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“What is N – E – R – D – S ?”

September 27th, 2004 · No Comments

After coming home from a birthday party today, Abigail started sorting through her loot, examining the labels on the treats. Since she doesn’t often eat candy or even see it, she had a few questions and quizzical expressions.

Abigail asked, “What is N – E – R – D – S?”

Ted and I started smiling. I figured that since Ted went to MIT , he should have a good answer. And he did:

We are nerds.”

Wikipedia to the rescue:

Nerd was adopted in the mid-1960s to describe a stereotypical intelligent recluse with poor social skills, one who is usually the butt of others’ jokes […]
The stereotypical nerd image as seen in the mass media and cartoons is a young man wearing thick black glasses (preferably broken and taped up with electrical tape), pocket protectors and dress shirts or clothes that are in general too formal for the circumstances in which they are worn. Sometimes, he is lacking in personal hygeine skills, and he will typically be either very skinny or extremely fat. Stereotypical nerds are usually socially awkward and incapable of social interaction, except on technical topics.

I was not aware that the word “nerd” originated with Dr. Seuss. And I didn’t know the difference between geeks and nerds.

Within the nerd community, nerds dispute among themselves the relationship of the “nerd” to the “geek”; some view the geek as a less technically skilled nerd, although some factions maintain that “nerds” are both technically skilled and socially competent, whereas “geeks” are only technically skilled, and socially incompetent. Still other nerds call themselves “geeks” with pride, in much the same way as is done with “nerd” (c.f. Geekcorps, an organization that sends people with technical skills to Third World countries to assist in computer infrastructure development.)

Much better than the dictionary’s definition. My paperback book from college doesn’t have an entry for nerd! Dictionary.com stated:

1. A foolish, inept, or unattractive person.
2. A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept.

I suppose that our family’s homeschooling syllabus should include Why Nerds Are Unpopular, just to prepare them for their genetic destination…


Tags: geek