\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

Simon Pegg, the man behind some of nerd culture’s best projects from the past two decades, recently opened up about his struggles with depression, alcoholism and rehab. Tyler Mccarthy, Fox News, "Simon Pegg opens up about his struggle with alcoholism and recovery: 'It was just terrible'," 10 July 2018 Following abuse allegations alluded to by actress and model Chloe Dykstra, comedian Chris Hardwick’s nerd culture empire is toppling. Emma Stefansky, HWD, "Chris Hardwick’s AMC Talk Show Pulled After Abuse Allegations," 17 June 2018 To the world around us, black children didn’t have a place in nerd culture. Rochaun Meadows-fernandez, The Root, "The Stress of Parenting While Black Can Take a Toll on Mental Health," 15 Mar. 2018 New and old fans of 2 Dope Queens can expect to see celebrity guests such as Jon Stewart, Tituss Burgess, and Uzo Aduba talking about topics like living in New York and nerd culture. Shammara Lawrence, Teen Vogue, ""2 Dope Queens" from Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson Is Sure to Leave You Laughing," 2 Feb. 2018 The weaponization of nerd culture has been a nightmare. Ed Blair, Chicago Reader, "Chip-Hop artist Mega Ran brings nerd anthems to the arcade machines at Emporium," 1 Feb. 2018 Famously — famous is the wrong word — famously for nerds like you and me, [he] was interested in MySpace, or his team was interested in MySpace. Eric Johnson, Recode, "‘The King of Content’ author Keach Hagey talks with Peter Kafka about Sumner Redstone’s crazy life," 28 June 2018 From Vitsoe chairs and shelves to Braun watches, the legendary designer’s work is still a purchasable mainstay for design nerds with money. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "You can score vintage Dieter Rams designs at auction next month," 27 June 2018 And for literary nerds, there is a narrative voice shift midway through that amps up the suspense level in an unexpected but completely welcome manner. Rachel King, Fortune, "Eight Business Books That Are Actually Great Summer Beach Reads," 26 June 2018

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

25 Oct 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).


something that serves to warn or remind

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