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nerd

Contributor(s): Joan Maltese

A nerd is a technically bright but socially inept person. The classic image of the nerd has been the wild-haired genius kid with thick-lensed glasses surrounded by test tubes and computers. Microsoft's Bill Gates is sometimes considered the walking embodiment of the older, successful nerd. As computer technology becomes less frightening and "nerdish" to larger numbers of people, society seems to be developing a more tolerant, even benevolent view of the nerd.

Although the term's origin is obscure, one theory is that it derives from a children's book by Dr. Seuss, If I Ran the Zoo , in which this passage is found:

And then, just to show them,
I'll sail to Ka-Troo
And bring back an it-kutch,
A preep, and a proo,
A nerkle, a nerd,
And a seersucker, too!"

Nerd is a more general term than geek and weenie and is somewhat comparable to propellor head .

This was last updated in August 2006

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