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I was watching An Evening With Kevin Smith (The full 2 hours of it free) the other night and a guy named “Geek” asked Kevin a question — and Kevin had a throw-away comment about the word “Geek” originating from someone biting chicken heads off.

That got me thinking about the origin of the word “geek,” so I did some quick research. Hope you enjoy:

 “Geek” Timeline

1510’s — German word used to describe a fool or a simpleton.

1700’s — “Gecken” referred to freaks in some circus side-shows in Austria-Hungary.

1916 — Used to describe any sideshow “freak.”

1940’s — William Lindsay Gresham’s novel Nightmare Alley uses “geek” to describe a “wildman” side-show performer.

1970 — Writer Arthur H. Lewis uses “geek” to describe a carnival performer who bites off chunks of chickens, heads and rats.

1994 — The “Geek Squad” (24-hour tech support) is founded by Robert Stephens (and acquired by Best Buy in 2002)

1996 — New Hacker’s Dictionary (Eric S. Raymond) defines “geek out” as “To temporarily enter techno-nerd mode while in a non-hackish context, for example at parties held near computer equipment.”

Dec. 9, 2010 — Urban Dictionary defines geek as “The people you pick on in high school and wind up working for as an adult. The geeky kid now owns a million dollar software company.”

December 15, 2011 — 2.57 million search results appear on Google when you search “Mark Zuckerberg geek.”

“Geek” has come a long way.

Sources that were helpful to this article:

Rob Kelly

Co-Founder and CEO at Ongig
Ongig transforms your job descriptions to attract the best talent faster. Ongig is a content management system that supercharges your job descriptions through video, images, pictures, chat, social sharing, microsite creation and much more. Jobs can be more easily found through Artificial Intelligence-based job search and all pages are Mobile and SEO optimized. Ongig's professional copywriting team will even rewrite your job descriptions. Early clients of Ongig include Yelp, GoDaddy, Verizon, Intel andAutodesk.

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