Posted on July 13, 2016
Geek comes from Middle Low German's geck, which used to mean “fool” or “freak” and in modern German means “fool” or “dandy.”
A couple of decades ago, geek was almost always used as an insult for someone seen as a misfit, usually a smart person lacking (or supposedly lacking) in social skills. In the TV show Freaks and Geeks, the geeks were the not-very popular smart kids. (The freaks were the dope-smoking “bad” kids.)
But geeks have come a long way, baby. Although some people still call others geek as an insult, most uses of the term seem to be full of fondness and respect. Geeks the world over have reclaimed the term by using it for themselves with pride.
Also, the meaning has changed quite a bit. I mean, there is no longer any definite meaning; different people and communities mean different things when they use it, and although some people consider geek and nerd to be synonyms, others carefully (and sometimes humorously) explain the bajillions of differences between geeks and nerds.
That said, geek has come to mean for many of us (most of the time) someone who is really interested in a complex or intellectual subject for its own sake. There are science geeks, math geeks, computer geeks, history geeks, gaming geeks – you get the idea!
Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton are two great examples of people who have helped make the word geek more positive.
Day launched a premium YouTube channel called Geek & Sundry, and Wheaton and Day started a web series about games.
The two have written, acted in, and/or created everything from shows and series to movies and video games and even books.
It's great to take hateful insults and name-calling and turn them around into accomplishment, community, and pride!
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