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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 definitions of geek and nerd 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?

People with hobbies like gaming or watching sci-fi are frequently called geeks.

People with hobbies like gaming or watching sci-fi are frequently called geeks.

Geek Definition

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.

People good at academic subjects are often called nerds.

People good at academic subjects are often called nerds.

Nerd Definition

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.

The nerd stereotype is prevalent in cartoons and movies.

The nerd stereotype is prevalent in cartoons and movies.

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.

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.


Robert Levine from Brookline, Massachusetts on January 07, 2015:

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Don't forget that "geek" originally meant someone with a bizarre appearance, as in a "circus geek" in a freak show. Bob Dylan uses this meaning in the song "Ballad of a Thin Man" (1965): "You hand in your ticket, and you go watch the geek ..." I don't know how it shifted to its contemporary meaning.

Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer from Hedgesville, WV on December 28, 2013:

funny, what about geekettes? Hello!

chft55 lm on July 15, 2012:

Great topic choice! I like how you used the debate module.

Kim from Yonkers, NY on July 13, 2012:

Love the lens. I'm inclding it on my next update (in a few days to a week) on my Favorite lenses lens & trying to figure out another one of mine to add it to. (just not sure what it would work with)

EpicFarms on July 13, 2012:

What a fun lens; it appears I am a nerd (based largely upon the tremendous amount of "useless trivia" contained between my ears ;o)

Bonfire Designs on July 12, 2012:

I'm a geek about nerds LOL, cool lens.

Heidi Vincent from GRENADA on July 12, 2012:

Ha ha ha. I like jaredtheleo's explanation! Then maybe I an both geek and nerd!

Shinkarom on May 18, 2012:

Good lens. I'd like to recommend to add here George Takei's definition for geek, nerd and dork. It is called "George Takei's Geek Hierarchy"

jaredtheleo on May 10, 2012:

Geeks are like design people while nerds are the programmers.

Geeks are more likely to be president while nerds are the counsel.

Geeks are the ones who came up with the idea for Viagra, nerds made it happen.

Fcuk Hub on April 13, 2012:

Sometimes I think that geeks will rule the world :)

iPadGeek on January 03, 2012:

Super lens! Geek it is ;)

anonymous on December 17, 2011:

And I think both geeks and nerds are losers and im proud of saying that HA !

homerepellent on October 15, 2011:

I'm a nerd and I'm proud of it.



MinRu on September 03, 2011:

I think everyone one of us is related, whether it is a geek or a nerd. And it is the special talent in us that connect between all of us with the others. Nevertheless, geek and nerd are part of the society. What are we without them?

anonymous on August 17, 2011:

Having come to read this page and actually read through it in such detail, I think we are a whole genuine bunch of geeky nerds (or nerdy geeks) =D

AngelDey on August 15, 2011:

Yeah after reading this, I still say nerd is better. ;)

anonymous on July 06, 2011:

@anonymous: Agreed, the 'normal' guys really need to find some serious purposes in life. I'm a nerd and I'm proud of it.

Kasandra on June 11, 2011:

I wish more people knew the difference between geek in nerd! I think I'm more on the geeky side. (:

anonymous on April 19, 2011:

I think, It´s better to be one of them then a ,,normal´´ student, who only drinks and sports and has fun and later has a boring job and a little money, isn´t it?

anonymous on April 14, 2011:

I think I am a combination of the two- a neek? Or a gerd? Being that I have a naturally higher IQ than most people, and the fact that I can socialize pretty well, means I have the best probability of achieving the greatest possible lifestyle possible :D

deified on March 26, 2011:

oh, this lens has me rolling!!!! great idea! i couldn't relate very well tho, being a DORK myself....;) thanks for the lens.

dulitha on February 10, 2011:

This Debate is great! I definitely like to be a geek!

jennikitten lm on January 17, 2011:

Fab idea for a lens and very well written.

Sheilamarie from British Columbia on December 28, 2010:

I like the fact that these names are no longer used to merely ridicule someone. No one should be ridiculed for being who they are.

BrickHouseFabrics on December 25, 2010:

I don't think people get called nerd as much today as they did in the '60's. But one certainly hears of geeks!

LouisaDembul on December 16, 2010:

It seems to me that a lot of us people on Squidoo have a touch of "geekiness" or "nerdiness" !! And being proud of it as well!!

glowchick on December 15, 2010:

Very interesting... I did not know there was such a contrast.

javr from British Columbia, Canada on December 10, 2010:

Let's remove the stigma from both words. Blessed by a Squid Angel.

