The Definitive Nerd vs. Geek

Nerd or Geek

Call a Jedi a Trekkie and just see what happens. Lightsaber to the throat, kid. There's nothing worse than being misclassified. It's just a profound statement of just how misunderstood you really are. Do your parents really understand you? Not if they're putting phasers under the Christmas tree, they don't. The same is true for Nerds and Geeks. No nerd calculates so hard, gets such perfect grades, to be called a geek. Likewise, no geek spends 3 weeks putting together the perfect steam punk ensemble to be called a nerd. Too many people use the terms “geek” and “nerd” almost interchangeably. While the key differences between the two may be relatively minor to some, they are critical to those in the know. For the uninitiated, it's time to find out makes a nerd a nerd and a geek a geek.


The term nerd first came about in the 1950's when suspenders, pocket protectors, and badly taped horn rimmed glasses were all the rage. “Nerd” first appeared in print in Dr. Seuss's If I Ran the Zoo. “... A Nerkle a Nerd and a Seersucker, too! “ However, the meaning is a little unclear. Other sources claim it's an off shoot of nert (meaning nuts), knurd (drunk spelled backwards), and also gnurd (hmmm... could it be related to gnards of all things).

But despite its origin, Nerd has taken on a meaning of its own. In the world of Nerds and Geeks, perhaps the Nerd is the more cerebral of the two. If a nerd is anti-social it is merely because they're studying far too hard. Calculus, Science, straight A's: these are the things nerds are made of. They do enjoy a good calculator joke from time to time (6922251 x 8), but will forever be marked by their need to achieve. Some say nerds lack any sort of social development skills, however, this is simply untrue, a nerd just does not care to develop social skills. The frame of thought is if they make enough money, who needs to be socialized? Nerds are raw brain power at its finest.

Famous Nerds: Bill Gates, Steven Hawking, Al Gore (he invented nerds), Ben Stein


If nerds are almost soulless computation, geeks are their free-spirited counterparts. The geek is the nerd's inner freak... literally. The term geek comes from carnival sideshows, the wild man who bites heads off of chickens and such. Something far more primal than today's modern geeks. Geeks are now unilaterally almost always associated with fandom. If geeks are better socialized than nerds, it is only because they've devoted their lives to a piece of pop culture that happens to have other like-minded geeks also devoted to it. The average geek gets pretty solid B minus grades, but can repeat every line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail verbatim. Comic books, Dungeons & Dragons, Sci-Fi, Cosplay: these are the tools of the geek.

Society has even seen a rise in geek subculture with the geek chic or faux geeks as the case may be. A strange blend of Emo and techie, the faux geek manages to impress girls with his iPod while having little to no knowledge of the inner workings of Dr. Who. While, a faux geek may be tolerable to hang out with, DO NOT bring them to trivia night. They will be little help.

Famous Geeks: Weird Al Yankovic, Tina Fey, Seth Green, Wil Wheaton

Nerd, Geek, or Dork

Can Nerds and Geeks Get Along?

The reality is there are no sides. While some gravitate toward one side or the other, most of us fall into a murky area in between. Are we dorks? Spazes? Dweebs? Goons? I myself would probably be some breed of geeky dork. The point is “Geeks” and “Nerds” are not simple labels. Get to know your geek or nerd, find out their likes and dislikes, their hobbies, what kind of fan fiction they write (that's a trick question, if they answer anything then they're a geek). And once you find these out, then and only then can you feel free to poor their chocolate milk over their head and yell, “NERD!” as loud as you can.

Nerd/Geek Math Cheat Sheet

Science Skills
Nerd > Geek ≥ Dork

Computer Expertise
Geek ≥ Nerd > Dork

Earning potential
Nerd > Dork > Geek

Proximity to Sarah Michelle Geller
Geek > Dork > Nerd

Penis Size in Online Erotica
Nerd > Geek > Dork > Jock (I wonder who writes these?)

  • Anon
    Comment from: Anon
    09/27/09 @ 07:57:20 am

    Not only should you proof read before you submit a column but check for missing words. i don’t know how many loads of nerd screaming you can do but im sure you can be LOUD instead.

  • Dee Dee Supreme
    Comment from: Dee Dee Supreme
    09/30/09 @ 11:33:34 am

    Wow, tearing someone’s work apart as “Anon.” It takes a real man to anonymously critiquing someone. Kudos.

