The Next 'Geek?' We Asked. You Answered.

In what seems like an unlikely turn of events, "geek" has suddenly gone chic. Last week, Science Friday wondered if there should be a new word for geek, one without a hip connotation, and asked listeners to weigh in. After combing through the submissions, we reveal the top terms.

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IRA FLATOW, host:

You're listening to SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR. I'm Ira Flatow. We're back here with Flora Lichtman. Hi, Flora.

FLORA LICHTMAN: Hi, Ira.

FLATOW: We're back because we had a survey last week, right? Refresh us.

LICHTMAN: That's right. Last week we had a discussion and thought, it came up that maybe the word geek has been, I don't know, co-opted, that's it's gotten a little hip for those of us true geeks who suffered a lot of social anxiety and feel like we really earned the term.

FLATOW: Geek is too chic.

LICHTMAN: It's too chic. So we asked listeners to weigh in on a new word for geek.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm.

LICHTMAN: And we got some really very clever replies, I thought.

FLATOW: Let's go through them.

LICHTMAN: Okay. So the first...

FLATOW: Here's our top five.

LICHTMAN: All right. The top five. And this one, you know, I want to start by saying that many people were kind of disgusted at this and said, you know, we should hold on to the word geek. Let's keep geek. This is our word. We should fight for it. I don't want to go down without a fight.

FLATOW: Right. Right. Keep geek.

LICHTMAN: Keep geek.

FLATOW: That was reaction number one.

LICHTMAN: Reaction number one. And then rebrand - you know, people who are sort of a bandwagon...

FLATOW: Mm-hmm.

LICHTMAN: ...jumpers on, as maybe geekgoppers or geeksters, you know, that we should keep the real geek word.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm.

LICHTMAN: All right. Number two. How about snerd?

FLATOW: A snerd.

LICHTMAN: A snerd, and that's for sexy nerd and slow (unintelligible). While watching "Morning Joe" I saw Peter Orszag, who if you don't know, he's the White House budget director. Little news trivia, he just resigned, or said he was resigning this week.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm.

LICHTMAN: So the listener writes the ultimate biz geek and came up with the name snerd, sexy nerd, because Peter Orszag...

FLATOW: Well, let's try it out. That's very snerdy. I'm a snerd. How did that sound to you?

LICHTMAN: I kind of like it. It's a little - even though it sounds a little nasally, I don't know. But that's kind of true to geek, right?

FLATOW: Number three.

LICTHMAN: Okay. Number three, we actually have a hint for number three.

(Soundbite of TV series, "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show")

Unidentified Man (Actor): (as Mr. Peabody) My name, sir, is Peabody. And that's my boy Sherman over by the wayback machine.

Unidentified Person (Actor): (as Peabody) The wayback's all warmed up, Mr. Peabody.

FLATOW: Oh, a Peabody. He's a - she's a Peabody.

LICHTMAN: Yeah. That was from "Rocky and Bullwinkle," if it doesn't ring a bell.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LICHTMAN: And the person who suggested this also mentioned that, you know, the good thing with Peabody is that, if taken apart, it might describe the non-jock bodies of most geeks.

FLATOW: A Pea-body.

LICHTMAN: A Pea-bod.

FLATOW: Ooh.

LICHTMAN: It's a little double entendre. Pretty good.

FLATOW: Double, wow. It's my favorite so far, I think.

LICHTMAN: Pretty good. The next one was a bengee(ph), adjective bengeek, with a K. And this, the origin of this, Bill Marsden(ph) writes, is after Benjamin Franklin, a layman interested in taking a scientific approach to life. So you might say, that balloon camera thing, that is pretty bengeek.

FLATOW: I like that. But you know, and it's also it's also because Benjamin Franklin was such an eclectic guy, interested in all kinds of things.

LICHTMAN: Yeah. And...

FLATOW: He was - yeah.

LICHTMAN: And it's pretty - it's kind of a lovable term.

FLATOW: It's a lovable term, and actually reflects that geeks today may have multi-dimensions to them, like Franklin had.

LICHTMAN: Right. And maybe this is the evolution that we're ready for a new word for geek, because, you know, no longer are geeks maligned. We need something a little bit...

FLATOW: A bengee. That's very bengeek.

LICHTMAN: I like it. I kind of like bengee.

FLATOW: That's good.

LICHTMAN: So that's seems pretty good. But I think, you know, we - the last one on our list, speaking of lovable terms, and I think this is suggested lovably, it's Flatow.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: That's so - now, I'm taking myself out of the running now.

LICHTMAN: No way. It's the ultimate compliment, and multiple people suggested it, Ira.

FLATOW: All right.

LICHTMAN: So we're definitely leaving it...

FLATOW: All right. We're going to leave those five in. Go quickly through the five. We'll have you vote again on our website. It's sciencefriday.com. They are...

LICHTMAN: Okay. Number one, keep the geek. Number two, snerd, for sexy nerd. Number three, Peabody, as a reference to "Rocky and Bullwinkle"s nerdy guy. Number three, bengee, an homage to Benjamin Franklin. And that was four, I guess.

FLATOW: Yes.

LICHTMAN: And number five, Flatow. And we all know who that's about.

FLATOW: Yeah. All right. Flora Lichtman, our digital editor, thank you. If you want to vote, go to our website at sciencefriday.com. Vote for whichever of those five - yeah, I think four are good choices - you'd like to vote for and we'll tally up the results and see what we can come up with next week. That's about all the time we have for today. You can surf over there at the website, also see Flora's video pick of the week, which is up there on the lefthand corner. And you can podcast and put us - our iPhone app into your pocket, take it along with us. And have a great weekend. We'll see you next week.

I'm Ira Flatow in New York.

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