Kiwisoutback from Massachusetts on November 04, 2010:

Geek seems a little less socially acceptable as a word, whereas you could have some cool "nerds." If geek means techy and nerd means someone who wastes time playing video games and reading comic books, I was a definite nerd!

anonymous on October 24, 2010:

Geek or Nerd?

Me? I'm a "GEE-ERD" or short 'Gerd'

I've been assimilated into the 21st way of life.

Think about it,

we are all participating on a website called, "SQUIDOO"

Pretty "Geeky-Nerdy" to me! aka 'GERD'


Othercatt on October 22, 2010:

My husband always calls me a geek but by your definition, I'm a nerd. I'll make sure to correct him next time! Great lens!

ArdenBaird LM on October 17, 2010:

By these definitions I am a nerd.

irenemaria from Sweden on October 14, 2010:

I am neither- Just a modern Grama =)

AWildDog on October 13, 2010:

By those definitions... I'm both and I'm cool with that. I'm proud of that.

Maurice Glaude from Mobile on October 07, 2010:

I'm either neither or both! ----wow spoken like a true Libra. The scales haunt me.

thesuccess2 on October 06, 2010:

Now you've set me off am I geek or nerd!!

garethjax lm on October 06, 2010:

Well, i'm geek for sure, i'm an SEO!

anonymous on October 04, 2010:

cool lens,liked it!

Mrmakingusmile LM on September 29, 2010:

I'm definitely a geek. Techonology and management of tech people keeps my geekiness at a high level. I manage 22 geeks. Whoo Hoo!

sartist on September 22, 2010:

@anonymous: symptoms are 'geekish' only.

'most important thing ...balance' that's interesting. may be u r a 'normalish' geek, then!

Nan from London, UK on August 10, 2010:

My son calls me a geek, but I know I'm really a nerd.

Added to "Another 100 lenses for my 200th Lens"

anonymous on June 29, 2010:

Hmm what am I then? I am a femal programmer coding the games engine of my company. For me friends, party, sports, .... is as important as being able to discuss mathematical/code problems and learning more and more about AI, procedural Characteranimation and stuff like that.

Am I a Geerd then?

For me the most important thing is to keep the balance: what's a life whithout brains and what's it without soul ;)

AmericanDreamer1 on April 02, 2010:

I can't believe that you forgot Dorks!...I mean really, how could you? They form something of a trinity of the people in school who get beaten up by the bullies. The three are always grouped together, because they are part of the same structure of humiliation and shame, though in reality they are some of the best people around.

In case you were wondering, Dorks are the socially inept guys who wear braces and have acne, and aren't as smart as Nerds. The lucky ones are increadibly funny and therefore can be more liked by their peers, but those who don't have that gift are doomed to endless mockery (though sometimes don't mind because even negative attention is attention). These are the guys who show up on a scooter during a motorcycle convention and think that they are cool (and really to be cool is all that they want).

That is really the definition of a Dork, someone who is totally socially inept, who wants to be cool and accepted by their peers. The guy who can never get a date but still thinks he's a ladies man.

That being said, awesome lens. Your comarison of Geeks and Nerds is really spot on. I remember watching a show one time where one of the characters is a teacher talking to the football star, noting that he had done some terrible thing to some other kid. The star said "Sorry teach but, that guy is a Geek!" She replies, "Oh, he works hard, applies himself, gets good grades, that makes him Geek?" And the guy says, "Uh, no that makes him a Nerd."

Really excellent lens...though you should have added Dork...

Kiosks4business on March 26, 2010:

This is a brilliant lens - Great Fun! But you wouldn't want to be called a geek or a nerd really would you, even if you were one.

Andrew Po (author) on March 20, 2010:

@anonymous: Very interesting :)

anonymous on March 11, 2010:

If you want to look at this debate from a craft perspective, check it out here

lasertek lm on February 08, 2010:

I enjoyed this debate so much. Good to know that I had the correct definition of geeks and nerds. Most people I know consider the two as similar but I have always thought otherwise. 5*

Rhonda Albom from New Zealand on November 04, 2009:

Really fun debate. Blessed by a Squidoo Angel (you can add your link at Angel Blessings from Pukeko)

Treasures By Brenda from Canada on November 03, 2009:

Loved your parting line. Geek or nerd has great potential, you've done a great job of writing it up, I've blessed it and you just need to get the geeks and the nerds here with their boxing gloves on. Good luck and may the best one win.

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