Do you think you're a nerd?
Nerds Versus Geeks
As you can tell from the lovely Venn diagram above, geeks and nerds are not the same thing. The evolution of the nerd has changed over the years from dweeb-like status, complete with suspenders, glasses, and a bad hair-do, to an appearance so closely related to the average person on the street that they are nearly indistinguishable, until you get them started on one of their obsessions, such as a television show or novel.
So, how can you tell if someone is a nerd?
The biggest difference between a nerd versus a geek is that a geek has a little more social skills. Therefore, a nerd is more likely to be extremely shy, awkward, and/or strange in ways that set them just a little apart from the rest of the group. Nerds, however, are unafraid to talk about their obsessions and may even be entertaining enough to hold an audience at times. They also tend to throw parties with fellow geeks, such as LAN parties in which friends gather with computers to play a game together in the same room. In my experience, most nerds are actually a lot more sociable than they're commonly given credit for.
Dr. Seuss and Nerds
Dr. Seuss is attributed with coining the term "nerd" in 1954. It appears in a line from the book If I Ran the Zoo in which the narrator, Gerald McGrew, says: "A nerkle, a nerd, and a seersucker too!"
Definition of a Nerd
There are many different definitions out there for how to tell if someone is a nerd. Part of this is because of the many branches of the nerdosphere that have specific attributes suited to their interests (referred to as "obsessions" in the Venn diagram). One thing is certain, however, a nerd is the one person in that diagram above that has all of the attributes of a dweeb, geek, and dork combined. Therefore, unlike the rest of them, it is a term that is not used as an insult and can actually be something that many people out there are extremely proud of.
For example, I consider myself a booknerd, something that I have mentioned many times throughout my articles. To me, a booknerd is someone who gets excited about going to a new bookstore, whose arms will pile up as high as possible with books if there is a good enough sale, and a person who cannot get enough of reading and talking about books and authors. Furthermore, I feel that, as a nerd, it is my duty to be knowledgeable in the book realm enough to carry on an intelligent conversation with a fellow bibliomaniac.
The standard definition of a nerd tends to involve more computer use and the desire to see certain films and television shows and obsess over details and memorization for lines and other aspects. Like my own views of a proper book nerd, a real nerd has to be knowledgeable in whatever obsession they have, almost to the point of annoyance for some people out there. For example, if you cannot watch a film without spouting out random facts or reciting every line out loud along with the actors, you are probably a nerd.
There are some out there who consider themselves nerds and dress the part, both as a badge of nerdness and as a fashion statement that coincides with their obsession. For example, one person I know that is a major television and movie nerd almost always wears a t-shirt depicting a line or other recognizable image attributed to well known TV shows and films. On the other hand, some nerds simply go with the standard glasses and button up shirt look. Dressing the part isn't necessary, but it is a sure way to tell is someone is a nerd.
Basically, if a person has random knowledge of stuff that most people think is extremely unimportant, as well as a collection of action figures and other memorabilia that the average person thinks belongs in a twelve year old's room, rather than on display in a twenty-plus-year-old person's living room, that person is probably a nerd. While there are those out there who consider being called a nerd an insult, nerds themselves tend to have no shame. If you are learning how to tell if someone is a nerd out of concern for that person or even yourself, have no fear. Nerds are here to stay and, some believe, are about to take over the world, especially as technology becomes ever more prevalent.
How to Tell if Someone is a Nerd: Nerd Jokes
© 2012 Lisa
Ruff on July 09, 2019:
hello im not sure if im a nerd
oof on March 20, 2019:
Hell no I'm not a nerd
Shylah on January 07, 2019:
Boo I’m not a nerd
Jodie on May 27, 2018:
I always thought nerds, geeks, dweebs and dorks were all the same thing.
Prince Malik on March 22, 2018:
My IQ is of Genius level, but I like being boringly studious and I love to do science thing, is the intersection of genius and Nerd an empty set, or is there any term for it?
Donna Ross on October 16, 2017:
I don't have one specific thing of being a nerd.I like different things.It doesn't matter what it is.I like being different from everybody else.That means I am not boring.
Lisa (author) from WA on March 02, 2013:
I actually mentioned in this article that it's a term most are proud of. It's not an insult, otherwise I wouldn't call myself a nerd and neither would these other commenters above yours.
Jean Valerie Kotzur nee Stoneman from Germany on March 02, 2013:
Have you ever thought of calling all these people just 'human beings' with their own peculiarities and strong points. Here, in Europe, these words don't mean anything and I have no idea if they are insulting or not. Perhaps there is a population of young people here in Europe who are up to date with these things, but I think that is as far as it goes.
Any lack of social skills I may have had seem to have disappeared with time. I assume this will also apply to all the nerds etc.
Sushmita from Kolkata, India on February 01, 2013:
Lisa, your Hub profile bears proof of your status- however whether you are a Geek or a Nerd can be decided by only you. :)
As a young adolescent, I thought I lacked social skills- however I guess I lost those qualifiers on the way to adulthood- so I cannot any longer claim being too nerdy, unfortunately.
Wonderful topic to choose to write on and very well executed. Sharing.
Nancy Yager from Hamburg, New York on December 13, 2012:
I must say some of my best friends are nerds. I think they are attracted to me. Gotta love them.
jmartin1344 from Royal Oak, Michigan on December 12, 2012:
Nice hub Lisa, apparently I'm a Dweeb!
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 12, 2012:
LOL...too funny, Lisa! I guess I'm a nerd; I know I was in school. Now I think, with maturity, I've brought nerdness to a higher level. :)
Ken Taub from Long Island, NY on December 12, 2012:
Love the Venn Diagram, love the rapid fire nerd humor. Fun stuff Lisa. best, Ken