The word ‘Geek’ has a Germanic or Dutch (or both) origin. These variants were recorded as early as the 1500s. In the medieval days, the word used for ‘Fools’, by Germans was ‘Geck’ and the word used for ‘mad’ or ‘silly’ by Dutch was ‘Gek.’ Later, most probably in the 19th century when Britishers toured the world for an intention to Rule or do business with them, the dialect found a place in English word books as ‘Geek’.
In the first half of the 20th century, the word geek was implied for a circus sideshow performer who was so unworthy to please the crowd that he had to bit the heads off small live animals to cheer them, and they got cheered. The grotesque acts performed by those circus geeks, un-surprisedly made sure that geek was to be described as Oddballs and Self-centred. By the 1950s and 1960s, a geek was still an “unlikeable idiot.” It is also believed that William Lindsay Gresham’s novel Nightmare Alley (1946), about the darker side of showbiz, may have helped popularize the term ‘Geek’. But not for long!
Since then, the connotative drift occurred, as the circus shows disappeared, and the tradition proceeded to term strange, eccentric, self-centred individuals as ‘Geek types‘. Then there were bullies, who termed and bullied anyone with cheap spectacles as the Geeks.
The Geek age
Then came the age of Computers. After Computer invaded every household, a gradual change in the meaning of the slang use of geek emerged, again. The pop culture of the 1980s designated a smart group of young tech enthusiasts but socially awkward- as Geeks.
In the second half of the 20th century, a similarly described word to geek emerged. They were named Nerds. They were the typical studious kind of guys. Defined as- an unpopular, overly intellectual young person who has an interest in science or math. Nerds were not considered cool.
Things changed come the 21st century, both of the words Geek and Nerd, slowly evolved to be near-synonyms. The 21st Century Geeks and Nerds are the smartest people around, irrespective of age and gender. They are particular subject enthusiasts and are at their A game on the topic, so well-informed and passionate.
As they say, Time heals everything. Today these labels don’t affect an individual if he/she is termed or linked to these Cats of Geek or Nerd.
But what has changed over the period of time? How Geek became a compliment from a slang?
The Evolution of Geek
A big credit goes to mainstream pop culture, who by the end of the 20th century, embraced science fiction. The Sci-Fi movies like Virtuosity (1995), Independence Day (1996), The Matrix (1999), Armageddon (1998), Deep Impact (1998), created a certain fandom, except for the Geeks and Nerds. Then came the franchise film series as Star Trek, Star Wars and the epic Matrix series, all boomed at the box office.
As soon as the filmmakers saw $$ in these projects, Sci-fi was no longer a limited genre, of film Geeks and comic book Geeks. Soon this genre became a common cultural touchstone. Then Guess what! DC, Marvel and beyond… Sci-Fi is the most loved and most earning genre of this world. Can any other genre movie beat Avatar or Endgame?
Then, the rise and rise of computer technology. This was 21st-century. It remodelled almost every aspect of lives. The Geeks, specialists in technology who once were depreciated for their interests, soon got acknowledged as the most valued and pivotal members of society.
With it, the Internet helped the Geeks to find like-minded companions, with whom they shared the topics of their specialized and possibly isolating interests, connecting and creating thriving communities. With the Internet and tech revolution, the geek boomed in popularity with its friend nerd. Unlike nerd, though, the word geek rooted itself more squarely with technology-related fields from once called unworthy and foolish.
And now, because technology is so important in the Digital Age, so are Geeks!
Geek and nerd, terms with a painful and exclusionary history and are not always appropriate labels to force on someone else. However, these days it has become a trend practised by people to refer themselves and others they know as Geeks. If it is to be used to mean a specialist or an enthusiast, the term Geek or nerd are most expected by any individuals.
Actually, in this modern world, Geeks and Nerds- they aren’t two distinct personalities but are different aspects of a personality. But does it suffice? Know the variations to the word Geek, invented by many, in our next,