nerd / geek/ dork

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Vocabulary / Vocabulario Español-Inglés' started by me1, Mar 20, 2006.

  1. me1 Member

    English, U. S.
    "nerd/geek/dork - empollón/pendejo/cretino/necio"

    I know there have been various other forums on this topic, but I am still not clear on the exact meaning of these words in Spanish. Which of these "empollon, pendejo, cretino, necio" mean someone who is smart and socially awkward? are all of these words used frequently? thank you in advance for your help!
  2. KateNicole Senior Member

    Miami, Florida
    English (USA)
    For me, none of the above mean smart and socially akward. In Guadalajara, a lot of kids actually use "ners" (it sounds just like nerd) but I caution you that that is not a correct word and probably isn't understood outside of GDL. I have never come across a convincing (single word) translation of nerd/geek/dork. There are words to say socially akward and there are words to say smart, but there is not any one word that ecompasses both of those traits that I have ever come across........
    So maybe you could just say "estudioso y embarazoso/torpe".........but even embarazoso and torpe are not extremle direct translations of socially akward. Sorry! Maybe other people will be able to help you more, but I too have looked for a way to say nerd many times, and have never found anything that totally convinced me.
  3. grumpus Senior Member

    San Diego, CA
    English U.S.
    Hi guys,
    I agree with Kate. None of them have that meaning.
    pendejo - jerk, stupid
    cretino -- jerk
    necio -- very stubborn, hard headed

    For what you are looking for, I would probably say "torpe" is the most universal, there probably exist many regionalism.

  4. (LUCa) New Member

    empollon: person who studies a lot. It is used by children at school and even at Uni to have fun of people that study too much. It not that bad.

    pendejo: it is a mexican word. Im spanish so i cant tell you exactly the meaning and how they use it.

    cretino and necio: to be honest is the same. both are quite a hard words to use. If you say that to people they can get very mad with you even if you think its true. Take care using them.
  5. tonyray

    tonyray Senior Member

    English, U.S.A.
    Two more options:

    ñoño or matado

    These are mexicanisms. Hope this helps.
  6. Jenny.u

    Jenny.u Senior Member


    Coincido con tonyray!
    Ñoños o lelos. (Although I would only use them to say dork, not geek or nerd).

    We also use the word "nerd", and the equivalent in Argentinian Spanish would be "traga".

    Regards :)
  7. Galianne Senior Member

    The truth is I can't think of translations for any of those words but I'm sure that pendejo and the other three words are not.
    Empollón - never heard of it in my life.
    Pendejo - I don't know anywhere else but that's what we call cowards in Cuba
    Cretino - (like grumpus said) jerk
    Necio - (also like grumpus said) stubborn

    I'm sorry if I haven't been much help but we don't use that kind of words where I come from.
  8. hezman Senior Member

    Spain, spanish
    Aquí en España lo que más se utiliza es 'empollón', pero no es tan despectivo como en inglés. Otra puede ser 'cerebrito', idéntica en significado a 'empollón'.
  9. Jenny.u

    Jenny.u Senior Member

    You can use pendejo:

    - to refer to someone who is younger than you are. (very informal).
    Ej.: -Tengo una idea. Vayamos a bailar a X boliche.
    - No, está lleno de pendejos.
    - to refer to someone whose behaviour is immature.
    Ej: Cada vez que las cosas no son como Juanita quiere, hace un
    escándalo. Es una pendeja.
    same meaning but as an insult. Ej: sos un pendejo de mie***

    - SUPER INFORMAL: If you have a younger friend/brother/sister/cousin,
    you could call him/her pendeja in an affectionate way (ONLY if
    you're friends).
    Ej.: -¿Cómo andas, pendeja, tanto tiempo!!

    - This is very informal, and certainly not tasteful, but you may also hear los pendejos as pubic hair.

    I hope you have a better idea of what pendejo means.

