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Word Play


Forget traditional definitions let’s be contemporary, okay? Tell me: what’s the difference between a “nerd,” a “geek” and a “dork”?

I’d like to get this straight.

Categories:  1: Featured  Pop Culture

Tags:  dork  geek  nerd  revenge of the nerds

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1 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 23, 2013 10:36 am

the differences as I see it:
nerd - (see photo above) a physically and socially awkward, untrendy, oblivious to current fashion and trends.
dork - socially clumsy person who is not physically awkward. Could look like the king or queen of the prom, but who snorts when they laugh. A dork is someone who is beyond quirky. A dork is also a cool person who gets geeked about a nerdy subject or trend.
geek - a person who has bookishly delved deep into a subject - so far that they've lost perspective. Also known as wonks.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Oct 23, 2013 10:45 am

But now Nerds rule the world. It's like when you attach porn to something--food porn, book porn. If you are an enthusiast--clothes nerd, book nerd, record nerd...baseball nerd! It's like being a nerd is now cool.

3 Steve Flack   ~  Oct 23, 2013 10:47 am


I always refer back to this Venn Diagram.

4 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 23, 2013 10:52 am

2) see I thought enthusiasts were geeks, i.e. baseball geek, record geek, etc. but that shows what I dork I am.

5 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 23, 2013 10:55 am

3) that's very helpful, but has the diagram changed since 2009? does it require updating?

6 Alex Belth   ~  Oct 23, 2013 10:56 am

See Dweeb doesn't even register to me. Dork is more insulting but in the best, and funniest way. It's still not harsh.

7 TheGreenMan   ~  Oct 23, 2013 11:17 am

Doesn't matter. They all blog about baseball from their mother's basement. ;)

8 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 23, 2013 11:17 am

yeah, I don't think any of them are harsh anymore. And maybe that's because how they're generally used these days. People mostly use them either to laugh at themselves or at a friend, or someone they admire.

9 TheGreenMan   ~  Oct 23, 2013 11:26 am

If using Sixteen Candles as a point of reference (and why wouldn't we?), a dork is also a dick.


10 thelarmis   ~  Oct 23, 2013 11:55 am

i love this thread! easily the best of the offseason and perhaps the entire year.

i wonder about these three all the time, including last night when I was teaching about the history of time signatures.

[8] that's spot on. i kinda use all 3 interchangeably in a self-deprecating fashion to my students: i'm a music dork; or, music geek; or, music nerd.

i definitely fit into this for baseball and records (well, CD's, more accurately...). And, of course, the aforementioned "music" category.

chicks wear t-shirts that say "i heart nerds", but you don't see the same for 'geeks' or 'dorks'. "nerds" make it to the movies, but the others don't - in title.

we "geek out" on things, but never "dork" out or "nerd" out.

what would you be called if you: wrote this post, commented on it, thoroughly enjoyed it! i dunno...

Nergeed Ork - kinda sounds like a villain in Middle Earth. need a spelling change on the "k". wow, i've gone beyond "geekdom". what would you call me now? (RI - don't answer that!)

11 Alex Belth   ~  Oct 23, 2013 12:09 pm

Yeah, chicks dig nerds. But do they dig geeks? Maybe not so much. Emily calls me a nerd and a dork but rarely a geek.

12 thelarmis   ~  Oct 23, 2013 12:21 pm


13 thelarmis   ~  Oct 23, 2013 12:22 pm

daylight savings will put the banter clock back to normal for 6 months!

lookin' forward to falling back (for that purpose!)...

14 GaryfromChevyChase   ~  Oct 23, 2013 1:22 pm

Sorry being late to this thread. I had to go change my pants after reading some of the comments (that makes me a dork I guess).

[1] Living near DC, there is definitely a difference between a geek and a wonk. A wonk is a student of a policy matter, who would like to be a geek, but that means really knowing things of substance instead of arguing about them. Example: Al Gore is a global climate policy wonk, but aspires to be a climate change geek.

[11] The daughter calls me a dork all the time (most recently because I was wearing cut off jean shorts). Never have been called a geek.

Also, I know lots of nerdy little kids who somehow, when they grow up, lose their nerdness.

15 illchemist   ~  Oct 23, 2013 1:50 pm

I think "nerd" carries a studious connotation to it, versus an obsessive one for a "geek" even though the subject of study or fandom can be the same. Since I consider myself a music nerd (and a bit of a baseball nerd, too) I would say that the difference between "nerd" and "geek" can be subtle. A "dork" is someone who is purposely (or maybe accidentally) socially awkward or inept. "Dork" is a harsher term, more like a-hole.

