Are You a Geek or a Nerd?

Are you a self-proclaimed geek? Or maybe a nerd? Have you been called both interchangeably? Do you struggle with your identity, not knowing if you’re a nerd or a geek? Well don’t worry, because researchers with not much better to do have finally come up with some distinctions between the two sometimes endearing, often not so much, terms.

Burr Settles at Slack Propogation set about solving the mystery by using Twitter data to see which words most often were surrounded by terms such as “nerdy” and “geeky”. You can get a full description of his methodology here. The result? A two axis infographic with the highest vertically words being extremely geeky and the rightmost horizontally words being particularly nerdy. Here are some key takeaways:

NerdsĀ are generally more about “ideas”. This is shown in the data by a greater correlation with academic terminology- history, calculus, physics, etc. Nerds are practitioners of their subject. Nerdy hobbies include chess and reading.

GeeksĀ are more about “things” and being a fan of their subject, rather than a practitioner. High correlations with geekdom include words associated with collections and technology products. Toys and manga are extremely geeky hobbies.

Here’s the infographic for more correlations:


So are you a nerd or a geek? Or are you both? It turns out that the terms aren’t interchangeable, but they could easily be two personality traits of the same individual. Next time you proclaim yourself nerdy or geeky, make sure you choose the same one. And if you’re going to insult someone else, make sure it’s an educated insult.