Photo of author


Meme is a word that refers to a certain type of internet phenomenon. Surprisingly, the origin of the word meme predates the personal computer and the internet. We will look at the definition of the word meme, where the term came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

The most popular definition of the word meme is a video, image or idea that spreads exponentially across the internet by sharing and repetition, often with slight alterations to the original image, video or idea. Most often, memes are humorous. Interestingly, the word meme was coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, in the book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins proposed the word meme, derived from the Greek word mimēma which means imitated, to describe “…the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation.” To Dawkins, these ideas or memes evolved as they spread through and between cultures, he likened memes to living things. Memes may be consciously created for financial gain, such as the I Can Haz Cheezburger? meme, or it may arise spontaneously in the same manner as the Harambe meme. An example of a meme that occurred before the invention of the internet is the phenomenon of writing Kilroy was here in random places, during and after World War II.


Her self-serious response to Kardashian West’s raucous expose – “I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative” – soon curdled into a mocking meme. (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Anirudh continues to be the purveyor of catchphrases for the Tamil youth mired in meme-culture. (The Hindu)

Bone’s glasses, mustache, surname, and sartorial choices primed him for meme status before he even took the stage to quiz Trump and Clinton about energy independence. (The New York Magazine)