: a person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked
: an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity
computer geek
: a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake
geekiness noun
geeky adjective

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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 geek in a Sentence

He was a real geek in high school. was quickly stereotyped as another computer geek
Recent Examples on the Web In that context, Weezer stood out immediately as a clean-cut quartet of geeks whose whimsical power pop retained some of the new wave polish of producer Ric Ocasek’s band the Cars. Spin Staff, SPIN, 11 Mar. 2024 Over the past few decades, Silicon Valley has gone from a sleepy string of towns on the San Francisco Peninsula packed with hard-working tech geeks to an epicenter of power in American culture. Taylor Lorenz, Washington Post, 12 Mar. 2024 Get your geek on at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. Jessica Poitevien, Travel + Leisure, 4 Mar. 2024 Oldman, who recently earned a Golden Globe nod for his performance in the show as irascible spook Jackson Lamb, will return alongside Kristin Scott Thomas, who plays MI5 second desk Diana Taverner, Jack Lowden as espionage nepo baby River Cartwright and Christopher Chung as cocky geek Roddy Ho. K.j. Yossman, Variety, 2 Jan. 2024 Still, whiskey geeks who sip it straight will like its spicy follow through. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, 21 Jan. 2024 End of carousel But we coffee geeks do have a mission: to unlock the full sensory experience trapped inside those beans. Tim Carman, Washington Post, 2 Jan. 2024 As part of the push, Shih supports more than a dozen cultural organizations associated more with artists than fellow geeks. Russell Flannery, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 But the Macintosh brought together numerous advances that were about giving people an accessory – not for geeks or techno-hobbyists, but for home office moms and soccer dads and eighth grade students who used it to write documents, edit spreadsheets, make drawings and play games. Smithsonian Magazine, 19 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'geek.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


probably from English dialect geek, geck fool, from Low German geck, from Middle Low German

First Known Use

1912, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of geek was in 1912

Dictionary Entries Near geek

Cite this Entry

“Geek.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

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