  • Geek Gurl
    Comment from: Geek Gurl
    10/13/09 @ 11:18:55 am

    Have YOU looked at your response? “i” is suppose to be capitalized (proper noun), and you are missing an “at” between “screaming” and “you". Then, you have a subject-verb error because “nerd” is singular when it should be plural. Oh wait, you don’t have a verb. Well anon, you should have an “are” between “nerd[s]” and “screaming"…..just so you know :)

  • A true geek
    Comment from: A true geek
    11/12/09 @ 02:27:11 am

    There is a mathematical contradiction between the diagram and the equations you present.

    If the group of dorks is a the intersection between geeks and nerds, then:
    1) dorks are a subset of geeks
    2) dorks are a subset of nerds

    If dorks are a subset of geeks -> then any feature that the geeks hold the dorks hold just as well!

    For that reason, no feature can be written like this: “Nerd > Dork” or like this: “Geek > Dork > Nerd".

  • Matches Malone
    Comment from: Matches Malone
    12/22/09 @ 11:42:44 am

    No one said there’d be any math, much less logic, when I followed the provided link. Rockin’ the Venn Diagram, though :)

  • Ryan McCoskrie
    Comment from: Ryan McCoskrie
    01/15/10 @ 05:41:55 pm

    Two things you got horribly, horribly wrong:
    1) Nerds aren’t necessarily good in school. I did terribly in High School because my brain is wired in such an unorthodox manner I couldn’t make sense of the teachers and vice-versa.

    2) Bill Gates is not, never has been and never will be a nerd. He is a complete poser who merely pretends to be a nerd to hide the fact that he is one of the most heartless business men in the word. He only started Micro$oft because no other company would take him.
    If you want an example of a real nerd look up Linus Torvalds

  • eriseshcaton
    Comment from: eriseshcaton
    01/26/10 @ 03:04:59 am

    I considrer myself a geek in that, in the words of all who know me, I am, “freakin insane!” but you misunderestamate(yes I know its not a word)us.
    we are interested in various subjects such as, ancient myths, fringe science, music, poetry, art,and taking various mind expanding/rapidifying/sharpening substances.
    yes vegitarians, you too eat the dead. and it tastes good

  • raxp
    Comment from: raxp
    02/25/10 @ 10:46:00 am

    no me considero ni uno de los dos.

  • xadrian
    Comment from: xadrian
    03/12/10 @ 03:34:56 pm

    I’m surprised I didn’t see this till now.

    Nerds love what they’re into.
    Geeks love what they’re into and have tattoos.


  • Marie
    Comment from: Marie
    03/24/10 @ 11:08:36 am

    This subject’s come up a lot lately in my circle of friends… I’m a nerd that gets called a “geek". So, I ended up blogging my thoughts on the differences: . Nerd pride!

  • HlGarden
    Comment from: HlGarden
    06/27/10 @ 08:56:08 pm

    It appears you have put a lot of hard work into your post and I need extra of these using the net these days. I sincerely got a kick out of your post. I don’t actually have much to say responding, I only wanted to comment to reply fantastic work.

  • Hello Kitty Coloring Pages
    Comment from: Hello Kitty Coloring Pages
    08/16/10 @ 11:19:43 am

    I enjoyed reading this, are you on twitter?

  • Anon
    Comment from: Anon
    10/16/10 @ 12:27:06 am

    U mad?

  • Anon
    Comment from: Anon
    10/16/10 @ 12:30:32 am

    Besides, this article is plagiarized from this one:

  • Gynexin
    Comment from: Gynexin
    04/19/11 @ 02:51:16 am

    Geek…Nerd…Geek…Nerd… Both are great man after all.

  • debouchage canalisation paris
    Comment from: debouchage canalisation paris
    09/15/11 @ 09:06:50 am

    solidary from… ” Nowhere! All you fat asses sit there in front of your computer, telling bullshit about solidarity. Be ashame!

