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Geek dubbed 'word of 2013' by Collins dictionary

December 16, 2013 15:15 IST

The word geek, once used as a slur to describe a person with unfashionable interests or a social misfit, has now been declared the 'word of the year' by the Collins online dictionary.

The dictionary has also changed the definition of geek to "a person who is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about a specific subject." Collins has already added 'geekery', 'geek chic' and 'geekdom' to the dictionary's fold.

While 'geek chic' refers to a fashion style believed to be characteristic of geeks, 'geekery' means preoccupation with, or great knowledge about, a subject, according to the the dictionary.

"For those of us born into a pre-internet world 'geek' meant 'a boring and unattractive social misfit - who tends to smell slightly gamey at close quarters," the dictionary said on its website.

"But times change, even if we don't change with them and what Collins first included as a secondary definition in 2003 -- 'A person who is preoccupied with or very knowledgeable about computing' - has long since overtaken the original.

"Now the meaning has changed again and the new definition will read 'a person who is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about a specific subject'," Collins said on its website.

Last month, Oxford Dictionaries named selfie - "a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website" -- as the word of the year.

Geek has seen an interesting transformation in meaning over the last couple of decades.

According to Oxford dictionaries, the word used to be a cruel and critical label attached to clever, but socially awkward, people -- such as computer or science geeks.

However, in the 1990s, the computer industry helped many geeks to achieve great success, and the wider perception of geeks began to shift.

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