The Fundamental Differences of a Nerd, Dork and Geek

by Gary Seward
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Have you ever been called a nerd? A dork? A geek? I know I have. And back when I was in elementary and high school (1991-2003), these words only meant one thing. You were labeled a loser.

These days being a nerd, dork or geek has become almost a mainstream thing. We live in a day and age where loving Star Trek didn’t just get you stuffed into a locker, but now you can come out of the closet as a full out trekkie and you’re just looked at as being quirky and passionate.

Recently I had a discussion with one of my best friends about this. The conversation went a bit like this:

Context: Talking about a new tabletop card building game my best friend and I purchased and played for hours last Friday

“You are such a nerd.” My friend proclaims

“Actually, not really. I have some nerdy tendencies but I am definitely a geek.”

“Semantics,” Is her reply

“Actually no. There are big differences…”

And my rant on the differences follows.

Living in a day and age where you can openly celebrate the things you love is fabulous but using nerd, dork and geek interchangeably is a bit confusing to actual nerd, dork and geeks.

What do these words mean? Well, I am going to try to break down each term now. I also want to point out that there is another category trying to assimilate into nerd, dork and geek cultures. It’s called being a hipster.


The Fundamental Differences of a Nerd, Dork and Geek


A nerd is someone who strives for high technical skills. The nerd is the one knows one subject to an expert level, like math or science. And in turn love media to reflect that, like Star Trek. The nerd will seek jobs that benefit from their devotion to all things academia. Which means that they end up in fields with a focus on the applied sciences like computer programmers, scientists, and professors. The nerd is the one you went to school with that is now the CEO of a huge tech company (like Microsoft).


Nerd, Dork and Geek - Fresh Print Magazine

A dork is someone who has odd interests and is often silly at times. A dork is also someone who can be himself or herself and not care what anyone thinks. Dorks are typically more noted for their quirky personality. The dork is mostly a hybrid of the geek and the nerd. He’s the Howard Wolowitz (Big Bang Theory) of the your friends.


Nerd, Dork and Geek - Fresh Print Magazine

Image from full infographic at

A geek is someone who has a passionate interest in a certain area, not necessarily computers or technology. Or several areas, but they talk about it all the time. While a geek appears on the outside to be an outwardly normal person, they’re just better at faking social situations than their nerd colleagues. They are generally not athletic and enjoy video games, comic books, and deck building games. Geeks tend to gravitate toward jobs that let them indulge in their interests and use their obscure expertise on a particular subject for a more practical purpose. So, it’s not surprising that they become writers, graphic artists, or animators. The geek is what the hipster tries to be.

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