Nerd vs. Geek vs. Dork


There seems to be some confusion about what constitutes a nerd, a geek, or a dork.  I weighed this very carefully when deciding what to name this blog (that I was convinced no one but my Mom would ever read).  I very nearly called this whole venture “Hot Geek Girl” but after several discussions with friends (who are also nerdy/geeky/dorky) we came to the conclusion that “Nerd” was the most accurate description of my near obsession with all things sci-fi, fantasy and comic book related.

That being said, I call myself a “geek” and a “dork” all the time.  As far as I’m concerned, all three terms are a compliment and I figure I fit into all categories in some way or another.  So this post is NOT an attempt to start a definition war, it IS an exploration into terminology that many people have very strong opinions about.

After yet another round of discussions with friends and fellow nerds, here is the Dictionary’s definition and then our definition.





–noun Slang .

1. a stupid, irritating, ineffectual, or unattractive person.

2. an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit: a computer nerd.


My feeling is that a Nerd is more pop-culture oriented. They like sci-fi, fantasy, comic books, etc. They can rattle off trivia with Wikipedia-esque relish and detail. They know how warp drives and flux capacitors work and might even try to build them for personal use. They have costumes, props and collectibles and have most likely reenacted at least one fictional futuristic battle. They go to conventions and convene in chat groups online to share knowledge and learn minute details about their favorite shows. They go to movies on opening day. I say sci-fi/fantasy, but really this is applies to any group. There are definitely a lot of sports nerds/geeks out there (and they are all on ESPN) but a lot of people that would qualify as a “nerd” are people that like the really out there stuff, like competitive table tennis. Which in the US might come off as incredibly nerdy, but in China, totally cool.

Celeb examples: Kevin Smith, Nicolas Cage




–noun Slang .

1. a computer expert or enthusiast (a term of pride as self-reference, but often considered offensive when used by outsiders.)

2. a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual.

3. a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts, as biting off the head of a live chicken.


I’ve always felt that geeks were more technology oriented.  They focus more on computers, video games and gadgetry. If you geek out on things like wine, food or art, congratulations, you’re a hipster. Geeks usually own a ton of t-shirts with obscure gamer references that most people wouldn’t understand.  They are first in line when the new iPhone comes out.  There’s a good chance they play Mob Wars or Angry Birds.  They can hack into their schools database and change everyone’s SAT scores.  A lot of gamers might classify themselves as geeks but if they can’t code a game for you, they’re just a gamer in my book. And ain’t nuthin wrong with that. Typically they’re that person at the party that keeps talking because they have so much info they find so interesting and they want to share it with you very, very badly but who eventually ends up not talking to anyone and instead goes home and programs/builds something that turns into a billion dollars. This is how Facebook was born.

Celeb examples: Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison





–noun Slang .

1. a stupid or ridiculous person; jerk; nerd.

2. Vulgar . penis.


I think Dorks are just like they sound, dorky (that’s not a bad thing – it OFTEN describes me to a tee).  They tend to have nerd and geek traits, although not neccesarily.  They can even be a little socially awkward about it…like proclaiming to a room full of Ivy-leaguers that it’s not a matter of if, but when, the zombie apocalypse will happen and having them all stare at you like you just sprouted tentacles from your forehead (yes, I did that). But the greatest dorks of them all do embarrassing things sometimes but rarely get embarrassed.  They accept themselves for who they are and make no apologies.  Very similar to the coolest people you’ve ever met in your life except these guys like stuff further outside the norm, like most geeks/gamers the difference is they aren’t afraid to show it. And the best dorks eventually drag you into their silly antics without you knowing where they came from. Like Santarchy or BYOBW. Sometimes it’s to do anything that will make you laugh, other times it’s just cause they love whatever it is.

Celeb examples: Robin Williams, Daniel Tosh

One thing we can all probably agree on…that the Dictionary is a major asshole.

Top 5 Nerd Holidays

Happy Towel Day Hot Nerd Girl

In addition to all of the traditional and national holidays printed on our calendars every year, there are other, equally as important holidays that deserve recognition.  As nerds, it is up to us to ensure that these glorious tributes and anniversaries get the attention they are due.

In honor of Towel Day, here is my list of the top 5 nerd holidays.

5. September 19th – International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Created back in 1995 by fellow Oregonian’s Ol’ Chumbucket and Cap’n Slappy, International Talk Like a Pirate Day is the day in which we can all…umm, talk like a pirate.  You might be wondering if this is truly a nerd holiday.  I say that only nerds would celebrate and participate in such a day and therefore, it does qualify…kind of like a Ren Faire qualifies (believe me, it does).

