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FINALLY: The Difference between Geek, Nerd, and Dork Explained by a Venn Diagram

It’s certainly one of life’s two-part burning questions: What’s the difference between a geek, nerd, dork, and dweeb?* And–for the love of Pete–is there an elegantly clear and simple Venn diagram that can explain that difference?

Nerd, Dork, Geek Venn Diagram

Geek, Nerd, Dork, or Dweeb? Now you can find out.

(Haha, just kidding… no one says “dweeb” unless they’re starring in a stage production of Grease or they’re a linguist with a unruly fixation on baby boomer slang.)

To all of you nerds and geeks who–like me–have been unfairly and inaccurately labeled “dorks,” only to then exhaustively explain the differences among the three to a more-than-skeptical offender, I say:

You’re welcome. This handy geek/nerd/dork/dweeb Venn diagram should save you a lot of time and frustration in the future.

To those of you who have been called “dweebs,” I say:

Stop hanging out with people from the 1950s.

Via Matthew at Sed Contra, who will see you at the intersection of Blogging and Things that Have Latin Names.

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93 comments… add one

  • cam March 26, 2010, 10:45 am

    that’s pretty cool. where’s the t-shirt?

  • SweetJesus March 26, 2010, 1:22 pm

    I want a poster. Now.

  • clvrmnky March 26, 2010, 1:48 pm

    Of course, there is always: http://catandgirl.com/?p=1341

  • Anim8or March 26, 2010, 1:49 pm

    Damn.. I always thought I was a nerd and now I find out I am a geek. Good to know.

  • Donnyk March 26, 2010, 1:52 pm

    hmm, I disagree.

    First, I think there should be no dweeb.

    a Dork is merely social ineptitude. There is no obsession.

    It should just be:

    Dork – Social ineptitude
    Nerd – Intelligence
    Geek – obsession

    Of course, with this info a Venn diagrom doesn’t work, and Venn diagrams are really cool right now…

  • Nils Geylen March 26, 2010, 1:58 pm

    So I’m a nerd after all.

    /*retreats to lair*/

  • Dr Rand Pink March 26, 2010, 2:58 pm

    Venn Diagrams. I love graphic organizers. I dated a German girl in college that was the curator at a mathematical museum. Her nipples got hard when I brought up prime numbers.Eating Nerds as I post this babble.

  • billy bill March 26, 2010, 3:17 pm

    So a disciplined athlete is a geek? After all, an athlete is intelligent and obsessed. This might work, but it really stretches the “geek” interpretation. Then again, to geek out is to obsess, but to do so in a non-stupid way.

    Here’s a fun one: a 300-pound offensive tackle can be 1) intelligent (knowing a playbook and defensive formations is complex); 2) obsessed (weight-training, football, football); and 3) socially inept. So there you have it: the football player nerd! NEEEEEERRRRDDDDSSS!!! (Football player pummels himself.)

  • george March 26, 2010, 3:21 pm

    I think nerd and geek should be swapped.

  • no_one March 26, 2010, 3:52 pm

    Old Venn diagram is old.

  • Monica March 26, 2010, 3:55 pm

    Meh, I don’t think this is entirely right. It’s pretty close, though. Nerds are just people who love to learn. They may have great social skills and just get fired up about all things botany.

  • Self-proclaimed geek March 26, 2010, 4:47 pm

    And the comments show just why you needed to post this diagram. I mean it was a joke but yet folks are going on about what shouldn’t be there and why it shouldn’t. Do we need to say it dweebs.

  • Abraham March 26, 2010, 5:56 pm

    I reject labels, no matter what. I am myself and no one else. FAIL.

  • Dan March 26, 2010, 6:47 pm

    @Bbilly bill – Is that so hard to comprehend? Why can’t someone be a geek for football or a football nerd? You only find it disagreeable because of the negative connotations associated with the terms in contrast with your idolization of athletes.

    That being said, the classifications are all relative, as shown by the examples provided in other commenters. So to all, meanings of words are defined by usage. However people decided to use the words dictates their definition. That’s how Shakespeare could invent new words and that’s why dictionaries are constantly updated. So even if we could agree here, it’s only until common use decides otherwise. As for me, I’ll just enjoy the diagram.

