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Geeks vs. Nerds

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In the ongoing battle between geek and nerd, one must take sides, but how can this be done without a solid argument for both personas? We here at Masters In IT (a mix of nerds and geeks) decided that it's time to lay all the cards on the table to determine which is better and answer the question some fear to know: Are you a geek, or a nerd?


The terms geek and nerd may sometimes seem synonymous, but they have very different roots in history:

Nerd: This term was coined from Dr. Seuss in 1954 in a line that read "A nerkle, a nerd, and a seersucker too!" - So really nerkle and seersucker are synonymous with nerd

Geek: While used as a derogatory term originally, the word "geek" gained popularity in the circus. Circus performers that performed amazing feats were Geeks

Nerd Traits:

  • Extreme interest or fascination with academics
  • Introverted
  • Socially Inept
  • Diverse and sometimes impractical skillets due to broad interests in games, movies, science, computers, etc.
  • A PC
  • Interest might include: Battlestar Galactica (BSG), LARPing, SecondLife, Physics, Chess, Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Computer programming

Likely nerd jobs:

  • Rocket scientist
  • Reclusive and renowned professor
  • Computer programmer
  • Engineer
  • IT professional
  • Inventor
  • Or work at a video store

Nerd Talk:

You know you're talking to a nerd when they insert obscure references into a sentence:

"There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who don't."

"I would love to change the world, but they won't give me the source code."

"The box said 'Requires Windows 95 or better' so I installed LINUX."

Nerd Love: nerds marry other nerds, it's the natural state of the universe."

Geek Traits:

  • Someone with a specifc niche interest/lifestyle that they have become the expert on
  • A fan of gadgets
  • An early adopter
  • A Mac
  • Wears ironic t-shirts
  • Can be pretentious and longwinded
  • Knowledge can range from mundane to "living encyclopedia" status
  • Interests might include gaming, film (both artsy and anything Will Ferrel stars in), collecting, gadgets/tech, computing, coding, hacking, techno music, screen printing, etc.

Likely geek jobs:

  • Web design/development
  • IT professional
  • Marketer
  • Graphic designer
  • Game designer/developer
  • Barista at an indie coffee shop
  • Entrepreneur
  • Record store
  • Bartender

Geek Talk:

You know you're talking to a geek when they remind you of their "hip" lifestyle by discussing their "cool" habits or dropping pop culture references:

"There's nothing like kicking it to some crunchy bass while enjoying a good Malbec"

"60% of the time it works all the time"

[while pulling out their iPhone] "Let me pull out my pocket iPad"

Geek Love: geeks can fall for and marry non-geeks


  • 17% of Americans identify as geeks
  • 65% of video game designers identify as geeks
  • 50% of technology engineers identify as geeks
  • 37% of bloggers identify as geeks
  • 87% of people prefer the word "geek" over "nerd"
  • 66% of millennials think "geek" is a compliment
  • 45% of people believe geeks are early adopters
  • 31% of people believe geeks have a higher chance of being successful
  • On average, self-identifed geeks have a better view of themselves than others view geeks
  • 41% of people would be comfortable called a geek while only 24% would be comfortable called a nerd
  • A geek would rather be called a geek over a hipster (23% are OK with being called hipster while 41% are OK with being called a geek)