The orginal geek bit the heads off chickens

My wife asked me what the word ‘geek’
meant.  I wanted to be sure I gave the proper definition, so
looked it up.  One thing I didn’t know was the origin of the word
I’m not sure how credible to following is, but thought I’d share with you this entry at

“Originally, a `geek’ was a carnival performer who bit the heads off
chickens. Before about 1990 usage of this term was rather negative.
Earlier versions of this lexicon defined a `computer geek’ as one who
eats (computer) bugs for a living – an asocial, malodorous, pasty-faced
monomaniac with all the personality of a cheese grater.”

Comments (6)

  1. X.Static says:

    wikipedia has an exhaustive definition as well:

  2. MSDN Archive says:

    thanks Jason,

    I see this Wikipedia entry confirms the fowl play:

    "A person who swallows live animals, bugs, etc., as a form of entertainment at fairs etc. This often included biting the heads off of chickens."

  3. X.Static says:

    I wonder if that makes Ozzy Osbourne a bigger geek than myself?

  4. MSDN Archive says:

    Depends….how many chickens have you chewed the head off?

  5. i knew about the lightbulb eating variety before i knew about the computer hacker flavour.

    this book is crazy – Geek Love. about a family of geeks – the parents ensure geek/freak/ status by feeding the mother all kinds of weird crap like mercury and so on during pregnancy. very odd.