“But HNG, how do I celebrate this holiday?”

By dressing up like a pirate, talking like a pirate and changing your facebook language settings to “pirate.”  You can also watch pirate movies and read pirate books.  I do not recommend the following activities on Talk Like a Pirate Day:




engagin’ in general forms of debauchery unless it is between consenting adults

You may; however, drink copious amounts of rum providing you don’t get behind the wheel of your pirate ship afterwards.

4. March 14th – Pi Day


Get it? 3.14?  This holiday is definitely geared towards the math nerds and much as I appreciate their mathematical prowess, math has never been a particularly strong point of mine.  On that note, I would like to personally invite Danica McKellar to be my private math tutor.  Note: Pi Day is not to be confused with Pi Approximation Day celebrated on July 22nd (get it?)

“But HNG, how do I celebrate this holiday?”

Bake a pie and eat it (personally, my favorite way of celebrating).  You can also memorize as many decimal digits of Pi as you can and recite them for all of your friends (trust me, they will be VERY impressed).  If you’re a true math nerd, you could apply to MIT.  If you get in, they will mail your acceptance letter so that it is delivered on Pi Day (oh math nerds, they’re so funny).

3. August 12th – PC’s Birthday

Ahhh, the good ol' days

The IBM 5150 PC first went on sale on August 12, 1981.  If you’re counting, that means that this year the PC turns 30 (*sniffle* they grow up so fast).  This holiday is for all you computer nerds.  I’m a PC gal myself, but if you happen to be an Apple fan, I suppose you can celebrate Macintosh Computer Day on January 25th.  But since you wouldn’t be able to celebrate if it weren’t for the magical PC, I’m only counting August 12th on this list.  Deal with it.

“But HNG, how do I celebrate this holiday?”

By doing some long overdue computer maintenance (you know you need to).  January is technically National Clean Up Your Computer Month, but since August is about halfway through the year, it’s as good a time as any to do a little cleaning up as well.  You could also replace your PC.  I may be a PC gal, but I’m not so stubborn that I can’t admit that PC’s can, umm, be less reliable.  There, I said it.  You will never hear me say it again.  Damn you.

2. August 29th – Judgment Day

Good times worth celebrating

This holiday commemorates the day when Skynet will go online and destroy the vast majority of humanity.  Yay!!!  Why do we celebrate this day?  To remind us all that, while nerds and geeks may rule the world, we must be careful about not abusing our power lest it rise up against us.  I mean, seriously, how many movies have to be made before we realize that maaaaybe cloning people using nanobots and other crazy shit that serves no real viable purpose is probably not the best idea?  Hrrmmm?

“But HNG, how do I celebrate this holiday?”

By starting a letter writing campaign to Arnold Schwarzenegger informing him that Terminators don’t age and 64 might be a little too long in the tooth to be playing the same character he first played when he was 37.  Or, you could watch the movies.  Or you could take your kids to a playground and gaze fearfully up at the sky while watching out for a giant orange blast that will set you on fire and shred you apart until finally your bones explode.  Yup, have fun with that.

1. May 25th – Geek Pride Day AND Towel Day

Geek Pride Parade

May 25th should really be a holy day.  Perhaps a feast day for Saint Lucas and Saint Adams.

May 25th was opening day of the original Star Wars, a day that shall live on forever in geek lore.  The holiday has a Bill of Rights and, even though it’s not meant to be taken seriously, it’s full of bullshit stereotypes so I’ll only print the ones I feel should be included:

  1. The right to be even geekier

7.   The right to have all the geeky friends that you want

10. The right to show off your geekiness

11. The right to take over the world

naked towel dayMay 25th also marks Towel Day, an ode to Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  It was started in 2001 in response to Adams’ Graduation.  Why towels you ask?  Because….

“A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)”

That’s why.

“But HNG, how do I celebrate this holiday?”

By carrying a towel around with you all day.  If you work in a relaxed enough environment, you can also wear pajamas and a bathrobe.  You can read the book, but don’t bother watching the movie.  If you do, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Are you celebrating Towel Day today?  Feel free to take a picture and put it on the facebook page!

Also, I’m thinking it might be pretty awesome to put together a nerd calendar that features these holidays and more.  Am I forgetting any?  Have one you would like to add?  If so, let me know!