  • christmas sms greetings
    Comment from: christmas sms greetings
    09/21/11 @ 05:02:58 am

    I have been reading your blog last couple of weeks and enjoy every bit. Thanks

  • no name
    Comment from: no name
    12/12/11 @ 03:23:43 pm

    bill gates was a nerd,look how he turned out

  • George
    Comment from: George
    01/13/12 @ 09:16:46 am

    Nerds versus Geeks. Thanks for your profound insight! I am sick of all this labelling and psychobabble for the masses. No surprises here that all this pidgeon-in-a-box or reductio ad simplicitus always has, and continues, to originate in the US and to a greater extent Anglo-Saxon Countries.
    The Meek shall inherit the Earth, but hell I wouldn’t want to live here…oh I forget, the meek did inherit the Earth and the moronic despots did rule; it was called the Dark Ages!

  • George
    Comment from: George
    01/13/12 @ 09:37:40 am

    Oh and by and by-well done putting the great Stephen Hawking in your primitive photo contrast of Nerd versus Geek…one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century, who has lived to 70 and outlived the early expectations of his death despite his condition. I thought you couldn’t steep any lower but I thought wrong, Wolf Gnards. All of our 20th and 21st Century way of life and technologies are owed to the brilliant minds of these so-called nerds…What has waste of cosmic space Kim Kardashian contributed to the betterment of humanity lately?
    Thank you Wolf Gnards for trivialising the fundamental role 20th Century Science has made and those beautiful minds that help create and instigate the way the live today!!!
    Wolf Gnards you are a moronic messenger that helps the masses denigrate, deride and belittle all those great scientific minds past, present and future. And the oscar for best moronic performance goes to…Wolf Gnards!

  • George
    Comment from: George
    04/16/12 @ 05:41:09 pm

    Hello dentist framingham. Thanks for plagarising my comments-wow-you are a clever, insightful, a pure genuis…oh did I mention a F*#K^!G Monkey Brain!

  • Emma the nerd
    Comment from: Emma the nerd
    06/27/12 @ 09:10:03 pm

    Ok, just have to say: Nerds can like sci-fi, but not be obsessed, and still be a nerd. Because that is me. Goodbye, all, off to my TARDIS.
    Just kidding.

  • Kim
    Comment from: Kim
    07/11/12 @ 12:44:26 pm

    Really George? It took you almost 22 minutes to write that 2nd comment?? Google much? ;-)

    Nice piece Wolfie

  • Edison Orellana
    Comment from: Edison Orellana
    07/13/12 @ 12:00:20 pm

    In the first paragraph under the title “Geek,” the word ‘literally’ is used improperly. The correct word should be figuratively. I find it extremely annoying when people use the word literally as a word giving emphasis instead of its actual meaning which is using words in their most basic meaning without metaphor. This is annoying and, given the subject matter, very inappropriate in this situation.

  • Michele
    Comment from: Michele
    08/16/12 @ 01:24:31 pm

    Interesting. In my high school, geeks were science and math people, and nerds were liberal arts people. Each group thought they were cooler than the other, but we got along and usually bonded over Star Trek, Monty Python other things. Granted, this was in the 1970s. So I still refer to myself as a nerd because I’m a literature and history person with a deep interest in science.

    Oddly enough, even though I went to a high school for the intellectually gifted, everyone there wasn’t a nerd or a geek. We had ‘popular kids’, who were white and usually came from money; most of the black kids (except for me and another girl) hung with each other. We also had a few druggie/weird kids who were essentially goths before there were goths.

  • De
    Comment from: De
    09/18/12 @ 10:49:19 am

    Nuts to the meek…the GEEK shall inherit the earth! :p

  • Bob from vigrx plus
    Comment from: Bob from vigrx plus
    12/07/12 @ 01:00:27 am

    Nerds VS Geeks - Who can beat the others in Video Games? I think Geeks - Skilled are always better than Educated))

  • Circus Equipment
    Comment from: Circus Equipment
    02/20/13 @ 01:58:45 pm

    i love xixit, because it was the first game that i played in computer, it’s funny and really enjoyable game.

  • Al Weighs Wright
    Comment from: Al Weighs Wright
    05/02/13 @ 07:54:13 pm

    Hey there. Middle school nerd here. I am nerdy, but I am also cool (yes, those words can be used together). I have memorized over 70 digits of pi, which impresses some of the cutest girls at school, only a few of which are also nerds. I like soccer. I have lots of friends. Again, mostly not nerd-y, with the exception of 1 or 2 (or 3). I play piano, and I’m good at science and math. Finally, the girl I like is VERY beautiful, and not nerd-y.

    Once again, I’m a nerd and I’m proud of it!