OED Antedates "Nerd"

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Sun Sep 14 03:06:15 UTC 2003

A noteworthy item in the latest batch of OED revisions is the following
citation now listed as the first use for the word "nerd":

a1950 A. KAZIN Jrnl. in Lifetime Burning in Every Moment (1996) II. 92, I
guess to her I am a nerd, a bookish noodle, not genially at the heart of

Since Dr. Seuss' naming of one of his fictional animals as a "nerd"
occurred in a 1950 book, the Kazin usage most likely kills the theory that
the slang word derives from Dr. Seuss.

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Collections and     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
  Access and Lecturer in Legal Research     Yale University Press,
Yale Law School                             forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at yale.edu               http://quotationdictionary.com

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