  • killermouse March 26, 2010, 9:30 pm

    I’m a little bit intelligent, a little bit socially inept and a little bit obsessed, so am I a bit of a nerd, or a bit of a dweeby dorky geek, or dweeby geeky dork, or dorky geeky dweeb, or dorky dweeby geek, or geeky dweeby dork, or geeky dorky dweeb??? It’s all too confusing. I think I’m just me :-)

    Who says “an athlete is intelligent”? Many of them make stupid mistakes. And who says they are “socially inept”? Many of them seem to have lots of friends. Some of them even seem to make stupid mistakes about who they socialise with.

    :-)

  • ron karlin March 26, 2010, 10:06 pm

    I look far too much like a geek/dork/dweeb to deny it for a second. I could hate computers more than shit but it will always be assumed that I am a computer pro because I look THAT WAY.
    And what about sexual frustration, hatred and anger? If you do not know all of these things in a huge way you are not the genuine article. This graph is far too cutesy.

  • Jo March 26, 2010, 10:40 pm

    The difference between Nerds and Geeks is that Nerds specialise and Geeks like diversity. If a Nerd has a favourite subject, they aim to make themselves the authority in it, whereas Geeks don’t take it that seriously – sure, its more serious than Average Person, but not Nerderious.

  • DidcotMan March 27, 2010, 1:29 am

    “exhaustively explain the differences among the three”

    Umm, there are four in your diagram…

    You’re welcome.

  • Goose March 27, 2010, 5:22 am

    Funny, but I’m not sure “dweeb” belongs. I’ve always viewed that overlap as “dork,” but that change would mess up the Venn diagram. This works: they should change “dweeb” to “dork” and “dork to “total dork.” No comment on where this comment would make me would fall on the diagram.

  • What about "Tool" March 27, 2010, 8:12 am

    So I see that “tool” is not show here

  • Kenoryn March 27, 2010, 9:36 am

    This totally makes sense. If you say ‘nerd’ you might picture someone with tape on their glasses – right? But if someone launches into a detailed explanation of something obscure or complicated or gets inordinately passionate about something most people don’t care about, you call them a geek, or you say they’re ‘geeking out’. The guys who sit around playing Magic in the gaming store but are actually pretty dumb are just dorks. I don’t know about dweeb, though, since as you say no one says that anymore.

  • NKNJ March 27, 2010, 10:45 am

    I don’t care what any of you say… I still want the t-shirt!

  • Mycroft March 27, 2010, 1:37 pm

    It just needs an arrow pointing to the center with the words, “You are here”

  • ABC March 27, 2010, 4:48 pm

    There needs to be an athleticism circle here too. I always thought I was to big and strong to be a nerd. I thought that made me a dork.

  • Larry March 27, 2010, 5:06 pm

    I thought my wife was a geek, but when I showed her the Venn diagram she couldn’t figure it out, so I guess her label now shifts to dweeb.

  • Larry March 27, 2010, 5:07 pm

    Oops…I meant dork. I can’t claim to be a nerd now.

  • adelaide dancing March 27, 2010, 5:23 pm

    very accurate, me thinks!

  • Erik Shultz March 27, 2010, 9:10 pm

    Genius! Geek!

  • spiffy March 27, 2010, 9:19 pm

    According to the diagram, I’m an “intelligence.”

    (Just kidding. Only a nerd would say that.)

  • app geek March 28, 2010, 1:06 am

    @NKNJ – yep, me too… maybe they could be personalised using Mycroft’s idea…

  • McCollum March 28, 2010, 1:33 am

    Speaking as a person from the 50s, it’s dumb ass or perhaps even dipshit but never dweeb. Doofus.

  • @TreaclePie March 28, 2010, 3:30 am

    Just the fact that we have clicked through to check where we are on the diagram says a whole lot.

    However, I personally am delighted to have confirmation of my nerdiness, and embrace it. (I was worried I might actually be a dork, phew).

  • indiegamesoup March 28, 2010, 4:30 am

    I assume that “playing video games all the day long” goes in the social ineptitude zone. If so, then yes: gamers are definitely nerds.

  • Zoe Paris March 28, 2010, 8:42 am

    Nice to know they’ve dropped the requirement to bite the heads off chickens. Now I can relax and enjoy my geekness.

  • S Henderson March 28, 2010, 9:32 am

    I too would like a t-shirt / poster / other such irritating merchandise.

    It’s interesting how obsession comes into all but dweeb, I certainly would not categorise a geek in obsession, but then again it depends on such perspectives, and maybe even the culture you’re originally tuned from.

