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What is a Geek?

Pieces for chess, which is associated with geeks.
Knowledge of Star Wars might be considered geeky.
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  • Written By: Michael Anissimov
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2014
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Geek is a popular slang term that has been around in some form for over a century. In the 1920s, a geek was a freak show performer that swallowed bugs and other animals. Today, the word generally has a more positive connotation, used to refer to someone who has a great deal of specialized knowledge in a "geeky" field, such as technology or science. Of course, bearing in mind that the writer of this article self-identifies as a geek and this website's name is "WiseGEEK", we're going to focus on the bright side of the word.

The word geek has different and blurred meanings, but there is certainly a center of gravity for the definitions. In its more general usage, a "geek" is anyone that knows a lot about a certain area that you don't. For this reason, geeks are associated with knowledge, sometimes knowledge of Star Wars, comics, or anime.

There are drama geeks, literature geeks, computer geeks, and so much more. If you think about it, the name of this site is quite fitting, because its aim is offering niche articles on specific, sometimes obscure topics. There are the obvious science and technology geeks, but also law geeks, gardening geeks, manufacturing geeks, even - presumably - geek geeks.

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After the dot com boom, "geeks" had it much easier. Society didn't ridicule them as much as before. People began to realize that computers and the Internet can mean big money, and began to give geeks in tech fields the respect they deserve. Perhaps the most infamous geek of the late 20th century is William Gates, whose net worth is greater than dozens of the world's poorest countries combined. The term geek is generally more positive than the pejorative nerd.

Sometimes being a geek in a particular area can be the gateway to success in a job interview or securing a promotion. With the immense popularity of massively multiplayer online games such as World of Warcraft, some job applicants have even put their status as an online clan leader into their resumes. It has long been observed that chess geeks tend to be good at problem-solving, especially with computers.

There is an acronym, G.E.E.K., which stands for General Electrical Engineering Knowledge. This reputedly comes from the United States Military, and may have contributed to the term's present day meaning.

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anon146294
Post 2

I thought at first anyone with in-depth knowledge would be considered a geek, like a doctor or mechanic, though that one word - 'obscure' - made all the difference. Maybe some would say medical geeks or car geeks, though decades ago, those were things that were essential. People always needed medical experts to survive and live, the car was a new sign of power, athletes showed off physical prowess. Those were all 'out there' signs unlike more normally accepted fields and accomplishments that would be geeky or nerdy. They were doers, as geeks maybe we'd get more caught up in our heads and mental activities.

anon134877
Post 1

According to my views, a geek is that type of person who is enthusiastic about knowledge.

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