\ ˈnərd How to pronounce nerd (audio) \

Definition of nerd

: an unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person especially : one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits computer nerds … single-minded math and science nerds— Anna Quindlen

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Other Words from nerd

nerdiness \ ˈnər-​dē-​nəs How to pronounce nerd (audio) \ noun
nerdish \ ˈnər-​dish How to pronounce nerd (audio) \ adjective
nerdy \ ˈnər-​dē How to pronounce nerd (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for nerd


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Of Nerds, Geeks, and Dorks

Dork, when used to refer to a socially awkward or inept person, is a relatively recent word: our records indicate that it first appeared in writing in the 1960s. Two of its synonyms in this sense are likewise of fairly recent vintage. Nerd (typically used of a studious species of dork) dates from the 1950s; it was coined by Dr. Seuss in his 1950 book If I Ran the Zoo, although not in the sense that we use today. Geek became synonymous with nerd in the 1950s. Prior to this, the word referred to, among other things, a carnival performer who would bite the head off a live chicken, or other small animal, as part of an act.

Examples of nerd in a Sentence

He dresses like a nerd. was such a nerd in college that she spent Saturday nights at the library
Recent Examples on the Web Yeun gets to spotlight a lot of different sides to Mark’s character in this episode: the petulant son, the vulnerable nerd, the overeager rookie desperate to prove himself, and, finally, the triumphant hero. Oliver Sava, Vulture, "Invincible Premiere Recap: Father Knows Best," 26 Mar. 2021 The nerd next door who's a whiz in geometry and a dunce in relationships. Neal Justin, Star Tribune, "Reliving 'My So-Called Life,' one of the greatest series in TV history," 25 Mar. 2021 O’Connell wonders, half in jest) is pure music-nerd gold. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: In a new Apple TV+ documentary, Billie Eilish is ready for her extreme close-up," 5 Mar. 2021 And Devane doesn’t do himself any favors by making his potential murder victims — a techie nerd, a social media influencer, a boorish jock, a pot-head and a prickly lesbian — so gratingly cartoonish. Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times, "Review: In horror films and thrillers, location, location, location often isn’t enough," 5 Mar. 2021 Her Missy is someone who is Black, but also a space nerd who has a green belt in capoeira and a huge crush on Nathan Fillion. Shannon Carlin,, "Big Mouth Finally Gave Missy Her Voice," 5 Dec. 2020 One need not be a comics nerd to find Riesman's portrait of the deeply flawed and relatably human pop-culture icon an absorbing read, and some of its revelations are stunning. Barbara Vandenburgh, USA TODAY, "'The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee': Absorbing bio details dismantles myths surrounding Marvel comics icon," 18 Feb. 2021 But also… there’s nothing particularly thematically interesting here, just the giddiness of cheap nerd bait. Abraham Riesman, Vulture, "WandaVision Recap: I Want Your Hex," 5 Feb. 2021 But this comedy nerd history is filtered through memoir, with Key relating stories of his budding fandom, training and rise from improv comic to television sketch artist. Jason Zinoman, New York Times, "On Keegan-Michael Key’s Podcast, a Provocative Case for Sketch Comedy," 27 Jan. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nerd.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of nerd

1951, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for nerd

perhaps from nerd, a creature in the children's book If I Ran the Zoo (1950) by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel)

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Statistics for nerd

Last Updated

2 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nerd.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for nerd



English Language Learners Definition of nerd

informal + usually disapproving
: a person who behaves awkwardly around other people and usually has unstylish clothes, hair, etc.
: a person who is very interested in technical subjects, computers, etc.


\ ˈnərd How to pronounce nerd (audio) \

Kids Definition of nerd

1 : a person who is socially awkward, unattractive, or not fashionable
2 : a person who is extremely interested in technical or intellectual subjects

Other Words from nerd

nerdy \ ˈnər-​dē \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on nerd

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nerd

Nglish: Translation of nerd for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nerd for Arabic Speakers

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