\ˈnərd \

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 \ noun
nerdish \ˈnər-​dish \ adjective
nerdy \ˈnər-​dē \ adjective

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

Graphics nerds will dig the built-in benchmark though. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: Katamari Damacy finally rolls onto PCs, Tencent's snowboarding battle royale," 14 Sep. 2018 In a deflection attempt only theater nerds and gay men will appreciate, Grande posts about her involvement in the Wicked fifteenth anniversary special—her first social media post since the breakup rumors kicked off. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Here Is the Full, Confusing Saga of Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson's Breakup," 15 Oct. 2018 Mark Hamill, who has played Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars movie franchise, might be considered royalty to moviegoers and nerds alike. Megan Friedman, Town & Country, "Mark Hamill Wishes He Made Eye Contact When He Met Princess Margaret," 19 Sep. 2018 With this new undertaking comes an equally thrilling project (to us design nerds, at least): the renovation of her Amore & Vita headquarters, which includes a full reception area and three private offices. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "An Exclusive Look Inside Shay Mitchell’s Stunning Office Remodel," 4 Sep. 2018 So yes, winning this Intel Core i7-8086K would indeed be the sweetest prize for a nerd looking to build his or her next gaming rig. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "Final day: Win a signed limited edition Core i7-8086K CPU," 1 Aug. 2018 Simon Pegg, the man behind some of nerd culture’s best projects from the past two decades, recently opened up about his struggles with depression, alcoholism and rehab. Tyler Mccarthy, Fox News, "Simon Pegg opens up about his struggle with alcoholism and recovery: 'It was just terrible'," 10 July 2018 Following abuse allegations alluded to by actress and model Chloe Dykstra, comedian Chris Hardwick’s nerd culture empire is toppling. Emma Stefansky, HWD, "Chris Hardwick’s AMC Talk Show Pulled After Abuse Allegations," 17 June 2018 To the world around us, black children didn’t have a place in nerd culture. Rochaun Meadows-fernandez, The Root, "The Stress of Parenting While Black Can Take a Toll on Mental Health," 15 Mar. 2018

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

6 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for nerd

The first known use of nerd was in 1951

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More Definitions for nerd



English Language Learners Definition of nerd

: 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 \

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nerd

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nerd

Spanish Central: Translation of nerd

Nglish: Translation of nerd for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nerd for Arabic Speakers

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