: a person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked
: an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity
computer geek
: a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake
geekiness noun
geeky adjective

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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. The usage of nerd is now often used in a neutral fashion to denote enthusiasm or expertise (theater nerd) or proudly as a self-identifying trait (word nerd). Geek became synonymous with nerd in the 1950s and has similarly seen increasing use with positive connotations, showing membership in a specialized group (film geek, beer geek) rather than social awkwardness. In its earliest meanings, geek 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 geek in a Sentence

He was a real geek in high school. was quickly stereotyped as another computer geek
Recent Examples on the Web The audience naturally aligns with the outsider looking in, and Keoghan’s geek is forever peering through windows with mole-ish envy. Amy Nicholson, Los Angeles Times, 17 Nov. 2023 Montessori is a hero to today’s business geeks for three reasons. Andrew McAfee, Fortune, 14 Nov. 2023 The thrill of being a part of a 10-year connective journey, and the march toward the battle with Thanos over two Avengers movies, had the geeks hyped and the non-comic-heads intrigued. David Betancourt, Washington Post, 16 Nov. 2023 Adopting this into their mindset has enabled the geeks to inherit the Earth. Bernard Marr, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 Once, manga was only for otaku (geeks), but now everyone is interested in Japanese animation, in Japan and increasingly abroad. Patrick Frater, Variety, 7 Nov. 2023 This will be news to the inventors of the internet, who were civil servants and academic geeks with zero profit motive. WIRED, 20 Oct. 2023 The jock’s story played out like a Fast and Furious film, for instance, while the band geek’s was a musical. Andrew Webster, The Verge, 3 Oct. 2023 First, the new technology reaches only a small segment of the population — new adopters and tech geeks. Shannon Osaka, Emily Guskin, Anchorage Daily News, 18 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'geek.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


probably from English dialect geek, geck fool, from Low German geck, from Middle Low German

First Known Use

1912, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of geek was in 1912

Dictionary Entries Near geek

Cite this Entry

“Geek.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

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