What’s the Difference Between Nerd and Geek?
How Natives Talk About Nerds
You know, when I was growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, nerds were not cool. You can see this in a lot of movies and TV shows from that time, where there were always stereotypical nerds, wearing glasses, with their shirts all buttoned-up to the top.
Then, in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, when technology began to expand it’s hold on us, the nerds suddenly became cool!
All this stuff that used to be looked down on, like comic books, is now a badge of honor.
Take me, for instance. I always got straight A’s, loved books, floated on the outskirts of the ‘cool crowd’, but, look at me now!
I am, and always have been, a full-on nerd. Don’t be misled by my tattoos- most of them are, indeed, inspired by comic books and literature.
Nerd- smart person, historically thought of socially inept, but, today can also be a smart cool person source
It is often used affectionately, if a friend says or does something weird.
For instance, if I correct a friend’s word usage, or offer some sci-fi fact or trivia, they might laugh and say, “Of course you would know that. You’re such a nerd!”
Geek- someone who knows a lot about a particular subject, like a ‘science geek’; can also be used like nerd, for a very smart person, although socially inept
Yes, it’s similar to ‘nerd’, but, today, a geek still wouldn’t be a cool person, while a nerd could be.
Originally, it meant ‘freak’, and In the 18th and 19th century, it specifically denoted weird people on display in circuses and carnivals, like the bearded lady. source
Dork- can be the same as ‘nerd’, but also can just describe a person socially inept but not necessarily intelligent
Dweeb- boring nerd
This was more of a common slang term in the 80’s.
However, natives still use it today synonymously with ‘nerd’ at times.
To put this in perspective, let’s say Bill Gates and Steve Jobs could both be called ‘nerds’, but Bill Gates could also be a ‘geek’ or a ‘dweeb’, as his persona isn’t as cool as that of Jobs, with his black turtleneck, and having been portrayed by Michael Fassbender in the super cool movie Steve Jobs from 2015..
Comment! Tell us about your nerdy ways!
Pop Culture R&R
So, I spoke early about the stereotypical nerd portrayed in pop culture before the 2000’s. No movie better portrays the stereotypes that existed back then than The Breakfast Club.
It came out in 1985, and really is the quintessential 80’s movie, starring Molly Ringwald, and directed by John Hughes.
It’s about a group of high school kids that all have Saturday detention together, and each one is a different stereotype, like the popular girl, the jock, the outcast, and the nerd.
There are literally so many famous scenes and quotes from this flick, but my favorite is, “Don’t mess with the bull, young man. You’ll get the horns.”
Here’s the trailer:
Music credit: https://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music