I was talking to my friend Lisa the other day, and she inquired, “Am I a nerd?” Before I could respond, she said that she couldn’t be a geek because, and I quote: “geeks eat chickens.” There was a small pause as I was attempting to wrap my head around the ridiculousness of what she just said. Then I broke out laughing, and she began to explain to me that her definition was in the dictionary. I promised that I’d look it up later on the Merriam-Webster website, so here I am, finding the definition of a geek, as well as discovering how it differs from a nerd.


Well, I looked up the definition on m-w.com, and it says, “ a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake.” So Lisa’s claim wasn’t far off, but this description is no longer applicable in today’s society, thus rendering definition number 1 completely useless.


Other definitions on sites like m-w.com and dictionary.com show that nerds and geeks are virtually the same. Even in the place for synonyms, each word has the other listed. In my opinion, these dictionary definitions are absolutely true. There is no difference between a nerd and a geek, no matter how worked up people get over using these words interchangeably.


My skepticism is drawn from the fact that the Internet cannot agree with itself (alert the press!). Just take a look at these two Venn diagrams. First of all, I’d like to say that it’s pretty amusing that multiple people actually made Venn diagrams on this subject, but then again, they would have to be nerds themselves to have made these, so it’s understandable. Anyway, the diagrams aren’t completely off, but they aren’t in agreement either.


To be fair, most of the descriptions from blogs and nerdy websites say that nerds are geared toward a high level of interest in science, and geeks are labeled hardcore fans of things like Star Trek and video games. They can’t seem to make up their mind on which one is associated with computers.


The worst article on attempting to describe the difference came from WikiHow. Under “Nerd,” it says, “A nerd could be viewed as someone with an extremely intense interest or fascination in an academic field of study.” Under “Geek,” it says, “It is not uncommon for a geek to be capable of reciting large amounts of knowledge.” These definitions are not the same thing, of course, but they are very close. Furthermore, under “Nerd,” it says, “Nerd interests may cover a broad range of interests, from movies to games (video and table-top), to more practical skills such as computer science.” And under “Geek:” “Geeks can vary in their interests, from fun (films) and sometimes even frivolous things (collecting plastic figurines), to heavily technological interests (computing, hacking, and programming).” The two sentences are virtually the same thing! The article can’t even agree with itself!


Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.