: 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 When Altman pops on stage, the auditorium—packed with rapturous academics, geeks, and journalists—erupts. Steven Levy, WIRED, 5 Sep. 2023 For you camera geeks, it’s got a 120 millimeter focal length and f/2.8 aperture. WSJ, 12 Sep. 2023 Adapt, learn the lingo and maybe even eat lunch with the band geeks. Seth Yudof, Rolling Stone, 16 Aug. 2023 An unabashed geek, Pee-wee Herman wore tight gray polyester suits with skinny bow ties and white shoes. Emily Langer, Washington Post, 31 July 2023 The major draw for hard-core film geeks will be the visuals. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 July 2023 With a healthy dose of wit and wisdom, soul-baring honesty and a riffing style that invokes his slash-and-burn guitar playing, Mud Ride offers something for record-collecting music geeks, skateboarder punk crews, grunge history heads, Nirvana and Pearl Jam fans, and Mudhoney buffs alike. Brad Cohan, SPIN, 13 June 2023 The Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels have evolved into high-tech geeks, relying on savvy business skills, encrypted communication and social media to recruit dealers to peddle their drugs across the border and into North Texas. Alfredo Corchado, Dallas News, 10 Apr. 2023 Which is to say, a whole lot more people are about to learn about the controversial geek who happened to be key in unleashing nuclear weapons upon the world. Paul Schrodt, Men's Health, 20 July 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 3 Oct. 2023.

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