  10. alfajari Senior Member

    Spain Spanish
    Si se utiliza en sentido amplio, en contexto del colegio, por ejemplo, se puede traducir como pringado, borde, matado, etc. Pero cuando se refiere a alguien brillante tecnológicamente pero socialmente inepto, creo que habría que ser más específico. En lo definen como: “iluminado cibernético socialmente inepto”, bastante gracioso y exacto, en mi opinión, ya que a menudo se refiere a los informáticos. A mí sólo se me ocurre "genio inadaptado o marciano". ¿Alguient tiene alguna propuesta en esta dirección?
  11. devlinpj Member

    English Ireland
    Hello there.

    Studying in Spain at the moment and I've come across the word 'friki' a lot. From what I can see, it seems to refer to film nerds, sci-fi freaks and the kind of character epitomised by the 'comic book guy' in the Simpsons. Its a self-imposed title and people who choose the friki way of life seem proud of the fact. Only mildly derrogatory as far as I can see. I don't know how much it relates to 'techno-geeks' and would welcome any corrections or suggestions.

    Hope that helps.
  12. Tape2Tape

    Tape2Tape Senior Member

    Madrid, Spain
    British English, Spain
    Empollón is what in Britain we would call a swot - a boring peron who seems to live to study (for tests and the like).

    A (possibly sexist) variant is to call someone - usually a boy - a "girly swot".

    I understand this term is not used in the US!

    Oh, and I'd echo devlinpj's comments on "friki" - spot on!
  13. (LUCa) New Member


    Exactamente no sé cuál es el origen de la palabra pero su uso como ya has comprobado es muy cotidiano.

    Habitualmente friki se ha estado utilizando para denominar a aquellas personas que siempre estaban entre ordenadores y su pasión era esa. Ahora el uso se está extendiendo muchísimo y ya no solo tiene que ver con ordenadores sino aficiones un tanto excéntricas o aficiones algo alternativas.


    1-. Juan se tira horas delante del ordandor. No sale para nada está siempre liado buscando programas nuevos.
    2-. Es que Juan es un friki.

    1-. ¿Qué es de Isabel?
    2-. Se ha ido a Madrid para la competición de ese juego. Es una friki de los juegos de rol.

    Podrían haber millones de ejemplos. Tal vez pueda venir del comic book guy al que te refieres u otros orígenes. Pero actualmente el término es muchísimo más amplio.
  14. Sicofonte Member

    Spain, spanish

    In the schools and colleges of my city we used to say "cabeza cuadrá" (cuadrada) for the term "intelligent and succesful without studying", and "empollón" for those that study alot, both disparaging and not directly related to the social skills.

    The difference between those socially skilled (accepted by the most) and those awkwards (rejected by the most) was that the formers weren't insulted.

  15. aguacate Senior Member

    Seattle, WA
    English, USA
    Nerds don't exist among the spanish speaking population. Of course there's no translation for it.
  16. typicalst

    typicalst Member


    If you go to any school, even among the Spanish speaking population, and ask for a nerd, they'll give you a pretty decent list. It's all a matter of social rejection, really. But there ARE nerds, and I would translate that - at least in México - like "ñoño".
  17. robetova Senior Member

    Aurora, IL, Near Chicago
    US Native Spanish, (Mexico) Fluent English

    Ñoño is often referred to a fat person. Popularized by the old comedy show "El Chavo del ocho". Una palabra que esta entrando en México es "Luser" tomado del ingles Looser. Para describir a los giks y ners, giks se empieza a utilizar.
  18. moyarangel Senior Member

    petardo, lerdo, pardillo...
  19. Homero Senior Member

    Mt Juliet, TN
    Aguacate may be onto something, although I sense (incorrectly, I hope) a bit of ethnocentrism in the tone of the comment. Youths in Hispanic cultures, as far as I can tell, do not look upon their studious colleagues with the degree of contempt with which studious kids are regarded here in the US. In fact, as a former substitute schoolteacher, even I was shocked by the extent to which kids were seen as "cool" (a term that conveys the opposite of the social skills parents want their children to have) when they demonstrated that they were rebellious, anti-intellectual, and hostile to anything taught by their seniors.

