meme

noun

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
memetic 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 Glen Powell has officially embraced the capybara meme. Athena Sobhan, Peoplemag, 16 July 2024 And then there are the shows, games, memes, bars, festivals, and rum bottles. Daniel Immerwahr, The New Yorker, 15 July 2024 The colleagues copied the meme that Sellwood and her friends started. Ryan Hogg, Fortune Europe, 15 July 2024 While discussing his newfound appreciation for her sixth studio album Brat, the Golden Globe nominee reacted to memes comparing his Twin Peaks: The Return character Dougie Jones’ lime green blazer to Charli’s new aesthetic. Glenn Garner, Deadline, 13 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for meme 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'meme.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1976, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of meme was in 1976

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Dictionary Entries Near meme

Cite this Entry

“Meme.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/meme. Accessed 23 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

meme

noun
ˈmēm
: an amusing or interesting item (as a captioned picture or video) or genre of items that is spread widely online especially through social media

More from Merriam-Webster on meme

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