WTF Fun Fact 13209 – The Origin of the Word Nerd

The word “nerd” was first coined by Dr. Seuss in his book “If I Ran the Zoo.”

What’s the origin of the word Nerd?

The first use of the word nerd appeared in Dr. Seuss’s 1950 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!

According to Merriam-Webster (cited below):

“In October of the following year, Newsweek carried an article about the latest slang that includes the word nerd. ‘In Detroit,’ it notes, ‘someone who once would be called a drip or a square is now, regrettably, a nerd, or in less severe cases, a scurve.’
It’s not until the 1960s, however, that nerd (as well as its alternate spelling nurd) takes off and starts appearing more frequently in running text (as opposed to lists of slang). Over the decade and into the ’70s, print usage of nerd became truly abundant. It could be said, then, that nerd established colloquial usage around that time.”

What makes someone nerdy?

Traditionally, a nerd is a person who is highly intellectual and knowledgeable in a particular field. But it’s typically coupled with being socially awkward. Nerds are often seen as being overly absorbed in their interests. They’re and are often associated with being passionate about a certain subject, such as science, technology, mathematics, or fantasy fiction.

More recently, the term “nerd” has been reclaimed by many people and has taken on a more positive connotation. People are now proud to call themselves “nerds.” They believe it makes them seem proud of their superior knowledge on a topic.

If the modern word “nerd” truly came from Dr. Suess, it was likely interpreted as a pejorative term because of the appearance of the character sharing a page with the passage. However, that character appeared to be more grouchy than traditionally nerdy.

Merriam-Webster suggests other possible origins for the word nerd as it related to being deeply passionate yet uncool.

“Another character whose name has been mentioned as a possible source of the word is Mortimer Snerd, a ventriloquist’s dummy created by Edgar Bergen. Modeled on a country bumpkin, Snerd perhaps reminded listeners of a “drip” (someone who is looked on as tiresomely or annoyingly dull), and, therefore—according to Newsweek in 1951—a nerd. Snerd’s drippy qualities were magnified by his sophisticated foil, the dummy Charlie McCarthy. Bergen’s radio show was popular from the late 1930s through the 1950s, and it’s possible that Seuss had Snerd in mind when he wrote the rhyme—but the claim is unverifiable.”

 WTF fun facts

Source: “The Many Origin Stories of ‘Nerd'” — Merriam-Webster

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WTF Fun Fact 12597 – The Man Who Married A Pillow

In 2010, a 28-year-old Korean man named Lee Jin-Gyu fell in love with his body pillow. The Japanese dakimakura is a cushy life-sized that also just so happens to have an anime character printed on it.

According to a widely-cited story in Metro UK:

“In Lee’s case, his beloved pillow has an image of Fate Testarossa, from the ‘magical girl’ anime series Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha. Now the 28-year-old otaku (a Japanese term that roughly translates to somewhere between ‘obsessive’ and ‘nerd’) has wed the pillow in a special ceremony, after fitting it out with a wedding dress for the service in front of a local priest. Their nuptials were eagerly chronicled by the local media. ‘He is completely obsessed with this pillow and takes it everywhere,’ said one friend. ‘They go out to the park or the funfair where it will go on all the rides with him. Then when he goes out to eat he takes it with him and it gets its own seat and its own meal,’ they added.”

A priest presided over the special ceremony. The groom kissed the “bride,” and locals reported to the Korean media that the pair went everywhere together, including out to dinner and on theme park rides.

The wedding isn’t legal, of course, but it came on the of a Japanese man “marrying” his Nene Anegasaki, a character who only exists in the Nintendo DS game “Love Plus” in November 2009.  – WTF fun facts

Source: “Man marries pillow” — Metro UK

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