(plural nerkles)


(Brit) enPR: nûkl, IPA: /nɜːkl/
(US) enPR: nûrkl, IPA: /nɝːkl/

Definition (Noun)

1. A person who is intellectual but generally introverted but who lacks mathematical ability or dislikes mathematics (informal, sometimes derogatory).

A lot of my friends like Dungeons and Dragons but I’m too much of a nerkle to get the hang of all the numbers.

2. One who has an intense, obsessive interest in something stereotypically nerdy (cf. nerd) but is handicapped by their inability or unwillingness to engage in mathematics (slang, always derogatory).

We don’t want Steven on our Math Bowl team because he’s a nerkle and will just drag us down.

3. An unattractive, socially awkward, annoying, undesirable, and/or boring, person who is also unintelligent or unskilled (slang, always derogatory).

Cecelia is such a nerkle, she is really weird and can’t even help me with my calculus homework.

Definition (Verb)

1. An intelligent person failing at a task others thought them capable of (informal, sometimes derogatory).

Give me those calculations, you’re just nerkling it up!

2. Engaging in stereotypically nerdy activity (cf. nerd) which does not involve heavy use of mathematics (informal, sometimes derogatory).

We’re going to get together and nerkle by writing some stories and reading comic books.

3. The act of performing mathematical calculations in a stereotypically nerdy context (cf. nerd) on behalf of one incapable or unwilling of performing them (informal, sometimes derogatory).

I like playing Dungeons and Dragons on the computer because it will nerkle the math for me.


Unknown. Attested since 1951 as US student slang. The word, capitalized, appeared in 1950 in Dr. Seuss’s If I Ran the Zoo as the name of an imaginary animal: “And then, just to show them, I’ll sail to Katroo / And bring back an It-Kutch, a Preep and a Proo, / A Nerkle, a Nerd and a Seersucker too!” Various unlikely folk etymologies and less likely backronymic speculations also exist. Popularized by frequent use in the American situational comedy television show Uneasy Weeks (1967-1978); the 1940s setting of that program may have contributed to a widespread perception of the word being in common use before 1950 which is unattested in the literature.


(socially unaccepted person, all are slang, informal, and sometimes derogatory): doofus, dork, dweeb, geek, goober, loser, twerp
(poor mathematics skills): innumerate, innumeracy

This entry incorporates some text from Wiktionary and as such this entry is licensed under the same Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported GNU Free Documentation licenses. This license and attribution does not in any way suggest that the original authors and/or editors endorse this entry or its use of the work.

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“So you gave her your personal passwords, your credit card number, and your Social Security number even though you’d only just met?” said Officer Carruthers incredulously.

“You don’t understand!” wailed the quivering lump of pale manflesh in the precinct office. “She had dyed hair…she was so vibrant and quirky, I just…I just felt a connection!”

“Even so, Mr. Daniels, surely you must have had some idea that things weren’t on the level,” added Chief Strong, trying and failing to sound sympathetic rather than annoyed.

“She said she wanted to grind for loot for me in Dungeons of Krull,” blubbered Daniels, “and she wanted to register so we could play together!”

“Gentlemen I believe I may be of some assistance here.” At the sound of that familiar voice, both Carruthers and Strong recoiled. “Not again.”

“Yes, gentlemen, it is I: Sherwood Greg. Collector, scholar, dungeon master, level 25 elven sorceress, head of the Council of Twelve, and overall coordinator for Nerdicon.” The rotund form of Sherman Gregward, as he was known to the state, waddled into the office. If nothing else, he made Daniels look svelte by comparison.

“What is it, Gregward?” snapped Chief Strong. “Can’t you see that we’re in the middle of something? How’d you get in here, anyway?”

“I heard the cry of a kindred spirit in need, echoing throughout the blogisphere,” said Sherwood Greg grandly. “And it just so happens that your man at the front desk is a fan of Glowworm, and now has a complimentary ticket to the cast and crew panel at this year’s Nerdicon.”

The officers exchanged looks of intense annoyance. “Well, we’ve got a fairly straightforward case of identity theft here, Gregward,” said Officer Carruthers. “So I don’t know what help you can be.”

“On the contrary, our mutual friend Mr. Daniels–AKA Armageddetron82–has fallen victim to a recent trend that I like to call the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl Scam.’ Namely, a savvy con artist aping the two-dimensional wish-fulfillment female characters so prevalent in entertainment for the purposes of cutting-edge fraud and social engineering.”

“I think we had figured that part out,” said Chief Strong. “What can you do that we can’t?”

“I can offer myself up as bait, of course,” said Sherwood Greg. “For I assure you that seeing the con artist who has been ravaging the local nerdgeek and geeknerd community brought to justice is foremost on my mind, and I am a far more tempting target than either of you could ever hope to be.”

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Officer Caruthers rubbed the back of his head. “Chief Strong has brought in an…outside advisor.”

Detective Gorrister sighed. “Strong and his outside advisors. This isn’t another radio psychic, is it?”

