\ 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] 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

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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. 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 At that point, the interviewee looks defenseless, like the pimply, husky nerd in thick glasses forced to play dodgeball in the school gym and take it, repeatedly, in the head. Washington Post, 24 June 2021 Much like Galaxy’s Edge, this new Disneyland realm sounds like a nerd’s paradise, a place where anyone can walk amongst heroes and rogues. Angela Watercutter, Wired, 4 June 2021 Joining forces with her awkward tech nerd of a coworker Geo (Davidson), she unexpectedly gets swept up in a company-wide contest that forces her to question her morals. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, 18 Apr. 2021 His best friend, Marshall (John Femia), was a comedy nerd long before comedy nerds had become acceptable in the mainstream. Jen Chaney, Vulture, 9 Apr. 2021 Gates was a lovable nerd who was out to save the world. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 4 June 2021 Who wouldn't love being seen on national television every Wednesday as an uncoordinated nerd who cries in his underwear? Dalton Ross,, 1 June 2021 Saint-Germain is a nerd, but even the fighters feel similarly restless. Christian Holub,, 14 May 2021 Avid backpacker and public-lands nerd Emily Pennington saved up, built out a tiny van to travel and live in, and hit the road, practicing COVID-19 best safety protocols along the way. Emily Pennington, Outside Online, 13 May 2021

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 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

7 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nerd.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for nerd



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

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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