New Nerd Merit Badge: Homonyms


The folks behind the patches that clearly mark your nerdy prowess – Nerd Merit Badges – have released their latest merit badge, Homonyms (pictured on the right).

In case your grade school English classes are a distant memory, the most common use of the term homonym is for words that are pronounced the same way but are different in meaning and spelling. This is symbolized in the merit badge by the combination of three images: rain, the horse’s rein, and the crown, which symbolizes the reign of a monarch.

To earn this merit badge, you have to be able to correctly spell homonyms. As with the other merit badges, they’re relying on the honour system; that is, the fine Nerd Merit Badges people expect that you will order this badge if and only if you  know in your heart of hearts that you have truly earned it.

Some of you may complain that the badge should actually be called Homophones (from the Latin words for “same” and “sound”) because the term homonym (from the Latin words for “same” and “name”), when strictly used refers to words with the same pronunciation and spelling but different meaning. Examples include bear, which could refer to the animal or mean “to carry”, or stalk, which could refer to a plant part or refer to hunting. If you are one of these people, I will notify you when they make a Pedant Nerd Merit Badge.

This Nerd Merit Badge, like the previous two, is available at the Nerd Merit Badges site for USD$3.99; you can also buy a five-pack for USD$19.95.

I covered the previous two Nerd Merit Badges in earlier articles, which I’ve linked below:


New Nerd Merit Badge: Inbox Zero

"Inbox Zero" Nerd Merit Badge

The folks behind Nerd Merit Badges have come up with their second badge, Inbox Zero (pictured on the left). You qualify for this badge if you maintain an empty inbox at least 71.4% of the time.

If you’re not familiar with the “Inbox Zero” concept, it’s covered quite thoroughly in 43 Folders, the personal productivity blog started by Merlin Mann, where the term was popularized.


I covered the first Nerd Merit BadgeOpen Source Contributor, which features “Octocat”, the mascot for the Git distributed version control system, back in January.

Nerd Merit Badges are 1.5 inches in diameter and are velcro-backed so you can stick them to your clothes, a scouting sash or even any of your gear. They sell for US$3.99 (plus US$1 for shipping and handling within the US) and are sold on the honour system – you should order a Nerd Merit Badge only if you’ve earned it! Any karmic payback accrued from ordering an unearned Nerd Merit Badge is your problem.

If you’d like to keep up with what the Nerd Merit Badge folks are up to, be sure to follow their Twitter account.


Nerd Merit Badges

Sash with many nerd merit badges

Just as Boy Scouts earn merit badges for accomplishments in some area of study, now we geeky types can earn Nerd Merit Badges for nerdy accomplishments. The first in the series is now available: it’s “Open Source Contributor”, pictured below:

"Open Source Contributor" nerd merit badge

(In case you don’t recognize the image on the badge, it’s the “Octocat”, the mascot for the GitHub source code repository service.)

The badges sell for USD$3.99 and I assume that they’re working on the honour system – that is, the assumption that you’ll only order the badges you’ve earned. More badges are on the way; the best way to stay informed is to follow them on Twitter.