Thoughts and Musings
The FuRPiG Game
Once more, from the American Heritage Dictionary:
WORD HISTORY: The word nerd and a nerd, undefined but illustrated, first appeared in 1950 in Dr. Seuss's If I Ran the Zoo: "And then, just to show them, I'll sail to Ka-Troo And Bring Back an It-Kutch a Preep and a Proo a Nerkle a Nerd and a Seersucker, too!" (The nerd itself is a small humanoid creature looking comically angry, like a thin, cross Chester A. Arthur.) 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": "Nerd -- a 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.'"
- nerd also nurd n. Slang.
- A person regarded as stupid, inept, or unattractive.
- A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific pursuits but is felt to be socially inept.
- [Perhaps after Nerd, a character in If I Ran the Zoo, by Theodor Seuss Geisel.]
Authorities disagree on whether the two nerds -- Dr. Seuss's small creature and the teenage slang term in the Glasgow Sunday Mail -- are 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."
Dr. Seuss's Nerd from If I Ran the Zoo
For my own history of the term, see my page: A Brief History of the Nerd.
Updated: Tuesday, July 15, 2008
|| Home Page
| Role Playing
| Nerd's Corner
| Free Speech etc.
|| Brons's Home Page
| The Nerd's Corner Index
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.