Chez Songbird

One of the Eternal Questions

Tonight at dinner, we raised a very important question, but reached no agreement. And so, gentle readers, I present it to you.

Geeks and Nerds: the same? different? or are Nerds merely a subset of Geeks?

Please discuss.

22 thoughts on “One of the Eternal Questions”

  1. hmm. at seminary we distinguished between the theology geeks and the bible nerds. but that be a localism. 😉

  2. Huh. I was thinking Geeks were a subset of Nerds, rather than the other way around.

  3. If I tell you Wesley Crusher is smarter than all the rest of them put together, does that make me a geek or a nerd?

  4. I think it owuld make you wrong if you count Data in the equation.
    Without Data you are probably right. Mind you I have been told that my inner geek and inner nerd are equally strong. (especially on church stuff)

  5. All I know, is that there is always something interesting (and often sexy) lurking just below the surface.

  6. I’m with Esperanza. Nerds are just generally smart – all around smart. Geeks have specificity. I’d assume that many (if not most) nerds have some subject or area of interest about which they are geeks, but I think one can be a geek (particularly over-educated about an area of interest) without being a nerd (super-smart across disciplines). At least that’s my use of the words.
    (I can’t believe I just defined that.)

  7. Originally, I thought geeks were nerds without hygiene. Thus, it was ok to be a nerd, but if you smelled bad and didn’t have social skills, you were a geek.
    However, I’m now prone to SheRev’s definition: nerds are generally nerdy, geeks are specifically geeky. So a geek obsesse over one area, while nerds generally all like Star Trek, making models, etc.
    (Yes, I’m a nerd…a jack of all trades nerd)

  8. Hmmm…thinking back to my days in middle school when there was another subset of Geekdom or Nerdom…called “smacks” because of “kissing up” to teachers. These were the bright Geeks and Nerds whom others felt didn’t fully deserve the grades they were getting.
    I have always felt that nerds were lower on the totem pole than geeks. Geeks were geeky because of intelligence where nerds were just the socially inept and weren’t nacessarily all that bright. At least that is my interpretation from my youth! hahaha!

  9. I think it is important to remember that while nerds have been around for a LONG time, Geeks only showed up at the beginning of the Age of Computers. They did arise from the ranks of Nerds, specifically those Nerds who signed up for Fortran and Cobal classes in the mid 1960s so they could program computers.
    So perhaps Geeks are actually a subset of Nerds and not the other way around?

  10. I’ve always considered geeks and nerds somewhat separately. Geeks definitely have brilliance in a technical field of knowledge -i.e. computer geek. Nerds tend to have brilliance in multiple areas, and they are the more socially inept. Geeks aren’t socially inept as much as they are one-track minded; they have so much tunnel vision aroound their area of specialty, that they are unaware of social norms. This is an interesting topic!

  11. But what about theatre and/or music geeks? Aren’t we forgetting them? I was in that group in high school, back in the pre-computer days (or rather when computers were scarce), and artsy kids definitely stood apart from common, garden-variety nerds. In my humble opinion.

  12. My impression is that “geek” is the more respected-in-society term and doesn’t carry the same derogatory connotations as “nerd” does (or did when it was applied to me).
    I know many people who would self-identify as geeks in one area or another, but very few who would identify themselves as nerds–even among those who are aware that they have different social skills or difficulties relating to ‘normal’ society. But I wouldn’t like to extrapolate that to anyone outside my own peer group.

  13. Very good topic! I linked to you in my post and posted a test and results that I took to determine where I was on the scale.

  14. I think the terms nerd and geek are social terms and have nothing to do with intelligence. I think they are used specifically to say that someone is outside of the another group ie “popular”. Which is always an interesting notion to me because most people who seem to be in a “popular” group don’t recognize that designation or least minimize it. The terms seem to be terms that create a group around whatever population that holds themself separate for a specific reason…drama geeks, computer nerds, band geeks, etc etc. These seemingly stand apart from jocks, or popular kids. But in reality they are terms of setting people apart in population.

  15. Ahhh…but we had a totally different term, as I was one of them. It was “bandsie” if you were in band or orchestra~!

  16. I participated in a similar debate on facehook.
    The conclusion we came up with was this, a nerd is essentially disembodied. They are so much into their heads that they ignore their bodies (thus the bad hygiene) and they ignore social cues of others (thus the social ineptitude). Geeks on the other hand are folks with an interest in subject that it makes them different from the rest. For example, I am a church history geek. I love reading Augustine and Athanisius. However I am embodied enough to maintain good hygiene and social skills.

  17. I am a fiber geek. My grandson (Aspergers) is a social geek. Nerds are just people who aren’t fun to be around. IMHO

  18. I’d say that Geeks already have all the information scarily at hand in more than one discipline……
    Nerds obsessively pursue one particular discipline at length, possessing quite a bit of it’s knowledge but not yet all……
    And it they combine, then they achieve the very unpleasant Gerd

  19. Long, long ago I was not a geek or a nerd but a “bowmar” (said with appropriate north of Boston accent) – Bowmar was the first hand held calculator. I didn’t like that term. I don’t like “nerd” either. Geek sounds better. Really, I was just a little bit smart and a lot perfectionist and even more worked my butt off. So call it what you will. Now, at my school we also had (please pardon the term) “band fags” – I can’t believe I would even use the words now. How absolutely terrible. I married a guy who was in the band at his high school. Even now I wish I had learned an instrument myself.
    Labels. Yuck.

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