16 edoubletrouble   ~  Oct 23, 2013 2:23 pm

Al B - is this the first time you've played Word Play at the Banter? I love it. You got some funny heads here. Some could call them geeks or nerds but not dorkie, youknowhatimsayin'?!

17 edoubletrouble   ~  Oct 23, 2013 2:27 pm

[15] What's up Ill C. Dude, you're a BIG fat music nerd. Your shit is still ringin' in my ears! ... Every day in every way, youfeelme?!

18 Ben   ~  Oct 23, 2013 2:57 pm

Yeah, I'm of the school where nerd and geek are pretty closely related, both having to do with studiosness or passion for a particular subject which makes you slightly uncool. Course uncool is the new cool. But dork, never heard that in a kind way. Maybe playful... But a dad wearing cut-off shorts a la 1980's Juicy Fruit commercials, and maybe even thinking they're cool... total dork-a-saurus. and I say that as a owner of such choices.

Can you use the three words to describe 3 roles played by John Cusack?

Sixteen candles - nerd
One crazy summer - dork ?
Say Anything - geek

19 rbs   ~  Oct 23, 2013 3:08 pm

Speaking as someone who works in an office of 150 people where half or more have PhDs in the physical sciences, I see plenty of nerds very day. Some geeks, and few dorks.

Main thing I think of in differentiating between nerds and geeks is that the geeks seem to have a more obvious physical reaction when the discussion goes somewhere that interests them, i.e., "he's geeking out" or "oh god, he's having a geekasm." Seriously, there was one programmer who used to work here who seemed on the verge of an epileptic fit when the topic excited him, and he was the epitome of geek.

Also, I've met plenty of female nerds but I can't recall the last female geek that I met.

20 Chyll Will   ~  Oct 23, 2013 3:08 pm

My niece usually calls me "stupid". I guess that's a combi >;)

21 Alex Belth   ~  Oct 23, 2013 3:10 pm

16) First time we've played it, Weese. Feel free to email more word challenges though. This could be funski.

22 Ken Arneson   ~  Oct 23, 2013 3:46 pm

To me, a nerd and a dork and a dweeb are almost synonyms of each other as an awkward type of person, but a geek is something different. A geek is someone who "geeks out" on a particular subject in depth. They may or may not be awkward at all.

If you say someone's a "baseball geek", that person studies baseball in depth, but may be socially and physically normal. A "baseball nerd", on the other hand, would be a baseball geek who is also awkward in some way.

23 Ara Just Fair   ~  Oct 23, 2013 4:43 pm

I call my wife's group of friends the "nerd herd." Geeks are more spazzy. In any event they both should be wary of the "hoods." Those were the jean jacket wearing smokers back in my burbs in the 80's.

24 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Oct 23, 2013 7:37 pm

Great thread. I saw a photo of Kevin Durant last year wearing a backpack and glasses..has NBA fashion embraced nerd-style?

Over here the word 'otaku' is roughly equivalent. First used for animation/manga comic 'nerds', eventually embraced and used with pride in their culture. I proudly identify as a 'music otaku!

25 Chyll Will   ~  Oct 23, 2013 7:43 pm

[24] Welcome to the NHK! >;)

26 Boatzilla   ~  Oct 23, 2013 9:22 pm

[24] Aaah, but "otaku" has a darker, creepier element, Jazz.

Perhaps you were in the States at the times, but the origin of otaku was to identify socially inept dudes who live with their parents, post H.S. or college, hole themselves up in their rooms with the PC, video games, kiddie porn, manga (including sexy manga character dolls) and Cup Noodle.

Unable to connect with anyone in the real world, at some point, some of them act out their depraved fantasies by killing children, young ladies (often in serial fashion) or their overbearing moms.

Now, the word is more tame, I agree, but the roots are rotten.

27 Ben   ~  Oct 24, 2013 8:04 am

So I asked my 9 year old son last night what these words meant and this is what he said.

"A nerd is someone who wears glasses, is kindof a smart alec and has a scientist for a father."

"A geek is someone who smells funny, has awkward eyes and maybe a false tooth."

"A dork, wait, kind of like a geek and a nerd. Wait. What did I say for nerd again..."

So there you have it, make sense of these at your own peril.

28 Alex Belth   ~  Oct 24, 2013 2:40 pm

27) Sound effect of Revenge of the Nerds laughter.

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