We know the terms. We've all heard them. But what do they mean?
Lacking a solidly established taxonomy, my friends and I have developed a Nerd Taxonomy. Not a hierarchy; one sort is not "higher" or "better" than the other, necessarily. We felt it useful to assess particular values to the words, as there are many kinds of nerdery.
Our effort began with a quote from Roger Ebert: "A geek is a kid who's got everything going for him, but he hasn't grown into his personality yet. A nerd is a nerd until the day he dies." We liked this. It makes an important distinction. Both geekery and nerditude denote social maladroitness. However, some outgrow or escape this condition, while others...don't.
From there, we pushed ahead and forged The Official Nerd Taxonomy:*
GEEK: A socially-maladjusted person who will probably someday grow out of it. The cutoff age for "geek" is not firm, but if the person hasn't grown out of it by twenty-two or so, they may never.
NERD: A socially-maladjusted person who will never adapt to conventional social mores. Often defiant about it, particularly as the nerd ages.
DORK: Generally, a person obsessed with non-culturally approved things. The term should never be used on its own, but rather in concert with the person's object of obsession (e.g. "comic book dork," "Star Trek dork.") Should the person be obsessive about something deemed culturally acceptable, such as baseball or film, the label of "dork" can only be applied if the obsession is strong enough to interfere with the person's social interactions. ("He won't shut up about the Philadelphia Flyers! Jeebus, it's just friggin' hockey!")**
DWEEB: A socially inept person who attaches him or herself to large crowds and/or socially successful people in an effort to "join the group." The dweeb tries hard for acceptance but seldom succeeds. Frequently eager to please and the consummate "joiner."
SPAZ: A person whose inability to contain sudden outbursts of emotion mars their efforts at socialization. ("Yeah, I remember Ohio. HOLY CRAP, IT WAS AMAZING!! Oh, sorry...did I startle you?")
As an example, yours truly is certainly a comic book dork who fancies himself a recovering geek. (Perhaps a tragic delusion, I know. I accept the possibility that my nerdosity may be greater than even I think, and that if you cut me, I might bleed tiny images of Eddie Deezen.)
Now that these terms have been clarified, let us go forth and combat ignorance! Mmmheyhey, with the learning and the VERBiage and the hoiven-glaven!
*It's official to me, goddammit.
**Hockey sucks. Accept this fact and move on.