\ 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 GameStop, the primordial meme stock, is executing a 4-for-1 stock split today, July 21. Scott Nover, Quartz, 21 July 2022 After the surge in meme-stock trading, the SEC launched a yearlong review of the stock market’s plumbing, with a particular focus on the handling of individual investors’ trades. Caitlin Mccabe, WSJ, 18 June 2022 Even by the standards of modern American political discourse, there is something ghoulish about trying to turn pedestrian deaths from car crashes into a culture-war meme. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 18 Mar. 2022 One quote from the feature has social media users bristling, and the advice has turned into a meme. NBC News, 10 Mar. 2022 On TikTok, her clip has turned into a meme for the Great Resignation, drawing reactions both from users who chuckle at Reid’s misfortune and those who admire her resolve. Washington Post, 27 Dec. 2021 Several other high-profile companies have also recently announced intentions to split their stocks, including Tesla (TSLA) and meme favorite GameStop (GME). Paul R. La Monica, CNN, 18 July 2022 In one meme, a boar replaces the she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus, Rome’s mythical forefathers. Stefano Pitrelli, Washington Post, 17 July 2022 Thor: Love and Thunder puts a lot of energy into making its ancient gods seem modern, including giving the thunder god's goats the voice of an old Taylor Swift meme. Christian Holub,, 15 July 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

3 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Meme.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of meme for Spanish Speakers


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