  • Phil Carter March 28, 2010, 12:20 pm

    This is a great ice breaker at any party. I don’t know how explanatory it is nor how accurate, but just explaining these terms with a Venn diagram is in itself geeky or nerdy or something. But it is an excellent attempt to chart the topology of the three traits. What a kick. I love everyone’s comments. I feel like we’re all at a party discussing it. How nerdy or geeky is that? I feel inspired to draw a diagram to explain the relationship between real life, virtual reality, dream states, and how they all overlap with obfuscation or memory loss. Where’s Woody Allen when you need him?

  • Marie March 28, 2010, 7:38 pm

    Nice timing. I actually wrong a blog entry describing the differences, as I know them, the middle of last week :) I’m a nerd, and proud of it!

    http://www.celebrationgeneration.com/blog/2010/03/24/nerd-or-geek/

  • Houston March 29, 2010, 5:46 am

    What’s actually amazing is that people were getting…snarky… with each other in the comments. I’d say that that’s proof that they fit in either the dweeb, nerd, or dork sections! :P

  • Rayanne March 29, 2010, 11:41 am

    Ok, you are my personal hero.

  • Beez March 29, 2010, 12:30 pm

    Look, just do the geeky thing, and call this a 0.2 beta release of the diagram…that should satisfy the naysayers…

  • jMd March 29, 2010, 2:41 pm

    Carajo, soy un nerd :P

  • lkbarr March 29, 2010, 4:00 pm

    I’m more interested in this place “things that have Latin names”. Where is this place and can I visit?

  • chasingrhinos March 29, 2010, 9:57 pm

    Must have t-shirt (obsessive geek nature showing) and here I always thought I was a nerd. It’s nice to know that I am simply a geek.

  • Michael Sears March 30, 2010, 6:44 am

    So I am a nerd after all! But I enjoy it more than ever!

  • Zai Lynch March 30, 2010, 8:50 am

    @4: And there’s also http://909sickle.com/s/geeks-and-nerds/ :)
    Hooray for geeks ‘n nerds!

  • Dan Zen March 30, 2010, 12:46 pm

    bri lli ant

  • Geek Guy March 30, 2010, 7:03 pm

    Much to my dismay, it turns out I’m more nerd and less geek than I thought I was.

  • SweetonGeeks March 30, 2010, 8:13 pm

    What about Spaz? I feel like it is a valid level of social disintegration that a geek/nerd may suffer from at any time.

  • Tim March 31, 2010, 3:54 am

    Venn Diagrams are so Nerdy / Geeky / Dorky / Dweeby.

  • adchick March 31, 2010, 5:57 am

    OMG. This is ME. Thanks for breaking it down. I must go find my white socks and blacks shoes now. HA!

  • Mentifex March 31, 2010, 6:06 am

    Res quae habent Latina numina sunt numerata et explicata ab Linnaeo. Tuum diagramma adumbrat varios modos vivendi in nostro moderno mundo. Quid amplius possum dicere? Mea obsessio est artificialis intellectus.

  • Social Skills for Geeks March 31, 2010, 6:30 am

    Hmmm, I think geek and nerd should be swapped.

  • Pete March 31, 2010, 6:50 am

    I had an IT professor who would say: The difference between a geek and a nerd is a geek is MARKETABLE!

  • Mike March 31, 2010, 2:39 pm

    I have this on a pocket protector.

  • Arnold Ziffle March 31, 2010, 3:12 pm

    What’s wrong with hanging out with people from the 1950’s?

    I was born in 1948. I wrote my first Fortran programs in 1965, in high school!

    I play FPS games, online games, console games. I’m a consultant programming factory automation systems and equipment automation. Oh I also do websites, primarily internal banking but I also add store fronts a processing to exiting websites.

    Let’s see, I’m an active member of the Planetary Society. (My REAL name is on a DVD on Mars and on the way to Pluto on New Horizons.) I participate in SETI@home, EINSTEIN@home. I also have interests in Astronomy, Geology, Robotics, Math and Physics. Does that sound Nerdy enough?

    BTW, I don’t hang out with most people my age either1 LOL

    AZiffle

  • Arthur T. Murray March 31, 2010, 3:43 pm

    They say that Mentifex is the first-place and second-place “World’s Most Annoying Nerd.”

  • Roger Jollie March 31, 2010, 9:19 pm

    I took the NERD test and scored 97%.

  • mohs68 April 1, 2010, 8:55 am

    1. it’s geekiness, not geekness. sheesh.
    2. as a self-described dork, I disagree.
    3. I would still buy a t-shirt.

  • Alli April 1, 2010, 9:34 am

    Suck it, NERDS!

  • Tony Huynh April 1, 2010, 11:48 pm

    Great work on the diagram. Worth 5 minutes of my time.

