How to Tell If Someone is a Nerd?

Most of the time, nerds are seen as social outcasts. In most movies, they are portrayed as weird characters that are somehow anti-social, and all they do is study and focus on other “nerdy” stuff. That is why for some, it is not that fun to be called a “nerd” when you know there is malice behind the words. In addition to that, a lot of “nerdy” things draw indignation from non-nerds. But there are many things that people should not be ashamed of, no matter how nerdy they seem to be. 

It is quite easy for some people to label others as nerds. In fact, some judge them through their physical appearance, just like how they are portrayed in movies and television shows. But what does a nerd look like? For them, nerds are those who wear glasses and braces and are always seen reading books and playing video games. But how do you tell if someone is really a nerd? If you have the same question in mind, read on as we’re giving you more information about this.

What is a Nerd?

A nerd is an individual who is seen as overly intellectual, obsessive, introverted, and missing social skills. It includes people who may spend excessive amounts of time on unpopular, little-known, or non-mainstream activities, which are mostly highly technical, abstract, or related to science fiction or fantasy topics. In addition to that, a lot of so-called nerds are described as being unattractive, shy, and quirky. 

Formerly, the term “nerd” was a stereotype. But as with other pejoratives, it has been cultivated and redefined by some people as a term of pride and group identity. However, other terms such as geek and dork have not experienced the same positive drift in meaning and usage. 

Where Did the Word “Nerd” Come From?

lots of books

The word “nerd” has been documented for the first time as the name of a creature in the 1950 book “If I Ran the Zoo” by Dr. Seuss. In this story, the narrator claims that he would collect “a Nerkle, a Nerd, and a Seersucker too” for the imaginary zoo. 

However, the slang meaning of the word dates to 1951, when Newsweek magazine published about its popular use as a synonym for drop or square in Detroit, Michigan. In the early 1960s, the use of the term became popular throughout the United States, and it even reached Scotland. At some point, the word took on implications of social incompetence and bookishness.

What are the Signs That a Person is a Nerd?

student with glasses using a laptop beside stacks of books

The standard definition of a nerd usually involves more computer use these days. But you also have to note that a real nerd is someone who’s knowledgeable in whatever obsession they have, almost to the point that they can annoy other people out there with their knowledge. So, how can you tell if someone is a nerd? Here are some of the signs that you can consider:

1. A person is possibly a nerd if he likes books more than he likes people.

For most nerds, books are their most sacred possessions. Others do not expect them to hang out, particularly if they are in the middle of reading a certain book. For nerds, lending a book to someone is the ultimate sign of trust. They are those who die a little on the inside when the book is returned to them with a crease on the cover. Books are the reason nerds love to sit on the couch and usually avoid social gatherings and other noisy places. The scent of bookstores is figuratively heaven for nerds, too.

2. Nerds are always curious.

A person is a nerd when he takes great joy in questioning everything. They never get tired of being inquisitive or nosy. They pry and probe into the smallest of things. After all, they are also those who have answers to every how, why, when, and what. It is dull for them to pause and make an end. Nerds can debate any topic for hours without ever getting bored. 

3. Most people who top the class are nerds.

For nerds, topping their class never fails to get their adrenaline pumping. They are the ones who always pay attention to the teachers when they are speaking and who always have their assignments done on time. Is there any harm in those taking pride in being overly intellectual? Well, according to Charles Sykes, people should be nice to nerds as they may end up working for them. 

4. Nerds are very particular about the television shows that they watch.

All of us can be drawn into binge-watching television shows. However, what separates nerds from others is that they are very particular with what they watch. They are the ones who shamelessly impose their favorites upon others. For them, reality TV is the worst kind of TV show. Most of the time, they are into watching sci-fi, crime, mystery, and superhero shows. Binge-watching TV shows at home is quite the same as their obsession with reading books. Well, both of these are fun ways to kill time and escape reality.

5. A person can be a nerd if incorrect grammar usage irks him.

Nerds are usually repulsed by incorrect grammar usage. They never take grammar lessons lightly. When you talk to them or read their works, you will notice that they are well-versed when it comes to the difference between “uninterested” and “disinterested” and more. Most of them suppress their corrections. However, others just can’t resist sometimes. 

6. Someone is possible a nerd if he’s sapiosexual.

A sapiosexual is someone who’s attracted to smart and intelligent people. Most of the time, a nerd’s attention is not caught by good looks but rather by wit and a quick mind. Nerds are comfortable with other nerds. Therefore, they are most attracted to people who they can talk to for hours about their obsessions with books, TV shows, and other nerdy things. 

7. A person is a nerd if he has a large variety of interests.

Nerds are those who can’t imagine life without movies, superheroes, TV shows, books, and games as they are obsessed with them. When a person has such a multitude of interests, they are never bored. For Zachary Levi, a nerd is someone whose uncontrolled passion for something or things expresses who they are as a person without fear of judgment from others. 

8. You can tell that a person is a nerd when he loves mind-boggling puzzles.

Nerds love challenges. That is why puzzles are great pastimes for them. They are also the ones who can invent their own little games when they are not satisfied with the traditional ones. They are the ones who do not need to go to amusement parks and ride roller coasters to have fun. They are also the people who love answering quizzes and tests online about anything. For them, the longer the instruction manual, the better. Games that others find boring as usually the ones that nerds like.

9. A person is a nerd if he escapes reality through video games.

a nerd emoji in front of gaming consoles

A lot of people play video games for fun. But for nerds, these games are a form of escapism. Well, it is reasonable to think that someone who needs to escape real life is possibly a social outcast in some way. But you also have to remember that all hobbies are a form of escapism. All of us deserve some break from the stressful life, right? Nerds are still stereotyped as those who can play video games for hours. But today, video games are not just for nerds as more and more people are enjoying them.

10. Nerds usually have small social circles.

One of the greatest stereotypes for nerds is being anti-social introverts. But we can say those true nerds are those who just like to keep their social circles small. Most of them focus on the relationship they have with real people. Well, there’s no shame in having a tight-knit group of friends where you can share more personal stories about your life. Plus, with all their obsessions and hobbies, most of them truly do not have extra time to socialize and make many friends.


These are some of the signs that you can consider to tell if someone is a nerd. While there are people out there who consider being called a nerd an insult, most nerds today tend to have no shame. If you want to learn how to tell if someone is a nerd out of concern for that person or maybe for yourself, you should not have any fear. Nerds will always be around, and some are even ready to take over the world with the knowledge that they hold.