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What Is the Origin of the Word “Geek”?

The word "geek" is thought to come from the German word geck which refers to a fool. The modern definition of "geek" typically is a slang term for a person who is socially awkward or has excessive interest in technology. From the 18th century through the early 20th century, however, "geek" was a term that referred to performers in circus acts. For example, traveling circuses in Austro-Hungary would use the word "geek" in their advertisements to describe performers who bit off the heads of live animals. The word was thought to have become popular in the US after the release of Nightmare Alley, a 1947 book about a sideshow performer.

More about the history of slang words:

  • The word “nerd” first appeared in the 1950 children’s book If I Ran a Zoo by Dr. Seuss.

  • “Weirdo” originally was a term that meant "supernatural," but it developed over time to become a slang word for a strange person.

  • There are no conclusive references for the origin of the term "dweeb," another slang term to describe an unpopular or socially awkward person.

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More Info: etymonline.com

Discuss this Article

Euroxati
Post 3

@Viranty - You make some very good points. Further adding on to what you said, I find it interesting how a lot of words (even the ones in this day and age) usually originated in other languages and from different countries. However, considering how the English language hadn't quite settled in when these terms were discovered, that makes perfect sense.

Viranty
Post 2

The funny thing about words is that their current meaning wasn't always their original meaning, and this article is proof of that. It's interesting to see how "weirdo" originally meant supernatural, but quickly developed overtime to mean something else. As one of the more recent examples, "Google" is the word used to describe a search engine. However, people now use it as a verb, a way to search for things on the web.

Hazali
Post 1

Reading these tidbits are very interesting, yet mysterious at the same time. While it's interesting to know where the words "geek" and "nerd" originated from, it's a bit odd that "dweeb" doesn't have a specific origin. However, that's the thing with words. Even if some of them don't have specific origins, it shows how some words and phrases develop over-time, and become part of the norm. This is a great read!

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