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And In The Beginning - There Was Nerd


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Ask Yahoo can give you awesome questions and answers you never even thought about. Here is one:


Dear Yahoo!:

Where does the word "nerd" come from?


Houston, Texas

Dear Hector:

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the word "nerd" first appeared in print in Dr. Seuss' book "If I Ran the Zoo" in 1950.


"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!"


"Nerd" next showed up in a 1957 newspaper column in the Sunday Mail that read: "Nerd -- a square, any explanation needed?" Its third printing (now "nurd") was in the 1970 edition of "Current Slang": "someone with objectionable habits or traits... a 'dud.'"


However, Dr. Seuss' "Nerd" bears little resemblance to today's stereotypical nerd, and if Seuss and his young readers were the originator of the nerd phenomenon, why didn't "It-Kutch," "Preep," "Proo," "Nerkle," or "Seersucker" catch on as well?


Not surprisingly, there are many other creation theories: One is that "nerd" originated with employees at the Canadian Northern Electric Research and Development company who wore pocket protectors labeled with the acronym N.E.R.D. Another believes "nerd" was originally "knurd" ("drunk" spelled backwards), and was used to taunt university students who were too studious to drink.


Slate's Franklin Foer claims that no one has "concretely pinned down" the word's origin, and comments that it took the birth of "coolness" for nerd to be defined. Now that nerds are both successful and cool, Foer attempts to fill the gap in our cultural lexicon with the word "nebbish." Perhaps Proo or Nerkle would be just as appropriate.

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