Languages Magazine

The Great "Geek" Vs. "Nerd" Debate

By Expectlabs @ExpectLabs

What is the true difference between a “geek” and a “nerd?” Both terms are associated with a deep obsession with a subject, but there are subtle differences between the two. Burr Settles decided to put an end to the debate by analyzing tweets that contained both words. Using a pointwise mutual information score (PMI), Settles was able to identify which words correlated with each term. The chart above shows the PMI scores, with the “geekier” words in orange, and the “nerdier” words in blue.

Settles writes:

In broad strokes, it seems to me that geeky words are more about stuff (e.g., “#stuff”), while nerdy words are more about ideas (e.g., “hypothesis”). Geeks are fans, and fans collect stuff; nerds are practitioners, and practitioners play with ideas. Of course, geeks can collect ideas and nerds play with stuff, too. Plus, they aren’t two distinct personalities as much as different aspects of personality. Generally, the data seem to affirm my thinking.

This might be the nerdiest/best project we’ve ever seen.

(via Burr Settles, h/t I Love Charts)

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