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Nerd is a term that refers to a person who avidly pursues intellectual activities, technical or scientific endeavors, esoteric knowledge, or other obscure interests, rather than engaging in more social or conventional activities. It often carries a derogatory connotation or stereotype. The nerd may be awkward, shy and unattractive.[1] Therefore, a nerd is often excluded from physical activity and considered a loner by peers, or will tend to associate with like-minded people.



The first documented appearance of the word "nerd" is as the name of a creature in Dr. Seuss's book If I Ran the Zoo (1950), in which the narrator Gerald McGrew claims that he would collect "a Nerkle, a Nerd, and a Seersucker too" for his imaginary zoo.[2][3] The slang meaning of the term dates back to 1951, when Newsweek magazine reported on its popular use as a synonym for "drip"; or "square" in Detroit, Michigan.[4] By the early 1960s, usage of the term had spread throughout the United States and even as far as Scotland.[5][6] At some point, the word took on connotations of bookishness and social ineptitude.[2]

An alternate spelling, as nurd, also began to appear in the mid-1960s or early '70s.[7] Author Philip K. Dick claimed to have coined this spelling in 1973, but its first recorded use appeared in a 1965 student publication at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.[8][9] Oral tradition there holds that the word is derived from "knurd" ("drunk" spelled backwards), which was used to describe people who studied rather than partied. On the other hand, the variant "gnurd" was in wide use at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology throughout the first half of the 1970s.

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