I am struggling with new usages of the word "geek" or "geek out". In social media outlets, it's no longer confined to computers or technology, but can be related to other subjects including athletics.

Even a quick trip to Urban Dictionary gives conflicting stories:


  1. The people you pick on in high school and wind up working for as an adult
  2. Not to be confused with Nerd. A geek does not have to be smart, a Geek is someone who is generaly not athletic, and enjoys Video Games; Comic Books; being on the internet, and etc.

and yet

geek out

The act of becoming emotionally and physically aroused by the sight or the thought of a technicality of a certain topic of major interest.

It resembles an "orgasm of the mind".

Geeking out is not a universal feeling. As a result, if one person in a group geeks out, everyone else is wondering in curiosity what is wrong with that person.

Can anyone explain what is going on here? We seem to have two points if view:

  • the geek who has very specialized interests which we cannot relate to
  • geeking out, when we have a specific interests and nobody can relate to us

Any other theories? Even geek has achieved positive status, beating out nerd according to New York Times data. Finally when did this stop being about computers?

Is there a word for a non-geek?

Which term correctly identifies those who enjoy programming/technology: "geek" or "nerd"?

English word for taking a derogatory term and owning it with pride

  • If you get your definitions from Urban Dictionary, you're gonna have a bad time... Jul 29, 2014 at 20:29
  • Being a geek and geeking out are separate topics. I would advise splitting the question.
    – choster
    Jul 29, 2014 at 20:31
  • @ElendilTheTall Just from reading and talking to people, these two terms have changed and I wanted to put my finger on how they have changed. The definitions I found are bitingly sarcastic, but they captures aspects that other resources may be afraid to say. Jul 29, 2014 at 20:32
  • @choster if that is how you feel, why are they seperate? that is worthy of putting in the answer section, and good etiquette on here I think. Jul 29, 2014 at 20:34

1 Answer 1


There were geeks before there were computers...music geeks (guilty!), science geeks, history geeks, theater geeks - basically anyone, usually very intelligent, with a more-than-casual knowledge of a very narrow topic of interest.

The 2nd definition of "geek" from MW-Online defines it well:

2) a person who is very interested in and knows a lot about a particular field or activity

To "geek out", in my opinion, adds a bit of the first definition to the equation when the geek tunes out socially in a moment of one-ness with the object of their geeky interest:

1) a person who is socially awkward and unpopular : a usually intelligent person who does not fit in with other people

  • That's what I wanted to see. A geek can have any specialized interest. Not just computers. Jul 29, 2014 at 20:36

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