\ ˈnərd How to pronounce nerd (audio) \
plural nerds

Definition of nerd

1 : a person devoted to intellectual, academic, or technical pursuits or interests This book is essential reading for every hacker, computer nerd, systems analyst, middle manager or computer-store browser enamored of computer wizardry.— William Stockton He's happy to be thought of as a nerd with street cred. He [Neil deGrasse Tyson] shines best in impromptu settings like talk shows or needling cosmologists at the annual Asimov debates … about nothingness or alternate universes.— Dennis Overbye Will a dab of Shakespeare daintily perfume my wit or just sound like the literary belching of a compulsive nerd?— Gary Taylor also : a person preoccupied with or devoted to a particular activity or field of interest At college she was a theater nerd. … "I wasn't afraid to jam, with the windows down, to Phantom of the Opera," she [Kristen Bell] says. — Troy Patterson Working beside him is his partner, Ron Johnson, another self-described snow nerd— David Quammen
2 : an unstylish or socially awkward person [Sitcom character Steven Q.] Urkel is loaded with everything in the nerd's bag of tics: suspenders, spectacles, squeaks, snorts, and scrawniness.— Shelley Levitt

Other Words from nerd

nerdiness \ ˈnər-​dē-​nəs How to pronounce nerd (audio) \ noun
With his brother Hank he heads a YouTube channel with 2 million subscribers and an organization … that advances social causes and generally celebrates nerdiness. — Lev Grossman
nerdish \ ˈnər-​dish How to pronounce nerd (audio) \ adjective
… a nerdish type in one corner was madly tapping the keys of a laptop computer. — Ian Stewart
nerdy \ ˈnər-​dē How to pronounce nerd (audio) \ adjective
He and his two pals aren't even nerdy enough to join the debate team or the science club, but they dote on superhero comic books. — Richard Alleva

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. 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 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 There’s something for quite literally every nerd from the hardcore collector to the casual browser. oregonlive, 10 Sep. 2022 Its à la carte menu feels like one for a true food nerd. The Bon Appétit Staff & Contributors, Bon Appétit, 8 Sep. 2022 Every morning, the doctor, who was a theatre nerd as a kid, selects a CD of show tunes to play in the waiting room. Eric Lach, The New Yorker, 1 Aug. 2022 The equable-nerd manner that colleagues once noted in Alito deserted him soon after Barack Obama became President. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 28 Aug. 2022 Alex LeVine, co-founder and chief executive of the 2-year-old, L.A.-based vape brand PodTones and a certifiable weed nerd, said there are clues that can be gleaned by digging into a COA’s list of additional cannabinoids and terpenes. Adam Tschorn, Los Angeles Times, 18 Aug. 2022 They are led by The Rock (who makes the most of the joke that his body is now inhabited by an asthmatic nerd), along with Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and the very funny Karen Gillan. Eva Holland, Outside Online, 14 Aug. 2022 The two finalists competed in a best-of-five series Wednesday at the Marriott Inner Harbor for a $10,000 prize and bragging rights as the continent’s top word nerd. Hayes Gardner, Washington Post, 1 Aug. 2022 Friendly and rumpled, with an unruly halo of curly hair, the 30-year-old widely known as SBF has an affinity for League of Legends, fidget spinners, and other trappings of nerd culture. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, 1 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of nerd

1951, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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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Last Updated

17 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Nerd.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for nerd


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on nerd

Nglish: Translation of nerd for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nerd for Arabic Speakers


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