nerd also nurd (nûrd)
n. Slang 1) A foolish, inept, or unattractive person. 2) A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept.
[Origin unknown.]
nerd’y adj.
Word History: The first known occurrence of the word nerd, undefined but illustrated, dates from 1950 and is found in If I Ran the Zoo, a children's book by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel). The book's narrator lists various imaginary creatures that he would keep in the zoo if he were allowed to run it, whatever objections other people might raise to his projects: "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!" (The nerd is a small humanoid creature looking comically angry.) The next known attestation of nerd appears in the October 8, 1951, issue of Newsweek, in which the slang of American youth is described: "In Detroit, someone who once would be called a drip or a square is now, regrettably, a nerd, or in a less severe case, a scurve." Authorities disagree on whether the two words—the name of Dr. Seuss's creature and the 1950s teenage slang term—are related. Some maintain that Dr. Seuss is the true originator of nerd and that the word nerd ("comically unpleasant creature") was picked up by the six-year-olds of 1950 and quickly passed on to their older siblings, who restricted and specified the meaning to the most comically obnoxious creature of their own class, a "square." Others claim that there is no connection between the two and propose other origins for nerd, such as an alteration of the word turd. It has also been suggested that nerd comes from Mortimer Snerd, the name of a dummy depicting a comically stupid yokel that was used by the American ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, one of the most popular performers of the 1930s and 1940s. In support of this theory, the noted scholar of American slang J.E. Lighter points out that Mortimer Snerd was used in a 1941 work as a nickname for a fellow of the kind that might today be called nerdy. Strong evidence for any of these theories is lacking, however, and the ultimate origin of nerd remains unknown.

Word Histories. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • nerdy — (adj.) 1978, from NERD (Cf. nerd) + Y (Cf. y) (2). Related: Nerdiness …   Etymology dictionary

  • Nerdy — Nerd Pour les articles homonymes, voir Nerd (homonymie). Un nerd (prononcer neurde), dans le domaine des stéréotypes de la culture populaire, est un terme anglais désignant une personne solitaire et intelligente, à la fois socialement handicapée… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • nerdy — [[t]nɜ͟ː(r)di[/t]] nerdier, nerdiest ADJ GRADED (disapproval) If you describe someone as nerdy, you think that they are a nerd or look like a nerd. [INFORMAL] The Internet is widely believed to be the preserve of nerdy types who never exercise …   English dictionary

  • nerdy — adjective see nerd * * * nerdy [nerdy nerdier nerdiest] ; adjective • He looked kind of nerdy …   Useful english dictionary

  • nerdy — adj gormless, ineffectual, characteristic of a nerd. The adjective postdates the noun. He favoured dark business suits, dark ties that hung straight down against his white shirts, and a short nerdy Afro. (Where Did Our Love Go?, Nelson George,… …   Contemporary slang

  • nerdy — nerd ► NOUN informal ▪ a person who lacks social skills or is boringly studious. DERIVATIVES nerdish adjective nerdy adjective. ORIGIN of unknown origin …   English terms dictionary

  • nerdy — adjective see nerd …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • nerdy — /nerr dee/, adj., nerdier, nerdiest. Slang. of or like a nerd. [1975 80; NERD + Y1] * * * …   Universalium

  • nerdy — adjective Of or like a nerd. Syn: nerdish …   Wiktionary

  • nerdy — nÉœrdɪ / nɜːd adj. unpopular or unfashionable; of or pertaining to nerds …   English contemporary dictionary

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