meme

noun
\ ˈmēm How to pronounce meme (audio) \

Definition of meme

1 : 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
2 : 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

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Other Words from meme

memetic \ mē-​ˈme-​tik How to pronounce memetic (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.’ I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate ‘mimeme’ to ‘meme.’" (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.") "Meme" itself, like any good meme, caught on fairly quickly, spreading from person to person as it established itself in the language.

Examples of meme in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The only silver lining: Twitter was ready and waiting with Colton-jumping-the-fence memes. Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire, "Colton Underwood Jumping the Fence Memes to Make You Laugh Through Your Tears," 5 Mar. 2019 Their names are everywhere, memes are already popping up, and Kris Jenner has probably been on the phone all night handling everything. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Tristan Thompson and Jordyn Woods' Cheating Scandal and Everything That Went Down," 22 Feb. 2019 But there is no better software package for amateur and pro photographers — or aspiring meme creators who just really like to mess around on Photoshop. Nick Statt, The Verge, "The first 11 apps to install on your new Mac," 27 Dec. 2018 Black American communities were among those most heavily targeted by the posts and ads, often with memes about police brutality and voter suppression messages. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: The NAACP’s weeklong boycott of Facebook and Instagram begins today," 18 Dec. 2018 For now, the solution might seem as simple as not posting the meme or not using the app, or trying not to mind the exploitation. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Domino's Pizza-Spotting App Is a Window Into a Future of Justified Paranoia," 20 Feb. 2019 That didn't stop fans from making hilarious memes about it, though. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "Are Kylie Jenner and Jordyn Woods Living Together? Here's What We Know," 20 Feb. 2019 Last night, in classic Miley fashion, the singer posted a NSFW meme on her Instagram Story and Twitter and tagged her hubby in the post. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Miley Cyrus Shares New Wedding Photos in Honor of Valentine's Day," 14 Feb. 2019 Watch the moment for yourself, below: The face Gaga made during Oh's joke is already becoming a meme on the Internet. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Lady Gaga Just Got Roasted for Her '100 People in a Room' Comment at the 2019 Golden Globes," 6 Jan. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of meme

1976, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for meme

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

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Last Updated

14 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for meme

The first known use of meme was in 1976

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More Definitions for meme

meme

noun

English Language Learners Definition of meme

: an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from one person to another in a culture
: an amusing or interesting picture, video, etc., that is spread widely through the Internet

More from Merriam-Webster on meme

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with meme

Nglish: Translation of meme for Spanish Speakers

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