What’s the difference between a geek and a nerd?

geeks vs nerds

“You’re a geek!”, “You’re a nerd!” I am sure it not the first time you’ve seen a nerd or a geek. I am most certain you have seen or know the ‘The Big bang theory‘, the famous tv show with a group of interesting nerd / geek scientists. But what does it really mean to be a geek or a nerd? And more importantly, what is the difference between them? Is it a compliment, an offense, or what? It can result in confusion, especially since there are combinations between nerd and geek. This article will help you understand the differences between the two and clarify this long going debate one for all.

Definition of being geek

You have to understand the origin of being geek

To really understand the geeks today, you need to get to the root of the geek world. In the early 1900s, when the rolling carnivals were very popular, there was an artist whose name was “geek”, his job was to present strange and disgusting acts to entertain the audience. For example he was known for taking the heads of live chickens with a bite.

Compare it to the geeks of today

Currently and fortunately the geeks of today are not known by taking the heads off chickens. In fact, they are known as people with much knowledge, even to the point of being obsessed about a topic.

Thanks to computer programmers and other technologies we are now able define geeks, this term has been popularized. Geeks can be obsessed by anything in particular. A geek can be obsessed by a movie such as Lord of the Rings would know every detail of the movie, its history, characters…

To explain a little more, it is important to note that geeks are usually sociable. Although are fascinated by what makes them unique, it is unlikely that you know your geek, unless they themselves tell you.

Leonard Leakey Hofstadter from the popular tv show The big bang is a perfect example of a geek.

Definition of being nerd

Discover the origin of the term “nerd”

The word “nerd” was apparently first used in 1954, by a young man named Dr. Seuss, in one of his verses, saying “something simple, nerd or square”. If you do not want to refer to someone with common words like “nerd”, you can use the word “simplistic”.

The most common connotation given to the word is confusing, smart but let face it, it not always attractive, and who does not pursue any goals in the social sphere?

Nerds are not usually sociable people, neither are they interested in sport or outside activities. They usually self focused but very smart in what they do. That why nerds usually end up with a very high salary.

When Sheldon cooper from the popular tv show The big bang is a perfect example of a nerd, his best friend and roommate Leonard Leakey Hofstadter as previously mentioned, is a perfect example of a geek.

Comparing geeks and nerds

Compare your communication skills

Geeks and nerds can have characteristics in common, or may not, but when you know what they want in life, differences begin to show.

A nerds like to use slang or unusual terminology in his dialogues, while the geeks often make use of dark or sarcastic references.

For example, a nerd might say “That’s a hall effect that has been overused. The Stage Manager for its acronym in English (SD) must have no desire to work. ”

A geek in the same situation would say “Oh! I love how Peter Jackson uses the Wilhelm Scream in each of his films “.

Usually geeks care about every detail of life, such as realizing that the situation in which they find themselves, like some of you have read in the newspaper or a novel. In contrast to the nerds do not care much every detail of daily life, so they are more focused on what happens at a general level, for example, seek answers in science and the future of humanity.


You will know them according to their choice of games, movies, devices or cloths.

A geek can enjoy board games, watching movies (so they can pursue the career of a director, composer or chief engineers), technological devices, to make “piracy” and techno music.

A nerd enjoys solitary activities such as programming and socializes in Second Life pages, or games like chess and warcraft.

Social skills

Although both are a bit obsessed with their passion, they are very different when they interact in normal situations.

A geek has regular social skills, but may be prone to being pretentious and talk too much, especially when it comes to talk about a subject he/she is passionate about. At that time they will not let go without first explain every little detail of a widget, theory or any other subject of interest, and of course the whole story of the team that invented it.

Usually, a nerd is more introverted. They can have the same knowledge as a geek about a topic, but on the contrary, they are not so talkative.

Love and relationship

It is claimed that geeks have no problem with falling in love with people who are not geeks (Leonard Leakey Hofstadter, Ph.D., the fictional character on the CBS television series The Big Bang Theory is a geek who fall in love with penny, a normal attractive girl who is neither geek or nerd) but for nerds it a different story as they always fall in love with other nerds. This could be their strategy for survival, although no one knows for sure.

Work and Career

Although it is known that the nerds and geeks are equally academically intelligent, they follow very different paths.

Besides being the cool guys within the IT industry, geeks also opt for artistic jobs like web design, graphic design, or game design. Although you could also find them behind the counter of a record store, or making espresso coffee in a sale. They are more chameleons and can adjust easily to different atmospheres.

Nerds prefer jobs with a different approach. You can find nerds who are working as rocket scientists or software programmers, or in a technical support department. They usually work as engineers, inventors, or even a smart inmate who knows almost no daylight. Perhaps you could find behind the counter of an online video store.

Have fun trying to find the differences

It’s fun to distinguish stereotypes and laugh about it. Remember that most geeks have some nerd quality, like most nerds have some geek qualities. Sometimes the line between them is not easy distinguished, also we must take into account the following two definitions of the Urban Dictionary:

  • Nerd: a single-minded expert in a particular technical field.
  • Geek: engage in or discuss computer-related tasks obsessively or with great attention to technical detail.


  • To hook a geek or a nerd in a conversation, be prepared to recognize that there is something fundamentally interesting in that topic that haunts them. You may not understand it completely, but just accept what they saying.
  • Both are intelligent, and most probably know more than you. So do not underestimate them.
  • The interests of geeks are commonly mocked or contempt by those who do not know how to value them. Even nerds are mocked or disregarded by those who do not understand them.
  • Someone may be a nerd or a geek unknowingly and therefore does not identify with them but instead always striving to be popular.
  • Usually nerds do not feel the need to defend themselves against attacks on their interests, since they simply do not care about the opinion of others. Geeks are typically very energetic, and take any opportunity to discuss a topic they care about, just to convince others of its value.
  • Some nerds believe their interests are “high value to humanity, but humanity do not always know it”.
  • Usually geeks are able to see beyond the immediate value of an object and calculate its value in the future.
  • Both nerds and geeks, by their nature, will never be popular or accepted by the majority. All they can do is be a little more open and understanding to others.

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