Tor.com content by

Sean Kelley

A Nerd is a Geek is a Nerd is a Geek

When I was a wee human, I was introduced to the terms “nerd” and “geek.” As a bookish child who was prone to crying and wore glasses that took up the vast majority of the real estate of my face, I was introduced to these terms via insult. “You are such a nerd!” and “Look at that geek reading the encyclopedia cover to cover! What a geeky thing for a geek to do!” (I really did read the encyclopedia cover to cover when I was in the sixth grade.)

I learned very quickly that “geek” and “nerd” meant the same thing in this context—someone who was socially awkward and also smart. And I learned that these terms were meant to be derogatory. Smart and awkward were apparently not good things to be.

Now, twentyish years later, some funny things have happened. Nerd- and geek-pride has become more prevalent in our technology-driven culture where superhero movies dominate the box office landscape. The terms “nerd” and “geek” have become badges of honor to many people (myself included). And more interestingly, the definitions of nerd and geek have evolved to mean separate things.

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