This week, y’all get to vote on the etymology of a very important word.

Cover of "If I Ran the Zoo (Classic Seuss...

Cover of If I Ran the Zoo (Classic Seuss)


‘Cuz there’s two very, very different options (other dictionaries say something to the effect of “uncertain American origin”). Therefore, YOU get to choose!

Here’s what the Online Etymology Dictionary says:

<<nerd (n.) 1951, U.S. student slang, probably an alteration of 1940s slang nert “stupid or crazy person,” itself an alteration of nut. The word turns up in a Dr. Seuss book from 1950 (“If I Ran the Zoo”), which may have contributed to its rise.>>


And here is what the Webster’s New World  College Dictionary (Fourth Edition) says about nerd:

<<[[? Rhyming slang for TURD]] a person regarded as socially dull, unsophisticated, awkward,  etc., specif. as from being preoccupied with schoolwork, an intellectual hobby, etc.>>

This terribly important decision about this terribly burning issue counts as this week’s WORD NERD CHALLENGE. Vote early, vote often, in this very first Word Nerd poll. Tune in on Friday for the results, too.