\ 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 nerdiness (audio) \ noun
nerdish \ ˈnər-​dish How to pronounce nerdish (audio) \ adjective
nerdy \ ˈnər-​dē How to pronounce nerdy (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 Weaver spoke candidly about growing up as a young nerd who was bullied by his peers and subjected to microaggression by his teachers. Tamara Wilson, CNN, "Activist creates new narrative to counter negative media portrayals of young Black people," 9 Oct. 2020 The Friday before Netflix announced the cancellation of GLOW, the network released a first look at the fourth season of Stranger Things, increasingly the expensively-soundtrack'd Happy Days of nerd culture. Darren Franich,, "Farewell to GLOW, a great show that deserved one final round," 6 Oct. 2020 Mariah, always a pop nerd at heart, handles the alluring-but-firm vocal with gleeful aplomb, while Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis -- producers on both original and cover -- go absolutely nuts on the synths in the back. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "The 100 Greatest Mariah Carey Songs: Staff Picks," 5 Oct. 2020 Maybe your dad’s a sports fan, word nerd, or fitness freak. Malia Griggs, SELF, "19 Delightful Gifts for Your Dad You Can Buy on Amazon," 3 Oct. 2020 Spotlighting just one song per episode, this is a nirvana for any music nerd searching for a deep cut. Emma Dibdin, New York Times, "7 Podcasts for Music Lovers," 1 Oct. 2020 Some traced the nerd-chic look to Steve Urkel, an endearingly goofy black kid on the Nineties sitcom Family Matters who was . . . Kyle Smith, National Review, "The Sneetchification of America," 17 Sep. 2020 In a more modern twist, Easterling's character is as a social media influencer who decides to turn her school's biggest nerd into a prom king after being dumped by her boyfriend. Alexia Fernandez,, "TikTok Star Addison Rae Cast in Gender-Swap Reboot of She’s All That: 'My Dreams Are Coming True'," 11 Sep. 2020 For a beauty nerd like me, there's absolutely nothing like the fall. Nicola Dall'asen, Allure, "Huda Beauty's Haze Obsessions Collection Could Start Its Very Own Beauty Trend," 9 Sep. 2020

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

22 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Nerd.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for nerd


How to pronounce nerd (audio)

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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