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