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?

@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.

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!