\ 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 Too often high school dramas draw a line between the nerds and the cool people. S. Mitra Kalita, CNN, "6 ways 'Never Have I Ever' busts Asian stereotypes," 2 May 2020 Marc Piasecki/Getty Images PARIS — In the online forums where watch nerds and collectors gather to discuss the industry and grumble about brand marketing and rocketing prices, the Chanel J12 is often referred to as a fashion watch. Robin Swithinbank, New York Times, "Chanel’s ‘Fashion Watch’ Set the Fashion," 30 Apr. 2020 Asian men have historically been portrayed as emasculated, undesirable nerds, and Asian women have been stereotyped as exotic, hypersexual creatures. NBC News, "'Loveboat, Taipei' chronicles nostalgia of debaucherous Taiwainese summer camp," 31 Jan. 2020 Avid backpacker and public-lands nerd Emily Pennington saved up, built out a tiny van to travel and live in, and hit the road. Emily Pennington, Outside Online, "Add Guadalupe Mountains to Your Must-Visit List," 1 May 2020 Reid’s Meg is both marvelous and real, a beautiful nerd girl finally coming into a knowledge of her own power. Ty Burr,, "Family ties are the strength of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’," 7 Mar. 2018 Wilcox knew people doing the street stuff, and nerds., "A Milwaukee family put all their dreams and $160K into opening a gaming lounge. Just weeks later, coronavirus made it a nightmare.," 18 Apr. 2020 The latest teen comedy from Netflix comes from the mind of Mindy Kaling and focuses on one very thirsty nerd. Kaitlin Reilly,, "The Never Have I Ever Trailer Is All About Thirsty Nerds," 16 Apr. 2020 The Motorola Razr, which went on sale Thursday, is making nostalgia nerds want to embrace the flip phone again. David Goldman, CNN, "Google's got 'something exciting' coming for Samsung's Galaxy S20 launch event," 7 Feb. 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

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Nerd.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 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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More from Merriam-Webster on nerd

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nerd

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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