Why was clemency trending last week?


[meem] /mim/
  1. a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition and replication in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.
  2. 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, memeing or meming.
to create and spread memes:
He spends a lot of time memeing and sharing his videos with friends.
verb (used with object), memed, memeing or meming.
to make the subject of a meme:
cute cats that get memed.
Origin of meme
1976; < Greek mīmeîsthai ‘to imitate, copy’; coined by R. Dawkins, British biologist Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for memes
  • So no viral thoughts or memes are magically gravitating together.
  • There is no distinction made between memes relating to belief and knowledge.
  • Conservatism is the dying throws of the last generation's memes.
  • We each develop our memes by constructive interpretation of sensory experience.
  • The problem here is that they are confusing genes with memes.
  • And it's one that doesn't even have any innocence to it, unlike the majority of false memes floating around.
  • Please stop trying to spread pernicious memes in a science magazine.
  • It gets to the point where we're pretty much dealing in memes.
  • Cats and failures highlight this list of the memes that have gone mainstream.
  • There is much talk in the wider culture about memes, and about the spreading and replicating of ideas.
British Dictionary definitions for memes


an idea or element of social behaviour passed on through generations in a culture, esp by imitation
Word Origin
C20: possibly from mimic, on the model of gene
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for memes



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]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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