The original sense of dork is penis. It is probably an alteration of dick, dating to the early 1960s.
From Jere Peacock’s 1961 novel Valhalla, in a reference to 1953:
You satisfy many women with that dorque?1
In 1964, the familiar spelling was captured in the May issue of American Speech:
The word dick itself serves as a model for two variants which are probably Midwestern, dirk and dork, also meaning “penis.”2
The sense of a contemptible person dates to at least 1967. From Don Moser’s and Jerry Cohen’s The Pied Piper of Tucson of that year:
I didn’t have any clothes and I had short hair and looked like a dork. Girls wouldn’t go out with me.3
Some contend, incorrectly, that dork originally meant a whale’s penis. That’s only half right; there is nothing particularly cetacean about the word.
1Historical Dictionary of American Slang, v. 1, A-G, edited by Jonathan Lighter (New York: Random House, 1994), 638.
2Lawrence Poston, “Some Problems in the Study of Campus Slang,” American Speech 39, no. 2 (May 1964): 118.
3HDAS, v. 1, 638.
Copyright 1997-2016, by David Wilton