Thursday, August 03, 2006

Now "nerd" is an interesting word

Nerds have of course been around for a long time. At least as long as people have read Tolkien and wanted to name their first born Boromir. But the word itself is fairly recent. Anatoly Liberman, in his course on the History of English Words, argued that its appearance coincided with the rise of computers.

OED's first citation of the word attests to its use in Detroit in 1951 (reported by Newsweek). As for etymology, it can only give several options that it judges to be unlikely. A curious world demands better. We could engage in thorough research of popular media and private communications from mid-century Detroit. Or we could make up some folk etymologies on the spot. Any takers?

7 comments:

Pirate Jimmy said...

Rofl, I found this fun definition of Nerd while researching:
"A stereotypical label used to describe a person that is socially inadequate. A four letter word, but a six figure income."

other fun definitions here

Special K said...

Hold your horses. You can't get us off on another tangent without first enlightening us with the answer to the previous post!

Boromir said...

I said the correct answer. Bilbo Baggins yelled Attercop at the spiders of mirkwood in the book, The Hobbit. The answer to your next question is yes. I will have Chaka bless my first born.

Chaka said...

While we're looking up definitions, what does rofl mean?

Pirate Jimmy said...

"rolling on floor laughing"

It's a very nerdy thing to say, sometimes I accidentally let it slip when I'm typing.

Linus said...

i used to roll around on the floor and laugh, but 'they' seemed to look down upon that these days.

Chaka said...

Hmm...your initial post would then suggest that you found the fun definition while rolling on the floor laughing. This seems implausible.

Of course, the participial phrase could be a result clause, but English doesn't usually do that. I don't know if Greek even does that.