    For what it is worth, I am sensing that the pendulum may be starting to swing back among the younger generation of today.

    In short, use the Anglicisms, and be prepared to explain a lot about youth culture in the US.
  20. Mitcho999

    Mitcho999 Member

    Austin, Texas
    English-United States
    Mi amigo dominicano siempre me llamaba "bolsa", "bolsanco", y posiblemente otras variaciones igual que "nerdo".
  21. There are several meanings for all these adjectives:
    nerd = idiot/stupid/fool.
    geek = inept/dopey/incompetent/unable/incapable/unsuitable/useless.
    inepto/bobo, atontado or empanado/incompetente/incapaz/poco adecuado/inútil.
    empollón = swot/dorky (Dorks are shy and awkward but smart and bookish.
    Dork = inteligente pero socialmente extraño. So dorky is someone that
    is odd & awkward in social situation but intelligent. As far as I know
    dorky means nerd/geek as well).
    pendejo = asshole/stupid/nerd/dumbass
    cretino = stupid/jerk/cretinous
    necio = stupid/fool/cretinous

    Correct me if I'm wrong with this all.

    Btw! friki = freak, but as Luca said, that term has taken more meanings such as addicted to sth or obsessed with sth.
    E.g: someone who loves the Twilight saga (like me) = I'm a friki!
    A guy who loves fish tanks and s/he's always buying things for her/his fish. S/he's a friki too.
    Friki doesn't only envolve things that have something to do with the world of computers or computer games.

    I hope it helps!
  22. Cpt. Sqweky Member

    U.S.A., English
    You are wrong. Sorry to use thread necromancy, but there are a few things here that I felt that I couldn't let stand.

    As a self-identified nerd, I have actually done quite a lot of questioning among friends in real life and strangers on the internet who also self identify as either nerds or geeks. First off, there is little agreement as to whether Geek or Nerd is seen as derogatory. Generally, both are seen as intelligent, but there is the matter of social awkwardness, and self-identified geeks tend towards saying that nerds are socially awkward while geeks aren't, and nerds say that geeks are socially awkward while nerds aren't. About the only thing agreed on is that "dork" is derogatory because it connotes both social awkwardness and a lack of intelligence. So you pretty much got your definitions completely backwards up there.

    As for Friki, well, you are correct in that it's not just to mean nerds and the like, but while the etymology of "friki" comes from the English "freak" I would not say that it translates as freak, since the implication in Spanish of friki deals with obsession while the implication in English of freak deals with abnormality.
  23. netupyr New Member

    "Nerd" is used as "empollón", someone so concerned about studies that doesn't have a social life or relationships at all. As it is referred to people who don't relationate themselves with others and who lack social skills, it is used in a negative sense.

    Someone said that "freaky" (or "friki" in spanish) is the same than "geek", but it is not exactly like that: a freaky is, in general terms, someone who likes very much a/some/many kinds of hobbies, it is usually used to name people who like comics, Sci-Fi, Epic Fantasy, Medieval Fantasy, History, etc... inside freakies you can find some subdivisions: "otakus" (freakys who like especifically japanese manga, cosplays and anime) or "geeks" (freakis who like electronics, pcs, technologies and that kind of stuff). For freakies, the word is used in a positive sense, and they're proud of calling themselves "freakies", as members of an specific social group, where they are socially very active. For non-freakies, the word doesn't have a negative nor positive sense, as it is just a descriptive word for refering the people who like that kind of hobbies.

    On the other hand, from some time ago, a new meaning for "friki" has appeared. It is referred to "weird" people, in a very negative sense. People out of society, without social skills, and usually not very clever nor culturated, not related in any sense to the other meaning for Freaky I explained before. This goes very similar to the meaning for "dork" or the original meaning of the english word "freak".
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2014

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