: 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.

Example Sentences

He was a real geek in high school. was quickly stereotyped as another computer geek
Recent Examples on the Web For the theater geek Tickets to see plays and musicals can get pricey very quickly. Maya Homan,, 26 Aug. 2022 Ponder, for only a moment, how different your life would be without the geek. The Intersection, Discover Magazine, 27 Jan. 2011 With 500 questions, there's something for everyone from the casual fan to the obsessed sports geek. Layla Mcmurtrie, Detroit Free Press, 3 June 2022 Formerly known as Shaggy in previous series and movies, Norville (Sam Richardson) is a Black band geek and Velma’s loyal go-to pal. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 12 Jan. 2023 This set of features allows users to monitor all sorts of car-geek data, such as horsepower, cornering g-force, and even acceleration-time stats. Drew Dorian, Car and Driver, 20 Dec. 2022 Throughout, the piano phrase continues to spin with no clear start or end point, thanks to disorienting, math-geek time signatures. Jonathan Rowe, SPIN, 20 Dec. 2022 Putting a modern twist on the Faustian bargain, the movie stars Fraser as a lonely computer geek who makes a deal with the Devil, signing away his soul for seven wishes. Mike Miller,, 11 Oct. 2022 Even my fellow cocktail-geek friends don’t typically arrive with schemes to throw down the booze gauntlet. M. Carrie Allan, Washington Post, 29 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'geek.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 22 Mar. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on geek

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