May be a stupid question...


I like to browse the websites about old calculator and computer, particulary about hp, as I have myself a small collection.
In some articles, I have often noticed that calculator fanatics are called "geek" or "nerd". As I am french, I am not able to translate exactly these words and they are not in my dictionary. I suppose it is something humoristic.
Could you tell me what they mean exactly ?
All the best


Hi Pierre,

A nerd has no translation in French. C'est en fait un "premier de classe", le type plutôt associal, avec des lunettes, plus malin que tout le monde et qui énerve son entourage. Agan, dans les oeuvres de Goscinny et Sempé se rapproche bien de cette définition.


Hello Pierre

Geek, and Nerds, which may or may not be the same thing depending on when and where you are (like, 1977 at Cal Tech vs 1998 at MIT etc) have the following general characteristics:

Do not care that they either dress different, act different, or think differently from the majority of persons in the school,

Do not participate in parties, drinking, etc

Not athletic

Academically or intellectually superior (or just perceived to be)

Now, it gets complicated, because the athletic part, or any other part of the definition is really not universal---in other words the California Nerd is defined more by his lack of beach savvy than the MIT Eastern nerd...

The one true over-riding "Nerdyness" or "Geekyness" is an extreme interest in something, especially if it is not a mainstream popular culture interest--and especially if you "know too much" about it. So by this definition, people who would seem "tough" or "cool" are in fact truly nerds: for example, motorcycle gang types, or "chopper bike" enthusiasts generally, are in fact very nerdy: they know a whole lot about something that is not mainstream: motorcycles; they are fanatical about it, and they don't care that they look different. So, take heart all you nerds: You have a lot in common with some of the "toughest" out there!

In american teenage popular culture (which is of course where all of this sort of self-conscious blather starts) it is not cool to know anything in depth. The less you know, the better--except what the latest eminem or brittany (sp?) spears song is---but only in a superficial way. Teenage girls are especially affected--they start to worry more about how they look, and the idea of studying or learning anything useful is considered way uncool. The boys have similar pressure, but really not as much--they don't worry about makeup, and teenage boys are so goofey anyway that it really does not matter how hard they try to be cool, they still look and act goofy.

Now in France, everyone is so worried about passing their Bach and getting into "universite" that it is I imagine more acceptable to be earnest in one's studies.....




I would tend to disagree with the previous, overly broad definition of geek or nerd. These words can be simply stated as the combination of (1) social awkwardness, and (2) obsession with academics. Other types may be fanatical or obsessive about something else, but I don't think that fits the definition of geek or nerd. Interest in alculators, being linked to academics, might fit one part of the definition but not both. However, if you spend so much time thinking about them that you don't know how to participate in any other topics of conversation, then you are probably a nerd. However, if you have a similar problem with sports or motorcycles, that just makes you a jock or a gearhead, which is just as bad, but still different. Perhaps we should put together some common-sense guidelines, like "You might be a nerd if..."


Dear Pierre,
There's no stupid question.
"geek" means "débile, crétin"
"nerd" means "nullard"
Yours. Regards from Normandy.

Cher Pierre,
Il n'y a pas de question stupide.
"geek" signifie "débile, crétin"
"nerd" veut dire "nullard"
Cordialement. Salutations de Normandie.


Thank you all for the responses.
So "nerd" and "geek" are quite the same ?
I read for the first time the word "nerd" in this very good Bob Noble's article about restoring calculators :
All the best


Both words have made it into modern American slang and are in the dictionary. Here from the American Heritage Talking Dictionary:


n. Slang. 1. A person regarded as stupid, inept, or unattractive. 2. A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific pursuits but is felt to be socially inept.

Excerpted from American Heritage Talking Dictionary
Copyright © 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


n. Slang. 1. A person regarded as stupid, inept, or unattractive. 2. A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific pursuits but is felt to be socially inept.

Excerpted from American Heritage Talking Dictionary
Copyright © 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I confess that I have always thought of a geek as more intelectually inclined than a nerd. <An enormous grin>



Actually the first geeks were those circus performers who went around biting the heads off of live chickens, etc...


It's simple. If you carry your HP in a case with a belt loop attached to your belt you're a nerd.

Same rule as in slide rule days. If you carried your slide rule in a case on your belt you were a nerd.

I think geek started out with biting chicken heads and then gradually became more or less the same as nerd.


I feel that it is a VERY regional thing. In the Pacific Northwest: Geeks get dates. In may cases the term Geek is place as a badge or grand title like but below Master or Guru. I have talked to some from the Mid West that felt that Geek was a class below Nerd.


Geeks and Nerds used to rank low on the social scale. Now days they rank much higher, it's a case of the geeks and nerds shall inherit the Earth. What does a jock do after school? Is there even life after school? Gearheads don't make big bucks after school. This fact has penetrated the minds of even the dense since Bill Gates.

Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Stupid idea of the day: 41-compatible watch bhtooefr 0 360 03-31-2013, 08:23 AM
Last Post: bhtooefr
  Another stupid WP34S question Geoff Quickfall 2 424 06-16-2012, 11:21 PM
Last Post: Geoff Quickfall
  Stupid question number...WS34P Geoff Quickfall 16 1,321 06-16-2012, 07:04 AM
Last Post: Paul Dale
  Stupid question re HP-41 Sigma key... Jim L (OHIO) 5 632 07-19-2010, 06:04 PM
Last Post: BruceH
  Stupid Scammer! Ron 9 790 06-11-2005, 05:16 PM
Last Post: Nenad (Croatia)
  Stupid Question: Difference btn. 38G and 40G Maximilian Hohmann 4 518 06-11-2005, 03:05 AM
Last Post: R Lion
  STUPID BUTUSEFUL CHALLENGE #879 8 760 07-08-2002, 10:39 AM
Last Post: Paul Brogger
  AARRRRG! Stupid !#$@*&! HP-17BII! W. Bruce Maguire II 2 396 01-09-2002, 03:45 PM
Last Post: Ron Ross
  Stupid HP-25 Questions Tom 7 636 02-15-2001, 01:38 PM
Last Post: Tom

Forum Jump: