A complete guide to knowing the difference between nerds and geeks

nerd or geek

“You’re a geek!” “You’re a nerd!” Is that a compliment, an insult, or what? And anyway, what does that actually mean? It can be confusing, especially as there is some overlap between the two and so there might be geeky nerds…or nerdy geeks! This article will help you understand the difference between the two.

Part One: The Geek, Defined

Understand the origins of the geek.

To fully appreciate the modern geek, one must find the roots of “geekness.” Back in the early 20th century, when itinerant fairs were popular, there was a performer known as a “geek.” His job was to perform bizarre and outrageous feats for the amusement of the locals. Remarkably, this included biting off the heads of live chickens.

Compare to today’s geek.

Today’s geek rarely bites off chicken heads. Instead, a geek is someone who is generally very knowledgeable – even to the point of obsession – about a topic. Being a geek caught on when the term was adopted by computer programmers and other technical folks, but since then the geek has become more mainstream. There are wine geeks, car geeks, and Lord of the Rings geeks, each following the details of their chosen obsession closely. To elaborate, it’s important to note that geeks are generally social. They have a fascination for something that makes them unique, but you probably wouldn’t know about their geekness if they didn’t tell you about it.

Part Two: The Nerd, Defined

Uncover the origins of the word “nerd”.

The word “nerd” was introduced in 1954 by a young doctor named Seuss with a line that went like this: “A nerkle, a nerd, and a seersucker too!” If you don’t use a hackneyed word like “nerd” for someone If you want, you can also call him or her a “seersucker”. The connotation is generally that of a tedious, unattractive person who may be brilliant but who prefers to pursue non-social pursuits. Another definition of the term “nerd” is a “four-letter word with a six-figure income.”

Part Three: Comparing geeks and nerds

Compare communication skills.

Geeks and nerds may or may not share similar outward traits, but when you compare their attitudes toward life, the differences become apparent. Nerds love to use jargon and unusual terminology in their dialogue, while geeks obfuscate heaps of citation. For example, a nerd might say, “That’s an overused foley (noise). The SD (sound director) must be lazy.” The geek would say the same thing, “Oh! I love how Peter Jackson uses Wilhelm’s cry in every movie!” Geeks are often interested in the microcosmic details of life, for example by noticing that your current situation is very similar to that of a news article or a novel. Nerds don’t seem to show any interest in the details of everyday life and are more focused on the macroscopic, such as scientific possibilities and the future of mankind.

Compare interests.

You will recognize them by the way they play. A geek may enjoy board games, movies (and may obsessively follow directors, composers, or key camera operators), tech gadgets, hacking, and techno music. A nerd enjoys solitary pursuits like programming, Second Life, or games like chess and Go.

Compare their social skills.

Although they both display obsessive traits about their passions, they differ when it comes to normal human interactions. A geek possesses normal social skills, although they can tend to be boastful and outspoken, especially when the subject happens to be their particular passion. Then he may not let you go until he has explained exactly how this thing works and the history of the team that designed it. A nerd is more introverted. They may know a great deal about the very same thing that the geek is a specialist in, but it can take some effort to get them to talk about it.

Find out who they love.

It’s universal wisdom that geeks can fall for anyone (although it doesn’t have to be the other way around). Nerds, on the other hand, only succumb to nerds. This may be a survival tactic, but no one knows for sure.

Find out where they work.

While nerds and geeks are both intelligent and educated, there are some career paths that only appeal to one or the other: In addition to IT departments that populate them worldwide, you can find geeks in artistic professions such as web design, graphic design, or game design. You’ll find geeks behind the bar, at your corner record store, or making espressos at a coffee shop. Look out for nerds who work as top-notch scientists or programmers of the software that the IT department needs to manage. You may be an engineer, an inventor, or even a brilliant recluse who rarely sees the light of day. You may also find them behind the counter of the last remaining video store.

Enjoy the differences.

Geeks, nerds, dorks, dorks, knaves, clumsies, and regulars all have their niches, and they all have something to contribute to our great world. It’s fun to laugh and spread stereotypes, but remember that everyone is valuable until proven otherwise. Remember that most geeks are part nerds and most nerds are part geeks. Sometimes the dividing line is fuzzy, so keep these two Urban Dictionary definitions in mind: Nerd: The person you’ll someday call “boss.” Geek: The people you picked on in high school and ended up working for as an adult.


In order to engage a geek or nerd in conversation, you should be willing to accept that there’s something fundamentally interesting about something they’re obsessing over. You will not fully understand why this is so, but just accept that it is so. You are both smart. They probably know a lot more than you do. So don’t underestimate them. Nerds may not feel the need to defend against attacks on their area of ​​interest because they just don’t care that much about the opinions of others. Geeks are typically very energetic and will jump at the chance to discuss a topic close to their hearts to convince you of its value. It’s possible for someone to be either a nerd or a geek and yet not recognize it and therefore not celebrate or identify with their status; this person may even struggle to be considered mainstream. Geeks’ interests are often ridiculed or put down by others who don’t fully appreciate them. Nerds have often ridiculed themselves or been put down by others who don’t really understand them. Some nerds believe their interests are of “potential value to humanity as a whole, although humanity does not yet know it”. Geeks are typically able to infer an object’s immediate value to its future value, although many only see trinkets, hoarding, or junk. Nerds and geeks will never be mainstream by nature or accepted by the general public. All you can try is try to be a little bit more open and understanding towards others. Both geeks and nerds may have characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome, which will soon disappear as a distinct diagnostic category and be incorporated into the high-end autism spectrum disorders of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Being aware of this when it affects you can go a long way in relieving the constant pain that comes from trying in vain to adjust. A greater degree of self-acceptance — let alone emphasizing your undeniable strengths — would be a better strategy for living a fruitful and happy life. Although both may qualify for Mensa International, nerds are more likely to join, preferring the company of others with similarly high IQs.


Lillie Byrd

Lillie Byrd is a saving expert for Usevoucher. He has been a newspaper reporter and editor, authored a personal finance book in 2012. She previously was a reporter at Digital Journal, covering consumer products, society, and other business topics. She also has a certificate in finance from Boston University.