Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Nerd, Geek, and Dork (random)

I've hung out with a lot of very smart people over the years and so have heard these words used now and again, but not always with a derogatory intent. What follows is how I view each of these terms, with my definitions slightly different from those in the dictionary.

Nerd: Someone who is very enthusiastic about a subject academically or academia in general. Someone who is very studious. I use this word but with no derogatory intent. I was a math nerd in school until I got to graduate school where the math people were definitely nerdier than I ever was.

Geek: Someone who is very enthusiastic, almost obsessively, about a subject but not in an academic manner. So a computer nerd would have something to do with studying the computer whereas the computer geek could be interested in how computers work, gaming, the internet or other computer-related things in a different environment.

Dork: Someone who is socially inept because of a lack of interest in popular pursuits. While the above two words are defined in the dictionary with an implied social ineptness, I personally only use the word dork to imply social ineptness. In my definition, a nerd or a geek could be a dork because their obsessiveness with their chosen subject significantly reduces their interest in other popular pursuits. However, a dork does not have to have a subject that they are enthusiastic about, just that they're not interested in things that other people like and therefore makes social interaction awkward.


Josekin said...

Make sense. Calling someone a dork sounds like a bigger insult.

You forgot the aesthetic implications of the three terms: Geeks and Nerds come in all forms with think glasses and tall pants and ball pen stains. Dorks are more like porky pigs most of the time.

The Pretender said...

Yes you're right, the aesthetic implications are big. Makes me think that it's worse to be called nerdy/geeky-looking than to just be called a nerd/geek.