Should ‘Geek’ Be A Synonym For ‘Intensely Like’?

An Austin Public Library ad campaign uses “geek” as a new verb and as a synonym for “intensely like.”
E. Stephen Burnett | Sep 2, 2014 | 2 comments |

The Austin (Texas) Public Library has debuted an ad campaign that uses “geek” as a verb.


It may be that Syndrome from The Incredibles was actually one of the first to use “geek” at least as a compound verb:


“Oh, man! I’m still geekin’ out about it!”

I still recall when “geek” was a disparaging term; now it’s universally understood as a positive term.

Webster’s dictionary allows for either definition of “geek”:

: a person who is socially awkward and unpopular : a usually intelligent person who does not fit in with other people

: a person who is very interested in and knows a lot about a particular field or activity

Yet from what I’ve seen, most people still use the term geek specifically about someone’s passionate affinity or “fandom” for either computers/science or about fantastical stories.1 I haven’t seen a lot of approval from “true geeks” — the computers/science or fantastical-fiction-fans ones — for those who might say they are “geeks” about gardening, stamp-collection, the United Nations, or 4-H. In this view, the term geek does not so easily equal “hobbyist.”

So as the Austin Public Library proposes, should the term geek also be used as a verb that effectively means “intensely like”?

Should the new verb have a wide range of objects that include pretty much anything people could appreciate?

As in: “I geek jokes” or “I geek healthful eating” or “I geek the United States Monroe Doctrine foreign policy of 1823″?

Could evangelicals put Promise Keepers-style bumper stickers on their cars that say, “I geek my wife”? Could we make up T-shirts that say, “I geek J.C.”?2

  1. Sometimes this includes fandom for fiction such as the BBC series “Sherlock” that technically includes no fantastical elements, such as magic or science fiction, but might as well include these.
  2. This may actually still be a hip happening clever Christian way to refer to Jesus Christ.
E. Stephen Burnett is coauthor of a nonfiction book about parenting and popular culture (title TBA), to release spring 2020 from New Growth Press. He also explores biblical truth and fantastic stories as editor in chief of Lorehaven Magazine and writer at Speculative Faith. He has also written for Christianity Today and Christ and Pop Culture. He and his wife, Lacy, live in the Austin area and serve as members of Southern Hills Baptist Church.

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Julie D

It doesn’t sound right unless one is referring to something speculative. Or at least cult-following. One doesn’t “geek” about The Office or football, but geeking over graphic novels or Agents of Shield is totally cool.


No!  That term belongs to my oppressed subculture of techies and fantasy fans!  I cry cultural appropriation!  *Flailing*

On a more serious note — I don’t mind occasional uses like this, but I would rather not see the term “geek” diluted until it merely means “fan” or “enthusiast” of anything under the sun.  We’d have to come up with a new name for … well, for whatever I am … if that happened.