Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any unit of cultural information, such as a practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.
  • n. A self-propagating unit of cultural evolution having a resemblance to the gene (the unit of genetics).
  • n. A quiz or survey that is copied from one webpage or online journal to another, each participant filling in his or her personal answers.
  • n. A thought, idea, joke, or concept that spreads online, often virally. Can be in the form of an image, a video, an email, an animation, or music.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a cultural unit (an idea or value or pattern of behavior) that is passed from one person to another by non-genetic means (as by imitation)

Etymologies

Shortening (modeled on gene) of mimeme, from Greek mimēma, something imitated, from mimeisthai, to imitate; see mimesis.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Coined by Richard Dawkins, 1976 in the book, The Selfish Gene. Modelled after gene, from Ancient Greek μίμημα (mimema, "imitation, copy"), influenced by memory and French même ("same"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • I don't use it all the time -- just as often as appropriate. I find it quite handy.

    March 6, 2009

  • Not a fan of it myself... till I saw this.

    March 6, 2009

  • not a fan of this word.

    November 16, 2008

  • Dan Dennett talked about memes and dangerous ideas at TED 2002

    September 21, 2008

  • :D

    September 22, 2007

  • Whoops: delayed page refresh. Uselessness beat me to the reference recognition comment.
    *cool points demerit*

    September 22, 2007

  • Inconceivable!

    September 22, 2007

  • You mean like people who say meme all the time, and don't really know what it means? Why, that would be absolutely, totally, and in all other ways, inconceivable.

    September 22, 2007

  • Actually, 82, I thought memesta was clever! I'm absolutely in favor of madeupical words, as John says -- my issue is with the people who... how to put it? I think I must turn to the words of a man greater than I: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    September 22, 2007

  • Widespread Misuse. Good band name. ;-)

    September 22, 2007

  • oh, meem, of course. there is no question about that. i'm just hoping i'm not part of the "widespread misuse." :!

    September 21, 2007

  • Dissed why, because you coined a variant? Madeupical words are encouraged. I imagine colleen will be ok with memesta, as long as it's pronounced meemsta as opposed to, say, rhyming with lunesta :-)

    September 21, 2007

  • How do you say it?

    September 21, 2007

  • i feel like i just got dissed.

    September 21, 2007

  • the widespread misuse of this term on the web is probably a meme unto itself.

    and pronounced, I believe, as meem. not mehm, not mimi, people: meem.

    oh, so many rants, so little time...

    September 21, 2007

  • Coined by Richard Dawkins.

    September 21, 2007