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(21,925 posts)
Sat Mar 23, 2013, 04:43 PM Mar 2013

The differences between nerds, geeks, dorks, and dweebs

I never quite understood the differences between these categories. I'm only half American and in my youth I attended some schooling in Europe where there were no special words to describe certain young people with intellectual interests (in fact everyone at school aspired to be an intellectual, or else, and there were no jocks or cheerleaders nor people with pocket protectors).

According to a consolidation of the definitions I have found online:

Geek: Someone who spends a lot of time and energy in a certain special but conventional area, like computer programming or trouble-shooting, but not necessarily computers or technology. You can apparently have chess geeks, guitar geeks, or cooking geeks. A geek is an outwardly normal person who can relate to others in general but who has taken the time to learn specific technical skills and would rather talk about their special obsession than anything else. They are generally not athletic and enjoy sedentary pursuits like video games, comic books, being on the internet, etc. They usually dress to suit their special interest, which can be flamboyant, such as wearing a tee-shirt describing their special obsession or a hat bearing a logo of their special pursuit. Geeks can be self-confident and proud of their traits.

Nerd: Someone with a great interest in academic subjects like math and science and who is socially awkward and has trouble relating to others outside of their fields of academia. Their IQ often exceeds their weight. Science fiction such as The Matrix and Star Wars or LOTR are often their cup of tea, as are hobbies like astronomy or chemistry sets. Nerds usually dress conservatively and are more interested in the mind than their outward appearance, although as both men and women they tend to be tidy, clean-cut, and hygienic. Nerds generally are self-confident in the academic setting and take pride in their intellect and band together with other nerds although their social skills outside of their academic obsession are diminished.

Dork: Someone who has special interests like a geek but whose interests and obsessions are less common and odd, such as having an oddball collection of some sort like old Three Stooges bubblegum cards or an uncommon skill like yodeling. Walking talking Star Trek encyclopedic knowledge and convention dress up obsessions can be considered dorky. They can act silly at times and not care what anyone thinks. Dorks are typically more noted for their quirky personality and tend to be loners. Hygiene can sometimes be an issue. Dorks can nonetheless be self-confident and proud of the way they are because they simply don’t care what others think.

Dweeb: A person who tends to be regarded as physically wimpish, intellectually challenged, and socially awkward, with little self-confidence. Dweebs tend to be obsessed with unusual pursuits like dorks (tap dancing or ant farms) but are lacking in skill, knowledge, or ability. Dweebs tend to be loners like dorks but understand their shortcomings and lack pride. Hygiene can also be an issue.

The Venn diagram I believe is contrary to the commonly accepted categories I have seen on the Internet to the extent that it has dorks and dweebs reversed as far as intelligence is concerned. From what I’ve read, dweebs are dumber than dorks, although I don't suppose all the definitions I've seen are set in stone.

As mentioned, I never encountered these categories in foreign cultures and I find it fascinating that they exist. I’m not saying I like these categories and I don’t use these terms to describe any people I know, as I think they might be used in some cases as a put down, although some people apparently refer to their own behavior or that of friends as “geeking out” or “nerdy” as a sign of its cuteness. I just find it odd that I didn’t find these categories in other cultures I’ve experienced. I think a lot of people might share traits of all four categories. I know my obsession with violin and guitar when I was a kid probably was geeky and affected my social interactions and personally I think I’m probably more nerd than anything else, although I have had some strange obsessions that might bring me into the dork category, especially like spelunking when I was a kid.

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The differences between nerds, geeks, dorks, and dweebs (Original Post) aint_no_life_nowhere Mar 2013 OP
Is it possible to be all of these things olddots Mar 2013 #1
Looks like I'm a geek. In_The_Wind Mar 2013 #2
Geekerds Unite! Duer 157099 Mar 2013 #3
I'd describe myself as a nerd, but apparently I need to lose weight first. Scuba Mar 2013 #4
Interesting... Ron Obvious Mar 2013 #5
We used to think of dorks as sorta derp-ish. dixiegrrrrl Mar 2013 #6
Looks like I'm a nerd IrishEyes Mar 2013 #7
Somebody called? OriginalGeek Mar 2013 #8
Message auto-removed Name removed Nov 2015 #9

Ron Obvious

(6,261 posts)
5. Interesting...
Sat Mar 23, 2013, 08:46 PM
Mar 2013

I grew up in Europe too, and I've made the same observations you have. Furthermore, it seems that American nerds and geeks are far more socially inept and loathed than they are elsewhere, probably because of the anti-intellectualism of American culture and because 'popularity' is so important in school here. Nerds get treated like lepers and are even more socially inept here because of it is my theory.

Self-described nerd and geek here. My (American) wife says "thank God you at least don't look like one".


(60,010 posts)
6. We used to think of dorks as sorta derp-ish.
Sat Mar 23, 2013, 09:43 PM
Mar 2013

"dork" and doofus" were interchageble descriptions, back in the 60's.

Response to aint_no_life_nowhere (Original post)

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