nerd

Postby David Myer » Thu Mar 11, 2021 7:24 pm

Excellent point bbeeton. I suspect not a minority opinion at all. So, a car mechanic might be a geek, but a nerd takes an interest in all the performance stats and no doubt can quote endlessly on the time it takes for all the different sports cars to go from stationary to 100.

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damoge
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Re: Nerd

Postby damoge » Fri Mar 12, 2021 12:54 pm

Very useful and succinct differentiation of words I think most of us use instinctively in that way.
Thanks!!!
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Re: Nerd

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Mar 12, 2021 1:02 pm

Some place here in town which sells computers, has its
repair crew called the "Geek Squad", and the trucks they
travel in have it in large letters on their sides.
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call_copse
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Re: Nerd

Postby call_copse » Mon Mar 15, 2021 2:05 pm

Some place here in town which sells computers, has its
repair crew called the "Geek Squad", and the trucks they
travel in have it in large letters on their sides.
Us real geeks are somewhat unimpressed by these squads' knowledge, when we find the need to employ them ;-)
Iain

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Re: Nerd

Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Mar 15, 2021 5:49 pm

:P
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