Rolling On the Floor Geeking
A co-worker of mine and I had a meeting where a funny little exchange occurred, which I won't recount here, but when he was returning to the office, he sent me this text about the exchange:
In case the screenshot isn't clear, the text messages read:
[co-worker]: I'm geeking while walking down the street at the "and he's really good too though" and then you going "well he's 26"
When he sent back "laughing", I assumed he had originally typed "laughing" or something similar to it, and autocorrect had corrupted the word and inserted "geeking".
But then, when he was telling the story to another co-worker in front of me, he said "geeking" again, aloud (i.e. verbally), and it was clear from context he did indeed mean "laughing".
No Geeking Matter
I have never before encountered "geeking" used to mean "laughing". It struck me as unusual and very interesting. I checked a few dictionaries, and while I found all the senses I expected ("geeking out" == "obsessing over technical details"), nothing came even close to "laughing".
So I did an internet search for geeking + laughing. The search results included a few slang dictionaries and internet compendia, but most leads were red herrings, and I could only find once place with positive confirmation of this sense: Reddit.
What does "geeking" mean?
if you mean geeking out, I've always used it to express laughing a lot or uncontrollably.
But that's as far as my research has been able to uncover this sense.
Geeking All the Way to the Bank
I asked my co-worker for his background and where he picked up this word. In no particular order of importance:
- American, native speaker, neutral accent (I'm a native of NYC and his accent sounds neutral/unremarkable to me)
- Of Armenian descent, very close to the ex-pat Armenian community (but has never been to Armenia and doesn't speak Armenian)
- Born in California, moved around the world during his childhood (his dad's job was very international).
- After CA, moved to Japan (in infancy), then Oman, then the UK (London) for primary schooling, then the UAE and Qatar as an adolescent.
- University in Washington, DC.
- Was an active member of a fraternity, so he does have an inventory of "bro"-y vocabulary, used when applicable.
- Working professional (which is the register he maintains at the office).
He says he's heard the word used by a variety of people, but he most closely associates it with a friend of his from Eastchester, NY. He also speculates "maybe it's a millennial thing".
Of all the places he could have picked up the word, the "millennial" and "fraternity speak" theories ring truest to me; I am not persuaded his cosmopolitan upbringing is material. The word feels like young men's speech¹.
Have any of the experts on EL&U encountered geeking to mean laughing before? Is there any evidence of a more widespread use?
- If so, in what cultures or lects is the word deployed?
- What is its etymology, or,
- Failing a clear paper trail, what can we deduce about its likely origins?
¹ I am deliberately avoiding the characterization "locker-room talk".