\ ˈmēm How to pronounce meme (audio) \

Definition of meme

1 : an amusing or interesting item (such as a captioned picture or video) or genre of items that is spread widely online especially through social media … the band encouraged fans to make memes to advertise the U.S. release of their EP …— William Gruger The grumpy cat meme frowned its way onto the Internet in September 2012 and never turned its dissatisfied head back. Since then, the image of the cranky cat has grown more and more popular in direct proportion to appearing less and less impressed by fame.— Anastasia Thrift
2 : an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture Memes (discrete units of knowledge, gossip, jokes and so on) are to culture what genes are to life. Just as biological evolution is driven by the survival of the fittest genes in the gene pool, cultural evolution may be driven by the most successful memes.— Richard Dawkins

Other Words from meme

memetic \ mē-​ˈme-​tik How to pronounce meme (audio) , mə-​ \ adjective
… the exhibition seeks to give a sense not only of Holmes's origins but of the real-world milieu in which Conan Doyle set him and of his memetic spread through the culture. — Sam Leith

Did you know?

In his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, British scientist Richard Dawkins defended his newly coined word meme, which he defined as "a unit of cultural transmission." Having first considered, then rejected, mimeme, he wrote: "Mimeme comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like gene." (The suitable Greek root was mim-, meaning "mime" or "mimic." The English suffix -eme indicates a distinctive unit of language structure, as in grapheme, lexeme, and phoneme.) Like any good meme, meme caught on and evolved, eventually developing the meaning known to anyone who spends time online, where it's most often used to refer to any one of those silly captioned photos that the Internet can't seem to get enough of.

Examples of meme in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Brown turned Milwaukee’s defense from manacle to meme. Globe Staff,, 4 May 2022 Last Friday, the popular Instagram meme account @officialseanpenn posted a series of pictures of the star on vacation in her native Barbados, ankle-high in the waters of the Atlantic. The New Yorker, 30 Apr. 2022 The volatility in crypto prices, especially alternative currencies like meme coins, can be quick and provide the brain quick feelings of reward. Washington Post, 29 Apr. 2022 The Jets, who pick fourth and 10th, are eager to get things going as this meme on their Twitter account shows. Tim Bielik, cleveland, 28 Apr. 2022 This doesn’t mean leaving every inappropriate meme or a comment that is profane or defamatory in nature posted. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 25 Apr. 2022 Earlier on Friday, Lizzo teased her appearance at the festival on TikTok by putting her own twist on the app’s latest meme of a girl hitting her hip on the side of a bed and screaming in pain (and perfect pitch). Ellise Shafer, Variety, 23 Apr. 2022 The number of changes, shuffles, openings and closings that have happened among his Underbelly Hospitality restaurant group in the past few months is enough to merit its own confused math lady meme. Emma Balter, Chron, 22 Apr. 2022 For Cage fans, the movie is a funhouse-mirror trip through his life and career in all its meme-generating glory. Los Angeles Times, 21 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'meme.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of meme

1976, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for meme

alteration of mimeme, from mim- (as in mimesis) + -eme

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Last Updated

11 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Meme.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of meme for Spanish Speakers


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