General English


  • A person who is inordinately oriented towards and/or dedicated to technology, especially that pertaining to computers and networks. The term usually implies a given level of expertise. Also called geek.


  • noun a gormless, vacuous, tedious and/or ineffectual person. Since the later 1970s this has been a vogue term, particularly among adolescents. It was coined in the USA in the late 1960s or early 1970s by members of surfing and hot-rodding cliques to refer to outsiders considered feeble or conformist. The word was then taken up on student campuses and by hippies. (An underground cartoon strip of the early 1970s portrayed nerds as a sub-species of suburban dullards.) The word nerd itself (nurd was an earlier alternative spelling) is of uncertain origin, but may be influenced by turd.

Origin & History of “nerd”

It seems likely that nerd, a term for a dull, socially inept or otherwise obnoxious person that appeared in US slang in the early 1950s, was inspired by a whimsical creature called a ‘nerd’ that was invented by the American children’s author ‘Dr Seuss’ (Theodore Seuss Geisel (1904–1991)) and introduced by him in his book If I Ran the Zoo (1950): ‘And then, just to show them, I’ll sail to Ka-Troo And bring back an It-Kutch, a Preep and a Proo, a Nerkle, a Nerd, and a Seersucker, too!’ In thinking up the word he may have been influenced by Mortimer Snerd, the name of a dummy used by the American ventriloquist Edgar Bergen