| #3 (permalink) Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:08 am Meaning of "nerd and wimp"
Both words have interesting etymologies of American origin:
Wimp: 1920 (but not attested again until 1960), perhaps a clipped form of whimper (cf whimp, 1549), perhaps influenced by J. Wellington Wimpy, comparatively unaggressive character in "Popeye" comics. Wimpy (adj.) is from 1967.
The word nerd, undefined but illustrated, first appeared in 1950 in Dr. Seuss's If I Ran the Zoo: "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!" (The nerd is a small humanoid creature looking comically angry, like a thin, cross Chester A. Arthur.) Nerd next appears, with a gloss, in the February 10, 1957, issue of the Glasgow, Scotland, Sunday Mail in a regular column entitled "ABC for SQUARES": "Nerd—a square, any explanation needed?" Many of the terms defined in this "ABC" are unmistakable Americanisms, such as hep, ick, and jazzy, as is the gloss "square," the current meaning of nerd. The third appearance of nerd in print is back in the United States in 1970 in Current Slang: "Nurd [sic], someone with objectionable habits or traits.... An uninteresting person, a 'dud.'" Authorities disagree on whether the two nerds—Dr. Seuss's small creature and the teenage slang term in the Glasgow Sunday Mail—are the same word. Some experts claim there is no semantic connection and the identity of the words is fortuitous. Others maintain that Dr. Seuss is the true originator of nerd and that the word nerd ("comically unpleasant creature") was picked up by the five- and six-year-olds of 1950 and passed on to their older siblings, who by 1957, as teenagers, had restricted and specified the meaning to the most comically obnoxious creature of their own class, a "square."
Native English teacher at Mister Micawber's
Joined: 17 Jul 2005