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meme

[meem] /mim/
noun
1.
  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.
2.
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.
3.
to make the subject of a meme:
cute cats that get memed.
Origin of meme
1976
1976; < Greek mīmeîsthai ‘to imitate, copy’; coined by R. Dawkins, British biologist
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for memes
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The pencil and brush are replaced by the scanner and by memes of operations favoring minute detail over meaningful wholes.

  • Its implicit assumption is that memes, the spiritual equivalent of genes, are subject to mechanisms of evolution.

British Dictionary definitions for memes

meme

/miːm/
noun
1.
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

meme

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]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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