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I'm looking for a good translation for "nerd" as it is used in modern English, i.e. a person obsessively interested in certain topics but possibly lacking socials skills. For example computer nerds, language nerds, history nerds or comic book nerds.

The translations I can find relate mostly to the old usage of being a weakling and worse: malfortulo and malgraciulo. The closest may be kabinetulo as it stresses the intellectual side, but it still seems not like a good enough fit.

So, what word to use for today's nerds?

  • I've seen "kabinetulo," but that was a rare occurrence, so I don't think anyone uses it. – Clayton Ramsey Nov 27 '16 at 6:45
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I have seen both giko and nerdo. They are not to be found in ReVo or PIV, and it is very possible that they are spontaneous anglicisms. On the other hand, mojosa isn't in PIV either.

I believe people today often ignore the social disability when using nerd. Somebody may proudly say "I really am a Star Wars-nerd, ask me anything". In this sense, spertulo could work, but it is more like the English expert. Fanatikulo, which Tony proposed, carries the nuance of a crazy obsession, and is a good fit in my opinion. The English fanatic sounds very dark and serious, and is often used to belittle people. The Esperanto word is not as negative, and is used jokingly too.

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Nerdo and giko are widespread internationalisms, and likely to be understood by most readers. However, they obviously reproduce the ambiguity you have described: malŝikuleto versus obseduleto. If you want a more self-explanatory word, consider:

  • hobiulo, obsedato, detalulo (hobbyist, obsessed person, detail guy)

  • profesoreto, sinerudito (little professor, self-tutored person)

A kabineto is a study-room or a ministerial cabinet, so a kabinetulo is a denizen of such a room, or a member of a cabinet. In the first sense it generally is taken to mean a theoretician or a person who owes too much of their expertise to books.

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Often it is hard to translate concepts from one language to another.

I don't think kabinetulo is exactly what you are looking for. http://www.reta-vortaro.de/revo/art/kabine.html#kabine.0ulo

By your definition a nerd has two attributes:

  • obsessively interested in certain topics
  • lacking socials skills

How about mal-social-spertulo or mal-social-genio.

Although it doesn't convey the exact meaning, if it was me, I would probably just say komputila fanatikulo or lingva fanatikulo since fanatics are usually assumed to have poor social skills.

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