Geek vs. Nerd

This is primarily for the geeks and nerds out there. You know who you are – or you should.

So, growing up…how many of you were called nerds? Probably more than were called geeks because it was more common to throw the n-word around than the g-word. When I was in seventh grade (nightmare-city) no one knew what a geek was, anyway. So I was most often called a nerd, and probably fit that description, but as I went through high school I definitely fell much more into geek ground. Some of my friends were absolute, gung-ho geeks. I mean, the gaming sort. I never played D&D (and if you don’t know what it is, perhaps you should just walk slowly away from this post) mostly because I didn’t come from a video game-playing family, but I would have really liked it. A lot of my geekiness took the form of actual science rather than sci-fi. I had friends who were Trekkies but I was a Star Wars fan (still am).

[We interrupt this post to make a public service announcement: The only real Star Wars movies are episodes IV, V and VI. Thank you. And now back to the post:]

There are some episodes from my life that generally illustrate why it was that I was not one of the popular crowd and had “GEEK” written all over me:

1. On the first day of sixth grade, we all stood up and said what we wanted to be when we grew up. People were giving out some of the traditional career choices (fireman – even in 6th grade!, teacher, nurse, movie star *snicker*, football player…) and I said, “payload specialist”. Not astronaut, payload specialist.

2. Times change and so do career choices. When I was in the Miss [school name] pageant (long story – will reserve for another time) we had to wear two outfits – a dressy outfit and a formal – and answer questions (in private caucus) while wearing the first while parading across the stage while wearing the second. I was asked about a potential college major. I said quantum mechanics*. I had to explain what quantum mechanics was because the judges were (1) a local dry cleaner, (2) a former county beauty pageant queen and (3) someone else. I was also wearing a lovely white outfit ca. 1900 complete with a multitude of pintucks.

3. I have this shirt:

(actual photo of shirt – couldn’t find it online)

Anyway, I was interested in the specific definitions of nerd and geek and the differences between the two. I know there’s overlap but I really wanted to know the difference and, well, I’m nerdy like that.


I know some people would beg to differ, but I am fairly positive I do not fall too far into the social ineptitude circle. I may not be the sparkling life at the party, but I do have a filter and I use it.

So, intelligence? Well, yes, I have it. I think my last IQ test was when I was 7 and I remember the number but (1) I don’t know how valid it would be now and (2) I’m not a number-dropper.

Obsession? Um, yes. I am not obsessed with D&D, and I have not insisted that we have Star Wars bedsheets, but there are very specific areas that I will never lose interest in and will in fact climb mountains to get books about. For instance:

  1. History of meteorology and forecasting
  2. History of the NASA space program (including unmanned – hello, there was a space program before astronauts…)
  3. Detailed histories/descriptions of various storms (primarily hurricanes and tornadoes but I will allow blizzards)
  4. Sailing and (inevitably) shipwrecks, especially those associated with storms (see #3)
  5. Astronomy
  6. Classic science fiction (Can anyone say, Ray Bradbury??)
  7. Epidemiology

In addition, I can go a long way towards quoting various movies verbatim [i.e. Star Wars (the REAL ones – see above), The Princess Bride, Clue and Monty Python and the Holy Grail (and lots of other Python)] and have a great appreciation for MST3K, Doctor Who, Mythbusters (woo hoo!), TMBG, and think War Games was one of the more awesome movies from the 80’s. [I sort of hate to admit I watched and enjoyed Real Genius**…but I did.]

Plus, I think if you have read and can quote all of Douglas Adams’ Hitchiker’s Guide ‘Trilogy’, then you are an automatic geek.

So, if you’re wondering if you were/are a geek, see how you answer the questions on this geek test.

I was 23.80074% geek, just under total geek. I’m disappointed.

*Actually, I would have said Physics. The doctorate would have been in q.m.

**Augh! I meant Real Genius! I originally put Weird Science…which, ok, I did watch…but I got the plots mixed up. Hey, I was tired when I wrote the post.

