From Academic Kids

Missing image
Concept drawing of a geek

A geek is a person who is fascinated, perhaps obsessively, by technology and imagination. Geek may not always have the same meaning as the term nerd (see nerd for a discussion of the disputed relation between the terms).

The definition of geek has changed considerably over the years. Below are some definitions of the word "geek", in order from newer to oldest. All are still in use.

  • G.E.E.K. as an acronym came from the United States Military. It stands for General Electrical Engineering Knowledge. It is unclear if this was the origin of the current meaning for geek, or if the acronym was used in a joking way toward the pre-established meaning for geek (a backronym).
  • A person who swallows live animals, bugs, etc., as a form of entertainment at fairs etc. This often included biting the heads off of chickens. The Geek would usually perform in a "geek pit." This probably comes from the Scottish geck, meaning 'fool', in turn from Low German. 19th century

This definition is now mostly used to define a nerd, not a geek

  • A derogatory term for one with low social skills, often with average intelligence, as opposed to nerds, who are generally viewed as having low social skills but high intelligence. It is theorised that many of these people have Asperger's syndrome. Late 20th century

In an exhibitionist social experiment, Dr. Simon Ronald, a computer geek from Adelaide, Australia set out to determine public reaction to the term "geek." He arranged white teeshirts with GEEK printed on one and CODER1 printed on another. These are observations from lunchtime walks through the busy streets of Adelaide over a six month period. "CODER1 raises a few eyebrows, but GEEK is a reliable headturner. Pedestrians breaking out into smiles as well as spontaneous sniggering and finger pointing. Strongest reaction is pity from the blue collar demographic where perhaps the word geek is associated more with vulgar social connotations. When quizzed about geek, people quipped: 'awkward', 'nerdy', 'space cadet', and 'socially incompetent'. Some said, 'Hey I like your t-shirt', but those tended to be tech types as well.

Geek has always had negative connotations within society at large, where being described as a geek tends to be an insult. The term has recently become less condescending, or even a badge of honor, within particular fields and subcultures; this is particularly evident in the technical disciplines, where the term is now more of a compliment denoting extraordinary skill. This may have in part been caused by the popularity of the Dilbert comic strip, though in the larger society, the geek classification is still a negative one.

A geek can be so absorbed in their imagination or that they exhibit the geeky 'lost-in-space' gaze, and may appear to be unresponsive due to their absorption in other thoughts or pursuits. The level of concentration and focus may feature at the expense of cultural plumage. Geeks are often considered technological monks - too busy working within their intellectual domain to do menial chores or worry about current trends.

Modern geeks run the gamut of society, with every shape, size, color, political stance, athletic ability, music taste and age accounted for. Most people would not recognize a modern geek by looking at them, as many do not fit into the old stereotypes of the pocket protector and black-rimmed glasses with white medical tape in the middle. Modern geeks are granted a certain amount of respect, as the technology they foster brings greater convenience to the lives of many.

Perhaps due to the high prevalence of High-Functioning Autism among geeks, especially Asperger's Syndrome, the INTP type of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is common in geekhood (description 1 (, description 2 (

"Geeks are their own society: a literate, hyperinformed underground" (What is a geek? (

Hackers tend to mostly be geeks, although the converse may not be true. (What is a hacker? (

The most popular Urban Dictionary definition for geek is acute in mirroring the general social acceptance for geeks - Geek, n. Someone who you beat up in high school, and end up working for in later life.

See also

External links

de:Geek es:Geek fi:Friikki fr:Geek it:Geek ja:おたく nl:Geek pl:Geek pt:Geek sv:Geek


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