The apartment door nudged open, and a large man waddled in. He was dressed in Lincoln Green, and his greasy dark hair was thin in front and long and flowing in back, as if it were being grown out for a comb-over. “Hardly,” the man said. “Like any expert, I am here because of my overwhelming knowledge of and appreciation for the applicable lore.”

“Sherman Gregward,” Caruthers said. “He helped us out with that hostage situation a few months ago.”

“Please address me by my true name, Sherwood Greg, if you please,” intoned the man. “Collector, scholar, dungeon master, level 24 elven sorceress, head of the Council of Twelve, and overall coordinator for Nerdicon. Pre-registration for Nerdicon ’13 begins next week, and I’ve got plenty of plus ones if anyone’s interested.”

Gorrister gripped the bridge of her nose. “And what, exactly, do you bring to the table, Maid Marion?”

Sherwood Greg walked to a nearby end table and slapped down a thick deck of worn cards. “That’s what I bring to the table,” he said.

“A deck of Magick: Battle of Warlocks cards?” Corruthers snapped. “Tell me you’re joking.”

“You tell me, detective.” The corpulent collector cut the deck and revealed a card called The Multiphase Fleshwalker. It depicted a beautiful woman with one leg and one arm denuded of flesh, drawn in a quasi-realistic fantasy style, with the following text beneath it:

Strength 6/Defense 6
Costs three cornfields to activate
Restore one life to casting warlock
Protect casting warlock from life damage for one turn when rotated
Once rotated, may not be used unless caster rotates an additional six cornfields
“They restore one’s flesh at the cost of their own, and are always looking for a lifeforce to drain to restore the beauty they so desperately crave but never attain.”

“Holy shit,” said Caruthers. “It’s just like the murder.”

Sherwood Greg nodded toward the mutilated corpse behind the two officers. “Looks like someone is desperate to restore their life points,” he said.

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The precinct doors flew open, and a squat figure entered flanked by uniformed officers (well, perhaps they were more following than flanking, given how much of the corridor the man took up). An officer offered him a chair opposite the negotiation team; the man shook his head and pointed to a nearby loveseat, the one that had been in the office ever since Josie in dispatch had been pregnant. When it was wrestled into place, the man settled into it like an oversized armchair, leaving little room on either side.

“Sherman Gregward?” Chief Strong said.

The man tossed his head, with its dark hair thinning in front and gathered into a ponytail in back. “That’s me. Sherwood Greg, if you prefer. Collector, scholar, dungeon master, level 24 elven sorceress, and head of the Council of Twelve and overall coordinator for Nerdicon.”

“Mr. Gregward,”Strong said. “I assume you’ve heard about the events at SciCon earlier today?”

“SciCon’s a competitor, but a respected one,” Sherwood Greg replied. “I’ve deigned to attend on occasion, when campaigning is slow. I hear they went and got their guest of honor kidnapped.”

“Nestor Pressman, who played…” Strong looked at the sheet in front of him. “Captain Why of Timeship Omega in the 1983-87 tv series TimeTrek Wars.”

“Don’t patronize me, captain,” Greg sniffed.” I know Pressman. He was at Nerdicon three times before he went to the other side.”

“We’re had no luck in finding the kidnapper or kidnappers, and the demands that were left for us are, well, incomprehensible.”

“So you brought in an expert. Smart.” Greg waved an outstretched hand; Strong gave him a copy of the dossier with the cut and paste ransom note:

BR1|\|9 Ph1\/3 |-|U|\|DR3D 7|-|0U54|\|D d0LL4R5 (45|-| 4 (0/\/\PL373 1985 5(1-(0|\| (0/\/\/\/\3/\/R471\/3 (0LL3(710|\| 7|-|3 L057 3P150D3 0Ph 71/\/\3-7R3|<-\/\/4R5 4|\|D 4LB3R7 /\/\3LL5731|\|'5 5(R33|\| 7357 Ph0R (R'/P7 r0BB3R 70 7|-|3 (17'/ bU5 73R/\/\1|\|4L b'/ 319|-|7 70/\/RR0\/\/ 0R pR355/\/\4|\| 15 0U7 0Ph 71/\/\3

“It’s gibberish,” Strong said.

Greg glanced at it. “Bring $500,000 cash, a complete 1985 SciCon commemorative collection, the lost episode of TimeTrek Wars and Albert Mellstein’s screen test for Crypt Robber to the city bus terminal by eight tomorrow or Pressman is out of time,” he read.

“H-how did you…?”

“Child’s play. I’ve decoded leetspeak twice as hardcore before second breakfast. And before you ask: the 1985 SciCon commemorative collection is a legendarily rare swag bag from the first convention of which only 5 are known to exist, the lost episode of TimeTrek Wars was filmed but never edited just before the series was canceled in 1987 with only a few black and white stills known to survive, and after he won an Oscar Albert Mellstein was so anxious to cover up that he tried out for the lead of Crypt Robber that he bought and publically burned the negative.”

Strong’s jaw hung agape.

“See? You picked the right man for the job. Also, that last bit? Captain Why’s catchphrase was ‘we’re never out of time’ in the show. You’re welcome.”

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