Use of the Word 'Nerd' in the May 1962 Wycombiensian

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John Saunders
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Use of the Word 'Nerd' in the May 1962 Wycombiensian

Postby John Saunders » Sun Jul 26, 2015 1:30 am

Whilst looking through the May 1962 Wycombiensian, I was surprised to come across the following passage:

Wycombiensian, May 1962, page 283 wrote:Later in the term Mr. Alan Snyder, the Education Officer at the U.S.A.A.F. base, gave “Some American Opinions”, wittily describing the present-day social cleavage between the Gons and Nerds (the readers of the Guardian, Observer and New Statesman, and on the other hand those of the News of the World, the Express and the Readers’ Digest), and emphasising the importance of the moral aspect in education.

I had fondly imagined that the word 'nerd' dated back to the 1970s or even 1980s, but etymologists seem to think it goes back as far as 1950 in the USA. In the UK it is much newer. Perhaps Alan Snyder was the first to use it here.

Anyway, for what it's worth, here is the word 'nerd', in the High Wycombe Royal Grammar School magazine, in 1962. Albeit used in an entirely different meaning in a British context. Still, it might amuse an etymologist somewhere. The article was a report by Colin Swain on the doings of the school's Twentieth Century Opinion Society.
John Saunders
RGS 1963-70 (personal website