Geek vs Nerd
About the Geeks vs Nerds Debate
What is the difference between a geek and a nerd and how would you define the two? We attempt to answer these crucial questions in the geek vs nerd discussion below (which you are welcome to join).
Both words have interesting origins and while they have been used as insults in the past, they seem to be losing the negative connotations nowadays. In fact, a lot of people proudly call themselves nerds or geeks, usually implying that they're smart, intelligent and knowledgeable in one field or another. I view this as a positive change since I think it says a lot of things about our society and culture when a word for a smart person has a derogatory meaning, or when kids get bullied in schools for getting good grades.
Feel free to jump right into the discussion below, or scroll down to the geek and nerd definitions and other information to read up on the subject first.
Geek vs Nerd Discussion
How would you define the two terms? Are geeks or nerds cooler?
Geeks - here's what I think!
Geeks are often seen as people interested in newest tech and gadgets, computers, movies, anime, sci-fi & fantasy, roleplaying, gaming, and similar hobbies - as opposed to nerds, who are more into academical subjects like maths and physics. On the other hand, geeks are also often thought of as having better social skills than nerds and knowing more stuff that can be applied in real life rather than some obscure knowledge - in other words, geeks are cooler than nerds.
Others still take an opposite view and think of geeks as "losers" who dress up like Stormtroopers or have a huge collection of superhero figures. There are many different opinions since it's just slang - that's why we have the discussion on this page.
Wikipedia defines geek as "a peculiar or otherwise odd person, especially one who is perceived to be overly obsessed with one or more things including those of intellectuality, electronics, and so on". Go to Wiktionary to see more geek definitions.
According to a popular opinion, nerds are usually somewhat socially inept people with above-average IQ who are interested in one field of knowledge, sometimes to the point of obsession. Students who get good grades in school for subjects like mathematics or physics are often called nerds - but so are trivia buffs who know a lot of information considered "useless" by their peers.
A nerd might pay a lot of attention to small details thought unimportant by others and experiment with things purely out of academic interest without gaining any benefit. He or she would more often be seen playing chess or solving sudoku rather than reading webcomics or attending fantasy conventions. Some view nerds as people who are more knowledgeable than geeks and are simply fanatical about their subject while having little regard for anything else (including socializing with others).
Wikipedia says that a nerd is "a person who passionately pursues intellectual activities, esoteric knowledge, or other obscure interests rather than engaging in more social or popular activities". See more nerd definitions on Wiktionary.
Differences Between Geeks and Nerds
So having said all that, what are the actual differences between nerds and geeks (if there are any in the first place)?
- Are geeks the "techies" (fans of new technology, gadgets and computers) while nerds are the academic people (doing mathematics, physics & hard science)?
- Is it true that geeks know how to apply their knowledge in real life while nerds simply know a lot of cool, but "useless" facts?
- Are geeks more self-oriented whereas nerds are interest-oriented?
- Are geeks less obsessed about their subject than nerds? Do they have a broad knowledge of several subjects while nerds have a deep and specific knowledge of their own field only?
- Is it true that geeks are more adept in social situations than nerds, or perhaps it is the other way round?
- Maybe the terms "geek" and "nerd" have already become synonyms?
There can be many opinions on the subject, as it usually is with slang or jargon. The words can have different meanings depending on the location and the social circle you are in. So please stay nice when expressing your opinions in the discussions and the comments here, because others might have completely opposite views than you do!
At any rate, I think no one will object that both geeks and nerds are these weird creatures who would stay up most of the night tweaking and tinkering with something just to see how it works - simply out of curiosity or for their amusement and without having any kind of benefit from it besides knowledge. I also think one has to be a geek or a nerd to actually make a page discussing these two words.
Geeks vs Nerds Links
Visit these for more information on this fascinating topic:
- Slackpropagation offers an interesting and detailed analysis of the two terms using data gathered from Twitter. It has charts, too!
- Geek Test from innergeek is the original quiz to see how geeky you are.
- Nerd Quiz gives you your nerd score and a nice badge, too.
- Geek Code lets you encode information about yourself.
- WikiHow teaches how to tell the difference between nerds and geeks.
- xkcd has a comic strip on the geeks vs nerds issue.