  • yankancuch April 2, 2010, 6:31 am

    I think this diagram should be revised accordingly:

    Geek: understands venn diagrams
    Dork: enjoys venn diagrams
    Dweeb: makes venn diagrams

  • stay_chill April 6, 2010, 12:38 am

    relax, guys! whatever you may be, it’s all good! labels mean nothing… stay true!

  • Marge April 6, 2010, 8:29 am

    Boy….I thought dork referred to a highly favored part of the male anatomy?????

  • Mauricio April 7, 2010, 10:23 am

    I’m definitely a geek. Haha.

  • Misclassified Dweeb April 7, 2010, 3:43 pm

    Greetings. Your methodology is lacking. Clearly, no one would self-identify as a “dweeb”. In order to correct for this gross miscalculation, you must flip the placement of dweeb and nerd.

    x = (-b +/- SQUAREROOT(b^2 – 4ac))/2a

    TAKE THAT SUCKAS!

  • Gorgonzola April 7, 2010, 7:49 pm

    Wow, I still don’t fit in! I think I am a Dweork!

    What NOW???!

  • SuspicionsConfirmed April 9, 2010, 12:10 pm

    @Gorgonzola

    A “dweork” would be a nerd, but since you don’t understand the diagram, you’d be classified as a dork.

  • none of the above April 10, 2010, 10:04 am

    So . . . was it a dork, dweeb, nerd or geek who came up with this model?!??!

  • Crimson Wife April 10, 2010, 3:10 pm

    So then what’s a “brain”?

  • Slygrrr April 11, 2010, 8:28 am

    Finally, I understand myself. Thanks for sharing.

  • HP April 13, 2010, 1:34 pm

    Actually had something similar to this here

    http://www.zerosharednickels.com/wordpress/?p=175

    No diagram though.

  • Science Matters April 26, 2010, 5:07 pm

    A friend posted this post on their facebook. What a great idea to do a Venn diagram! We published a survey of our academic staff as to what they saw the differences are between a geek and a nerd and if you’d like to see their responses, try http://sciencematters.unimelb.edu.au/2010/01/vox-pop-what-is-the-difference-between-a-geek-and-a-nerd/
    I will have to update our blog to add you (as soon as the pile of other work is complete!)

  • Player May 3, 2010, 8:07 am

    And what do you call the people who care / obsess about these distinctions and definitions?

  • walker May 4, 2010, 1:30 am

    The way we defined it in grad school was that geeks are nerds who like math/computers. Hence I get to be both. I like that.

  • Geek #42 May 4, 2010, 8:46 pm

    Shouldn’t we have used colors 0xff00ff instead of 0xfd93f6, 0xffff00 instead of 0xfbff58, and 0x00ffff instead of 0x9bfcfd for the Venn diagram? Or, even better, 0xff0000, 0x00ff00, and 0x0000ff!

  • Bob the Chef May 7, 2010, 8:26 am

    One should aim at pure intelligence. Obsession and social ineptitude are detriments pointing to a lack of intelligence. Meaning, by virtue of privatio boni, the axis of intelligence points towards perfection, while anything tending away from it is imperfect, a privation.

  • Patricia June 30, 2010, 1:02 pm

    I LOVE this Venn diagram. I’m interested to know who I would contact to use the idea for a T-shirt design or poster design or even just a blog entry about it. I have a couple of ideas for it, but I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes here. I would love to know the history behind it.

  • Gene July 14, 2010, 5:14 am

    I think the reason these terms are always so confused is because those who lack intelligence never think so. No one wants to be a dork, but unfortunately, many are. If you have “some” intelligence, you’d either a dork or simply not on this chart.

    You know if you belong on the chart, but only the non-dorks will be able to categorize you.

  • Gene July 14, 2010, 5:20 am

    “One should aim at pure intelligence. Obsession and social ineptitude are detriments pointing to a lack of intelligence. Meaning, by virtue of privatio boni, the axis of intelligence points towards perfection, while anything tending away from it is imperfect, a privation.”

    You’re thinking about the diagram all the wrong way. Essentially, the “intelligence” circle is inclusive, where “socially inept” is more of the lack of social skill (which one persuing intelligence would be) and obsession could be seen as the lack of moderation.

    So essentially, one who forsakes that which is social and that which is well-rounded, becomes purely intelligence based, or a nerd. Nerd, Geek, and Dweed (by this diagram) should all be considered positive, because they contain intelligence but simply harness it in different ways. Perhaps “True nerds” would have to be in the Nerd category, to fully forsake the world and to become an expert.

