"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Friday, 9 November 2012


   Nerd (n)
[Pronopunced nurd]

The slang term 'nerd' means an intelligent but single-minded person, obsessed with a certain hobby or pursuit, e.g. a computer nerd. But the word that has been the bane of so many elementary schooler's existence was actually invented by their king: none other than Dr. Seuss himself! The word first appeared in print in Seuss's 1950 picture book, If I Ran the Zoo.

But Seuss's 'nerd' was a small animal from the land of Ka-Troo, not a pale kid with glasses taped together.

Thanks to thesaurus.com for the above and thefreedcitionary for the following:-

 Nerd next appears, with a gloss, in the February 10, 1957, issue of the Glasgow, Scotland, Sunday Mail in a regular column entitled "ABC for SQUARES": "Nerda square, any explanation needed?" Many of the terms defined in this "ABC" are unmistakable Americanisms, such as hep, ick, and jazzy, as is the gloss "square," the current meaning of nerd. The third appearance of nerd in print is back in the United States in 1970 in Current Slang: "Nurd [sic], someone with objectionable habits or traits.... An uninteresting person, a 'dud.'" Authorities disagree on whether the two nerdsDr. Seuss's small creature and the teenage slang term in the Glasgow Sunday Mailare the same word. Some experts claim there is no semantic connection and the identity of the words is fortuitous. Others maintain that Dr. Seuss is the true originator of nerd and that the word nerd ("comically unpleasant creature") was picked up by the five- and six-year-olds of 1950 and passed on to their older siblings, who by 1957, as teenagers, had restricted and specified the meaning to the most comically obnoxious creature of their own class, a "square."


  1. Actually I don't think I ever read anything by Dr Seuss.(?) I guess that's a gap in my literary education.