15 thoughts on “Geek vs. Nerd

  1. Growing up I was neither a nerd nor a geek, but due to the influence of my mother's geekiness I learned to love Star Trek, and many other geeky things as I got older.
    And although I didn't see it expressly stated in your post (besides D & D – which I would have LOVED to have played), fantasy books were always my favorite. I also loved sci-fi (I wrote my undergrad thesis on C.S. Lewis' Perelandra).
    Lastly, I have a hard time choosing between The Next Gen (as we called it in our house) and Voyager.


  2. My score was 16.78967%, and also I think that is because of my husband (and also my son) but I must have had some geeky tendencies back in the day because one of the qualities I was looking for in a husband was “does not watch sports on TV.” That pretty much set my course for geek-marriage right there.


  3. I'm tickled that three of you actually took the test! (I think you get automatic Geek-points for just taking the test.) And yes, Michelle, your husband definitely qualifies as a Super-Geek. (; You get Geek-points for marrying him.

    Mat. Constantina, I also loved some fantasy (Primarily the Dragonlance books – I cried when Sturm died.) and have read CS Lewis's space trilogy so many times it's going to fall apart.


  4. 26.75% – Total geek 🙂 I'm pretty I took this test is college and only under 15%. Marrying a Geek (who broadened my Star Trek horizons considerably 🙂 )helped, for sure.

    I saw a meme on facebook which I prefer to the Venn diagram, but I can't find right now. It said: “A Geek is someone who can create awesome stuff. A Nerd is someone who understands awesome stuff. A Dork is someone who is confused by awesome stuff.” 🙂

    And you are all wrong. Deep Space Nine is the best Star Trek by far. 😉 But you are right that C. S. Lewis' Space Trilogy is AMAZING!


  5. Ahem, it's “Trekker” for us serious types. “Trekkies” dress up in costumes and all the rest. Trekkers wonder why nobody on board ever seems to have any money.
    Anyway, I grew up before the G & N words were invented; read Heinlein starting in about third grade, maybe fourth, would buy all the Heinlein juveniles if I could afford them, but outgrew the adult novels. Desperately wanted to be a rocket scientist but couldn't do the math.
    And Matushka, you are so very right about Star Trek. I made it about a half hour into the first prequel and turned it off.
    Also, I think the Rodenberry Doctrine, which we used to know as the idea of human perfectibility, is very wicked and dangerous even though I loved the shows. Sadly, I had to conclude that Babylon 5 was the best sci-fi on TV ever.


  6. 14.57565% Geekish Tendencies
    Unusual, I really thought I would score much higher, perhaps I did it to quickly? Will have to look at it again and make others do it too! Hee hee, this was a good one Mat Anna. I wholeheartedly agree regarding Star Wars and I don't believe it when he says he wrote them in sequence.


  7. LV, I lived in Cairo, Ga, the home of Roddenbery's Syrup, for several years. The local high school's football team is named “The Syrupmakers”. The Roddenbery family was always very proud of Gene Roddenberry (not sure if he was the one who inserted the extra 'r') and in 1991, the year he died, the Zebulon theater downtown showed Star Trek movies with free admission. (:

    I hadn't mentioned it yet, but I own a 2-CD set of Sci-Fi TV theme songs. Love them. Darn it…now the theme to Quantum Leap is running through my head…


  8. Pres. Eleni, I cross-posted with you too! I don't believe that about the writing in sequence at all. It would not have been hard to write the “first” three episodes after having written the “last” three. In fact, if you look it up, it was only when Empire Strikes Back was nearly done that he conceived the ideas of the backstory.


  9. I'm way behind on my blog reading, so I'm really late to comment, but I have to say, the Schrodinger's cat shirt is hilarious.

    And the test was really fun. I scored 28.78229% which makes me geeky enough to be bothered by the missing umlaut in Schrodinger, but not geeky enough to take the time to learn how to produce it from my phone.


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