Geek Etymology

“Why have you suffer’d me to be imprison’d,
Kept in a dark house, visited by the priest,
And made the most notorious geck and gull
That e’er invention play’d on? tell me why”.  
 Shakespeare in Twelfth Night, V.i

Simply, geek is a variant of the Low German/Dutch word, geck, meaning a fool, simpleton, or dupe and I suspect it was originally intended as ridicule.  As a society we have always tended to categorize people and apply short pejoratives to the category created. “Mods”, “rockers”, “hippies”, “boomers”, and so on. “Geek” is generally applied to those of us who tend to become completely captured by the details of some topic or discipline. Thirty or 40 years ago most geeks were technically oriented, but as time passes we have further defined our geekiness into sub-categories, like game geeks, word geeks, movie geeks… (I can’t explain why sports geeks are called “super fans”.)

In the mid-90s a geek geek,  Robert Hayden created the “geek code”, a programming construct that allowed one to precisely define their geek-traits. Mine is located on the About page.

There is no question that we are inclined to unusual, “focused”, sometimes foolish behaviors! We probably have deserved some of the ridicule. But give us some credit: We have taken the ridicule and the term, redefined them in our image and made Geek (with a capital G) a core element of what we are.

Is it any wonder that the preponderance of entrepreneurs are Geeks of one type or another?

You are probably asking about now, “What are the differences between geeks, nerds, dorks and dweebs. The distinctions are clear and precise, and we will talk about them soon.

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