Everyone will be familiar with the modern term Geek, meaning an expert in a technical field, and possibly a person with limited social skills.

However, did you know it was an archaic term used in carnivals to mean a performer of grotesque acts? How that transferred to the modern usage is uncertain.

Going even further back, Geek came from the English Geck meaning a fool, and in turn from the Germanic Geck meaning to croak or cackle.

Still want to self-identify as a geek?

· · Web · 4 · 1 · 8

I don't think "limited social skills" is you.

@fitheach But that's a 'Nerd' 😊
Geeks like stuff like roleplaying, fan conventions etc. So being with others is fine, but only when it comes to one of their (many) special interests.
Nerds are the ones to prefer 'proper social distancing'.
Let her explain it for me:

The whole existence of geeks/nerds was to prepare for this moment in time when social isolation became the thing.

@fitheach And trust me, being an HSP helps too. I can stay home for days on end without missing (out on) anything/anyone. I am a geeky HSP *now imagine loud, booming voice*

@fitheach @Bella to chime in on the "social isolation" thing. I was thinking these days about it, quite a few chances. I go to my yard - many people around our house, everybody talking, being loud, prepping gardens for summer. Go to parks/nearby forests. Full of people. That's not isolation, not distancing. I worked with a swedish guy a few years ago. His house was ~100km from Stockholm, on a hill, no (decent) internet, nearest neighbour on the next hill over. THAT is isolation.What we have is inconvenient.

@Bella @fitheach Going by that explanation I should be a nerd. I always thought of myself as a geek though.

Ahh, interesting. Is being a geek more desirable than being a nerd? Is nerd more negative than geek?

I've not explored this before. 😃


@fitheach @Bella To me personally it is, but I am not a native speaker so my connotations may be different. If someone calls me a geek, I'm totally fine with that. If they call me a nerd, not quite. For example, I may be a computing scientist, but I am not a computer nerd.

Regardless, you have picked up a more negative connotation for nerd. That is something you have likely taken from native speakers.


@fitheach @Bella Well, I've lived in Scotland 20 years. I'd hope to have gotten a little bit more "native" 🙂

@fitheach I don't think it's more negative, just different. @wim_v12e

@Bella If people want to label me, I prefer if they use a label I can agree with. It does not me the other labels are negative per se.


@fitheach That transfer might be uncertain but it does seem pretty bleeding obvious. I've always taken the ensuing self-identification as an example of adopting an insult to take the sting out of it.

The word has moved from meaning a fool or some sub-human performing grotesque acts to a smart person who understands a technical subject. I'd say that is quite some change.

@fitheach I think there's still a tinge of insult in it.

Agreed. Was there always a tinge of insult in the word geek?

How does the word geek differ from nerd? The mostly seem to be used interchangeably.

@fitheach I think originally both geek and nerd were intended as insults of a sort, or at least as being somewhat dismissive. “Jock” was the equivalent insult going the other way.

@fitheach Sure I do... I think it is better to "take back" a derogatory word and make it positive.

We are told not to use them but it is often the sentiment really and not the actual word we should disallow.

Absolutely. Words are exactly what we make them.

Did geek (techie expert) always have a slightly negative aspect? I can't remember if it used to be positive only.

I think some of the negative connotrations of geek comes from people who are envious of their technical abilities.

@fitheach I think it is perhaps during the two last decades it changed from negative to positive... because technology normalized. I have also noticed "hacker" has also become more positive the last 5 years or so.

I always correct people when they use hacker to mean someone who breaks into computer systems. I'm never sure if that is effective or they just resent me for doing it. 😃

@fitheach Yeah, the change I have seen is mostly in the youth... they use it like we used "ninja" before.

Yes, I did notice that, but lack of space meant I couldn't mention it.

There must've been a huge overlap between Old English and Dutch. Over time English must have drifted somewhat due to the influence of French and non-European languages.

Sign in to participate in the conversation

The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Own your data with Mastodon!