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:

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