\ 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

In this corporate rebellion, the nerds have been leading the way. Hiawatha Bray,, "Tech community wrestles over working with government," 13 July 2018 But for the true science nerd who also craves a page turner there’s Nadine Burke Harris’s THE DEEPEST WELL: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27). Judith Newman, New York Times, "Adversity Needn’t Thwart or Define You. Here’s How to Cope.," 6 July 2018 For one day, architecture nerds of all stripes can sneak a peek. Marielle Wakim, Los Angeles Magazine, "Here Are the 12 Best Things to Do in L.A. in July," 26 June 2018 This free Washington museum, in the heart of the Smithsonian complex, will have your space nerd over the moon. Chris Erskine,, "Geek out with your grad at these high-minded museums and events," 30 May 2018 And check out the address on the back — the other nerds will be so impressed by your attention to detail! Laura Beck, Seventeen, "So, You Didn't Get a Hogwarts Acceptance Letter but You Can Still Own This Magical Clutch," 21 May 2018 As other professional sports leagues dove head-first into analytics, football willingly stayed back in the time before the math nerds infiltrated sports. Steven Ruiz, For The Win, "NFL teams need to be like Josh Rosen and ask 'why?' more often," 2 Apr. 2018 Alpha nerds can block all of Facebook's subdomains directly (though that obviously disables the site entirely). Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Keep Facebook From Spying on You Without Deleting Your Account," 27 Mar. 2018 Here are 5 books to buy your beloved nerd for Christmas Laughs In the Lounge. Gege Reed, The Courier-Journal, "What to do around Louisville this week: Elf-apalooza, Holly & Ivy, Lights Under Louisville & more," 6 Dec. 2017

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

13 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

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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Comments on nerd

What made you want to look up nerd? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the setting in which something occurs

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