Wikipedia gives a literal description for Neckbeard:

Neckbeard (a.k.a. Neard) — similar to the Chinstrap, but with the chin and jawline shaven, leaving hair to grow only on the neck. While never as popular as other beard styles, a few noted historical figures have worn this type of beard, such as Nero, Horace Greeley, William Empson, Moses Mendelssohn and Richard Wagner.

but I've seen it used in non-literal contexts. For example, in the documentation for a programming related tool, it talks about Neckbeard configuration:

Neckbeard Configuration

Skip this section unless you must know what every line in your shell profile is doing.

Onelook.com only gave a link to Wikipedia's literal description, and to Wordnik, which only listed examples of its use rather than defining the word. What does the term mean when not used literally?

  • It's not a term known to even a significant minority of native speakers, and any "definition" is at best vague, so I think this is Too Localised for a site supposedly relevant to people who don't even have full command of "normal, standard" English. Commented Feb 27, 2013 at 2:49
  • @FumbleFingers In this comment, it appears (though I'm not certain) that a non-native English speaker was confused by the term "neckbeard", so I don't think it's irrelevant to non-native speakers. Being able to point to a good definition of the word would be useful. Do you think it's a better fit for ELU or programmers.SE?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Feb 27, 2013 at 3:01
  • If I type neckbeard into Google, "instant" suggests autocompleting with meme and surfboard. But without choosing either I can see enough on the Google homepage to figure out the kind of people who use the term, and with what general connotations. choster's answer looks reasonable to me, so I've upvoted it while closevoting the question itself. I probably wouldn't have closevoted on ELU, but I don't much like these sort of questions anywhere on SO - they're better addressed by urbandictionary, imho. Commented Feb 27, 2013 at 3:15
  • This famous Dilbert comic strip gives some further context: dilbert.com/strip/1995-06-24 It's especially relevant since most ruby programmers (the documentation is for ruby) would not consider themselves "neckbeards" and rather more hip, well groomed, and more likely to use more "hip" tools like ruby.
    – valbaca
    Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 1:19

3 Answers 3


"Neckbeard" is a term of abuse which has seen a rise in popularity thanks to some "neckbeard" photo clichés circulating the Internet. A person who is a neckbeard is a an obsessive, know-it-all male geek, and called so because growing a scraggly neckbeard may be taken as a sign of the poor grooming and/or social competence stereotypically attributed to them.

In the example above, a "neckbeard" is someone who doesn't trust the automated configuration and installation of the software, and demands to see (and to judge) its programming logic, and either tweak it with his own improvements or bypass it altogether.


If you can't find it on wikipedia, look in the urban dictionary.



 2. (n) Derogatory term for slovenly nerdy people who have no sense of hygene (sic) or grooming. Often related to hobbies such as card gaming, video gaming, anime, et. al.

Also in this instance, selecting the 'Images' search gives you a fairly good visual idea of what the term means (possibly sans pictures of Abe Lincoln).


It has no set meaning. When you see it used, don't assume they are using it to talk about D&D/anime nerds who work as Linux sysadmins and customize Puppet scripts.

In programming subreddits, I have seen it used in derogatory fashion to refer to hipster-type indie game developers, particularly those who make hipstery iOS games, wear black-rimmed glasses, and do most of their work via free wifi in the coffee shop inside of Powell's Books in Portland.

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