Who you callin’ geek?

Here’s how Merriam-Webster defines the word geek.

geek: noun \gēk\

Definition of GEEK

1: a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake

2: a person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked

3: an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity

While the above definition the correct one, I’m not sure that it completely or accurately covers the modern accepted definition of the word. So let’s see if I can do a better job. has some interesting definitions, and although my favorite is “The people you pick on in high school and wind up working for as an adult”, that still doesn’t do the modern usage of the word justice. So let me take a crack at it.

To me, a geek is simply someone who with an above normal level of interest in a given subject, or an interest in a subject that is not mainstream.  Geeks generally like to share their love for a subject with others, even if they may not want to be shared with.  By that definition, you could assume that there’s different types of geeks, and you’d be right!  Computer geeks, comic book geeks, sci-fi geeks, anime geeks, math geeks and science geeks all help to populate the geek world. But I’m sure you’ve met a few other geek-types too, and you may not even know it. For example, are you the kind of person who has memorized every stat from every game for the past 20 years for your favorite football team? Then you, my friend, are a sports geek .

Geek, Nerd or Dork, what’s the difference?

As I’ve explained, Geek usually refers to someone who has a high level of interest in a particular subject, sometimes to an obsessive level.  Geeks usually have a fairly high level of intelligence and can generally operate quite well in social situations.

Nerds also exhibit high intelligence, and high levels of interest in one or more subjects.  Unlike geeks, nerds are generally lacking in social skills.  That’s not to say that they are rude, crass or mean, they are usually just a little to disconnected from reality to interact face to face with other people.

Dork is a purely derogatory term whereas geek and nerd can be used affectionately.  While your average dork may be just as obsessed with a subject as a geek or nerd, they generally have neither the intelligence, knowledge or social graces to earn any likeability, even among other dorks.  Dork’s social ineptitude surpasses that of the nerd to the level of being downright annoying and obnoxious.


Nerd Dork Geek Diagram from Great White Snark


I hope you’ve got a little better understanding of what it means to be a geek.  Treat a geek well, buy them a pizza and a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew, and they just might come by your house to fix your computer, hook up your new Television or help you get all of those CDs onto your new iPod.


About Todd E. Grady

I'm a dad, husband, IT guy and geek of all trades.

Posted on 10.11.2010, in GeekWord, General Geekery. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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