- a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition and replication in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.
- a cultural item in the form of an image, video, phrase, etc., that is spread via the Internet and often altered in a creative or humorous way.
verb (used without object), memed, meme·ing or mem·ing.
- to create and spread memes: He spends a lot of time memeing and sharing his videos with friends.
verb (used with object), memed, meme·ing or mem·ing.
- to make the subject of a meme: cute cats that get memed.
- an idea or element of social behaviour passed on through generations in a culture, esp by imitation
n.1976, introduced by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in “The Selfish Gene,” coined by him from Greek sources, e.g. mimeisthai “to imitate” (see mime), and intended to echo gene. We need a name for the new replicator, a noun that conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. ‘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. If it is any consolation, it could alternatively be thought of as being related to ‘memory’, or to the French word même. It should be pronounced to rhyme with ‘cream’. [Richard Dawkins, “The Selfish Gene,” 1976]