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Munroe sits atop a small empire built around xkcd, an online comic revered by science students, computer programmers and Silicon Valley workers.

Where did these words come from?

But has anything been lost by this shift? Never before has the boundary between geek culture and mainstream culture been so porous.

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Even sportsmen unabashedly refer to themselves as "nerds". Has society embraced geek culture? Some of those who self-identify as nerds and geeks look back nostalgically on the time their status felt rebellious, says Benjamin Nugent, author of American Nerd: The Story of My People.

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There's been a long period of "reappropriation" of the words "geek" and "nerd". But after two decades of "reappropriation" has "nerd" - and its negd word "geek" - now completely lost its derogatory connotations? Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings, who has just been voted " sexiest man of the year ", said of the honour: "It's a little weird because I'm a nerd video game player.

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And as Gaiman says: "Nowadays, people own their nerd-dom. Stamper argues "nerd" now denotes a depth of knowledge in a particular area, while "geek" appears to have taken on the more technical overtones that "nerd" once had.

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Please use only your first name. Some lexicographers have been slow to reflect the new status of "nerd" and "geek".

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And some see a transatlantic divide, with "geek" used in US and UK, but "nerd" somehow feeling less British. Merriam-Webster Dictionary mentions the book If I Ran the Zoo in its etymology as the leading contender as source for the term. Historic geeks are celebrated, with Alan Turing and Nikola Tesla's legacies provoking great passions. But the hardcore take to forums like Reddit to deride those who think they are nerds and geeks but are perceived as lacking the right credentials.

A slew of comedies over the past few years have had geeks as heroes, such as Tim Bisley - geem comics, video game and Star Wars-obsessive of Spaced - and Sheldon Cooper, the precocious physicist of The Big Bang Theory.

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Are You a Nerd or a Geek? In Skyfall, Bond's gadget guru Q has evolved into a slick computer geek. Tnat millions watching via computer, Tim Cook, the Apple chief executive, who has an industrial engineering degree, unveiled three versions of the watch, hoping to broaden the appeal of a fashion accessory traditionally worn by the calculus crowd. Ned easy to argue that "nerd" and "geek", with their very different roots, retain different meanings, arguably with the former still more derogatory than the latter.

Gaming is definitely mainstream.

Are 'geek' and 'nerd' now positive terms?

Many think it devalues the word. In Sweden, an online petition to change the dictionary definition of "nerd" - a "simple-minded and laughable person" - has gathered almost 4, atures. The record for biggest US movie opening weekend is held by a movie based on comics. Gadget wristwatches are all the rage. That year, this definition was published in Newsweek: thar Detroit, someone who once would be called a drip or a square is now, regrettably, a nerd.

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English writer Neil Gaiman - author of the Sandman comic book series, Stardust and Coraline novels - says he is fascinated by how "incredibly quickly" both words took off in the UK after the s. But it was terribly prescient given what followed in the next 30 years - the people who were good at football didn't have the jobs, while the ones who weren't good at football and might have had trouble picking up girls in their teens were more than making money, they were changing the world.

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And, as you may have heard, Apple last week introduced a new version of an old geek totem — the gadget wristwatch. For privacy policy reasons, we will not publish student comments that include a last name. There was a slow shift and by the s, it began to register a neutral sense. Are you a nerd or a geek? Somewhere along the line, this changed to being part of a certain culture, watching this TV show and wearing that type of clothing.

On Wednesday, Mr. Take, for example, the way many gay people have altered the meaning of the word "queer".

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To turn that on its head could form the basis for comedy. Students: Read the entire article, then tell us … — Are you a nerd or a geek?

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Someone at Time Out changed this to 'Greek' because they said they hadn't come across the word. According to reportsthe Swedish Academy says it might change the definition to something more neutral in the future. Or, is being good at science, or the high scorer on the math team, still not going to win a teenager any popularity awards? They were turning into outlaws - pallid versions of Jesse James.

The Social Network in came in a very different social milieu. Beyond Mr.

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The classic current use of "geek" as a self-description is typically accompanied by something else - "stats geek", "physics geek", "history geek" and even "cocktail geek" all being standard usages. Today when people think of "geeks" and "nerds" they might very well name the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg - gee, whose imagination and grasp of the technical made them billions.

Jocks, those who were good at sport, or other socially successful groups, usually ended up winning. This process of reappropriation is common. And the appropriation of the word "nerd" was a "battle that got won", says Gaiman. Things have changed.

New York Times blogger and geeky statistician Nate Silver has been hailed as an unexpected star of the US presidential election after correctly predicting the outcome. Is being a nerd or a geek something to be proud of? Students 13 and older are invited to comment below.

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Not much, it turns out, unless you used really, really big lasers. And that's such a different concept. Now a nerd, or a "geek", can be a driven Machiavellian bent on success - Gordon Gekko in a zip-up hoodie. The Revenge wpecial the Nerd films cemented in people's minds the image of a socially awkward, brainy group that particularly dealt with technology.

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The very first depiction of a "nerd" is believed to have been a hairy, critter created by children's author-illustrator Dr Seuss.

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