    As long as you’re not a dork, who cares though.

  • joe July 22, 2010, 6:35 pm

    I guess I’m a geek.

  • Barb @ 1 Sentence Diary July 22, 2010, 8:11 pm

    I’m not sure I completely agree with this diagram. But I did enjoy thinking about it! Which, I suppose, makes me a nerd as well. But that’s OK, because I embrace my inner nerdiness!

  • Jason Stockmann July 26, 2010, 11:05 am

    This would be more accurately depicted as cube, with each of the three axes representing the degree of intelligence, obsession, and social ineptitude. One vertex would be chosen as the origin, representing a “healthy control” individual (whatever that is). Extreme outliers would then reside on each of the 7 remaining vertices.

    Nerds, dorks, geeks, and dweebs would then each occupy a blob of space within the cube, with the paradigmatic individuals residing at each of the 4 vertices that combine excursions in more than one coordinate (i.e., not the vertex for pure “obsession” with no component of the other two qualities).

  • Geeks vs Nerds August 6, 2010, 4:55 pm

    So according to the diagram, a geek is a socially apt nerd :)

    Here’s my 2 cents. I always thought nerds were good and things like mathematics and physics, and eventually became the guys who invent stuff.

    Geeks on the other hand might know everything about the newest tech (to the point of obsession), but they are users – not inventors.

  • Nerds vs Geeks September 6, 2010, 11:38 am

    I agree with: Geeks vs Nerds Says:
    August 6th, 2010 at 4:55 pm
    So according to the diagram, a geek is a socially apt nerd :)
    Here’s my 2 cents. I always thought nerds were good and things like mathematics and physics, and eventually became the guys who invent stuff.
    Geeks on the other hand might know everything about the newest tech (to the point of obsession), but they are users – not inventors.

    YOU HAVE GEEKS AND NERDS THE WRONG WAY AROUND

  • Gweeky Derd September 16, 2010, 11:05 am

    When I was growing up in the midwest (high school class of ’74) ‘dweeb’ was rarely used. I think when it was used, it was to add emphasis to what would have been ‘dork’… I dunno … kind of a super-dork. I would just remove dweeb. Also, I support Geek #42’s color recommendations ;-)

  • Another Geek September 18, 2010, 2:01 am

    After somewhat skimming through the comments, I have two comments of my own to make.

    First, there are obviously varying definitions of these terms. We need an industry standard in place, whether this one or another.

    Second, even among those who agree and accept this as a starting place for an industry standard, there is a lot of disagreement about the specific qualities that make a geek, nerd, dork, etc. Things not listed here like “diversify vs specialize” and “love to learn and get fired up about botany.” However, although the types of people here love to categorize and define, remember that this diagram is for the lay person, and isn’t meant as an exact definition. It’s simply an easier way to explain that you, indeed, are NOT a dork! Or whichever you were most recently mistakenly called.

  • Heather September 27, 2010, 6:15 am

    Where’s the spot for people who are smart and just weird? I don’t think I’m socially inept or obsessive, but I am kind of smart. And I’m weird.

    Alas. Left out again. It’s like high school all over again. *Sigh.*

  • Ed October 17, 2010, 2:07 am

    “Stop hanging out with people from the 1950s.”

    Hey, I’m from the early ’50’s and I consider myself a NERD!! Just sayin’

  • Jules October 17, 2010, 7:11 am

    Your chart would suggest that Nerds are the perfect combination. AE Nerds may be shy yet friendly, obsessed but not to the point of craziness, and intelligent but not to the point where you couldn’t understand what they say. I agree. I am definitly a NERD with a bit of geek. Nerds Rule!

  • How to Build a House October 18, 2010, 2:05 am

    This was exactly what I was trying to explain to my brother last night! I feel vindicated!

  • Rod October 18, 2010, 2:49 pm

    Some comments:
    1. 100 FB friends and 300 Twitter followers won’t make you a Social person (so you may be a nerd after all.
    2. If you understand the graph and care to comment, chances are you are in the group.
    3. If you think an athlete is a geek, you are not on this list.. well maybe you are a dork (so is the athlete)
    4. “Umm, there are four in your diagram” but the title say that we are concentrating on just tree. You’re welcome (dork?)

  • Cody December 17, 2010, 7:04 pm

    thats funny, where is HERMIT on this diagram? lol

  • pete February 17, 2011, 1:15 pm

    someone should make also diagram like this for – sexy, hot, good looking, etc

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