One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1An element of a culture or system of behaviour passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means.
- ‘While genes compete to get copied when plants and animals reproduce, memes compete to get stored in our memories and passed on to someone else.’
- ‘The gene explains natural evolution and survival, while the meme explains cultural evolution and survival.’
- ‘As the building blocks of culture, memes influence every aspect of human behaviour.’
- ‘Benzon is dismissive of accounts of evolution of culture that rely on memes being intentional states.’
- ‘As people's skill at imitation increased, those memes that were good at getting copied would have spread far and wide.’
2An image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.
- ‘He says the appeal of the biggest memes is simple, basic humour.’
- ‘Wasn't there a meme a couple of years ago about giving people ownership of their personal data?’
- ‘Since these crazes can draw millions of internet users, advertisers and marketers are increasingly desperate to understand what makes a meme successful so that they can replicate it for profit.’
- ‘Adds a little context that makes particular sense if you have been following related memes in blogspace.’
- ‘The latest meme to infect the internet features footage of Fatso the keyboard-playing cat.’
- ‘Rogue vendors attempted to capitalize from the growing interest in the Kenny Glenn meme and searching for Glenn directed to rogue sites.’
- ‘Although it didn't win first prize, this one unleashed one of the most viral memes in the history of the Net.’
- ‘The Shaun Squad site of itself is not a meme, and never could be a meme, because it is inherently unlinkable.’
- ‘Here's a great post at The Community Engine on spreading and tracking your meme using tags.’
- ‘Tracks tech memes, and people play the game of jumping on the hottest stories to try to build traffic.’
- ‘It's forum has spawned many memes and more than its fair share of trolls.’
- ‘What if you could get the originator of every major internet meme in the same room?’
- ‘The "news" was often flippant, being about internet memes and strange events, and the "newscaster" was flippant, too.’
- ‘A string of empty government slogans, meanwhile, was parodied in a popular meme known as "the river crab wears three watches".’
1970s: from Greek mimēma ‘that which is imitated’, on the pattern of gene.
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