Nerds, geeks, dorks, and dweebs

There are some terms in every language that people all seem to use differently. In English, usually the first example I think of is ‘next weekend/Friday’ and ‘this weekend/Friday’. If I’m talking about the upcoming weekend/Friday (or other end of the week day), some people will use ‘next’ and some people will use ‘this’. Some people are even more confusing and use both, depending on where in the week you are, e.g. if you are closer to the end of the week, you use ‘this’, otherwise, ‘next’. I use ‘this’ for everything up to the upcoming weekend, and ‘next’ for everything in the following week, but not everybody agrees with me.

Another example is ‘geek’ vs ‘nerd’ (and other words that laypeople don’t really care about the difference between). To the learner, and the average English speaker, these phrases might be interchangeable. They all mean people who have varying levels of intelligence and obsession with fields that everyday people might not be concerned with, and varying levels of social ineptitude. To the average person, it might not matter which term you use to describe someone (although you might want to avoid them if you don’t want to offend people), but to someone who might be described as a geek, nerd, dork, or dweeb, the differences can be huge. Some nerds, for example, are quite proudly nerdy, but would be quite offended to be called dorks. Apparently, dorks only lack social skills, and might not even know anything about anything.

Here’s a helpful pie graph from Great White Snark (which satisfies my own inner nerd):

If you’re still interested, there’s also a Cat and Girl comic about it.

By the way, even usage amongst nerds and geeks varies, so don’t be worried if you still can’t get it right.

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