What Is A Dork?

2 May

letter Last week when I brought Episode V to do science in his sister’s 1st grade classroom, we had a little time to ourselves afterward to unwind. We were goofing around together on the school playground to get some wiggles out before we went back home to UnDorkMommy and Episode VI. There was another school parent there who I recognized but didn’t know. We smiled at each other politely as she pushed her youngling on the swing and my boy and I horsed around on the jungle-gym.

As Episode V and I were playing he did something silly in front of the woman’s youngling and I playfully said to my son “You big DORK!”


Now you must understand, in our family the word “dork” is a love-word. After almost 2 years of blogging, “dork” has worked its way into our family lexicon. Just last night as I was snuggling Episode IV down to sleep, she said to me “Goodnight DorkDaddy.” The kids know that “dork” is not a word that we use outside of the family – the word has special meaning inside the family that most people wouldn’t understand. But there on the playground, in front of that mother and her child, in the enthusiasm of the moment I slipped.

It was like the needle scratched off the record. The mother made no attempt to hide her look of mild horror and disapproval. It was as if the swing came screeching to a halt mid-swing and even the mother’s baby looked at me reproachfully. “How dare you call your son such a thing?” said the youngling’s eyes. I expected the mother to pack up her things and get her child away from the uncultured riff-raff as quickly as possible.

OK, I admit I may be taking a little poetic license for drama’s sake. But the mother did notice, and she did do a terrible job of hiding her disapproving look. For a beat my son and I froze, looked at each other with wide eyes, barely holding back guilty smiles, knowing that we had both been caught using a dirty word (even if I was the one who used it).

We moved on with our play because, you know… meh.


So this morning I did a quick google search to satisfy my own curiosity. What does the word “dork” mean? Where does the word come from? What is the etymology of the word?

A little research yielded some interesting results. The word seems to have been around since the 60’s, and it seems to have two primary definitions:

dork noun 1 the penis US, 1961. 2 a socially inept, unfashionable, harmless person US, 1964.

Great. I named my blog after a penis. Who knew?


What’s more, it seems there is an urban myth to the origins of the word. All scholarly evidence suggests that the word “dork” is strictly defined as outlined above, and has never had another legitimate meaning. But both wordorigins.org and urbanlegends.com went conspicuously out of their way to point out that contrary to popular belief, the word “dork” does NOT refer to the definitive portion of a male whale’s anatomy. A little more searching confirmed the assertion that the association between the word “dork” and a whale penis is a real thing. It’s out there, whether it’s academically accurate or not.

<<editor’s note: at this point I considered adding a picture of a whale penis… and after a google image search decided against it>>

“Contrary to popular belief.”

Popular belief.

Is it possible the mom on the playground thought I called my 4-year-old son a whale penis? Unlikely. But once Episode V is old enough to appreciate that according to “popular belief” the word “dork” refers to a whale penis, it may be a lot tougher to stifle our smiles the next time I slip and call him “dork” in public.

-Whale Penis Dad

7 Responses to “What Is A Dork?”

  1. Lillypetals May 2, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    Yep, I just did a Google search for whale penis. I never would have thought that was where my day was heading…

  2. nerdinthebrain May 2, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    Wow. You just can’t unsee that kind of thing. When will I learn to stop galavanting off to Google for these things?!? I will never hear the word dork in quite the same way again.

    • dorkdad May 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

      After I poured bleach in my eyes, the next thought to me was Darth Vader’s voice saying “Impressive. Most impressive.”

  3. larva225 May 3, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    I’m resisting the urge to Google whale penis. I just don’t want to know.
    It does remind me of a dork-y tale, though. True story. Once a research vessel was out mid-ocean taking core sediment samples. As they were retracting the core sample, it seems they found and sampled a dead whale. Gross.
    I don’t know why I felt the need to type that.

    • dorkdad May 3, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

      Go do your google search. That’ll wipe out the story from your short term memory.

  4. Anonymous January 3, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    In 1962, the definition of a dork was someone who farted in the bathtub and popped the bubbles

    • dorkdad January 3, 2014 at 9:51 am #

      Well then both my sons are a credit to tradition.

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