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32144.  Thu Nov 17, 2005 2:17 pm Reply with quote

Dr Seuss invented the word nerd in his 1950 book 'If I Ran The Zoo'

32162.  Thu Nov 17, 2005 3:38 pm Reply with quote

But is that the actual origin? I've seen this "factoid" mentioned many times, but the usually relaible etymology online claims that it is US campus slang, coming from nut via nert.

U.S. student slang, probably an alteration of 1940s slang nert "stupid or crazy person," itself an alteration of nut.

Even if the Seuss book pre-dates the college-slang origin, I would propose that nerd arose independently from the book, and as this site says:

The word turns up in a Dr. Seuss book from 1950 ("If I Ran the Zoo"), which may have contributed to its rise.

My guess is that "Dr Seuss invented the word nerd" is misleading at best. If he did invent a word spelled "n.e.r.d", it was not with the current-day meaning in mind, and is not the original root of today's word.

Anyway, it's not for me to make up anyone's mind, what do people think?
For completion, here is the Seuss citation:

"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!"


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