\ ˈnərd How to pronounce nerd (audio) \
plural nerds

Essential Meaning of nerd

informal + usually disapproving
1 : a person who behaves awkwardly around other people and usually has unstylish clothes, hair, etc. He dresses like a nerd.
2 : a person who is very interested in technical subjects, computers, etc. My brother is a computer nerd. [=geek] a grammar nerd

Full 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. The usage of nerd is now often used in a neutral fashion to denote enthusiasm or expertise (theater nerd) or proudly as a self-identifying trait (word nerd). Geek became synonymous with nerd in the 1950s and has similarly seen increasing use with positive connotations, showing membership in a specialized group (film geek, beer geek) rather than social awkwardness. In its earliest meanings, geek 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 one memorable episode, Jacqueline persuades Titus to portray a bumbling nerd in an instructional sketch before an audience of high school students., 11 Oct. 2021 In the studio before Mr. McHale’s interview, Mr. O’Brien, a word nerd, giggled about getting carried away with sponsor names such as Magoosh, a test-prep company. John Jurgensen, WSJ, 2 Oct. 2021 This driver seems nicer: a nerd with a tersely sympathetic manner. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 6 Sep. 2021 Currently, Devi's mother's house is filled with her lovably eccentric besties Eleanor (Ramona Young) and Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez), a frankly impressive chunk of her high school for a nerd, and most importantly, both of her boyfriends. Samantha Highfill,, 12 July 2021 That left the obsessive-nerd option: getting really, really into climate change. Paul Ford, Wired, 27 Sep. 2021 Another happy hotel-nerd fact: This is the first U.S.A. hotel that opened under the Four Seasons name. Laura Manske, Forbes, 2 Sep. 2021 For a nerd like me, who’d love to dump those videos onto my computer for editing, that’s a bit of a disappointment. Washington Post, 9 Sep. 2021 In fairness, the character was a very 2000s type of snarky nerd romantic. Darren Franich,, 8 Sep. 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

23 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nerd.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for nerd


\ 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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