Dictionary.com’s Top 10 Memes You Need To Know How To Use

Expanding Brain meme

The expanding brain meme shows the ironic progression of ideas (from supposedly primitive to more advanced) using a sequence of images depicting various stages of spiritual or mental enlightenment. It's used for general humorous observations, satire, social commentary, and ridicule of others or to show an original, clever, or out-of-the-box idea.

The expanding brain meme first emerged in January, 2017 on the Reddit subred: r/dankmemes. The original meme consisted of four images. The first featured a small brain inside an x-ray next to the word who. The second image illustrated a larger brain, with pink and purple lights representing neural activity, next to whom. The third (larger) brain image was paired with whom’st. The final head, next to whomst’d, had green beams radiating out of the brain, as if it were exploding with enlightenment. Whom’st and whomst’d are nonsense words, inspired by corrections (or miscorrections) of who and whom, and they are used to mock faux-fancy forms of whom.

The meme quickly spread in 2017 from Reddit to Tumblr and Twitter as users cleverly substituted the who-whomd’st progression for other absurd sequences.

Bad Luck Brian

Bad Luck Brian is a meme featuring a teenage boy in a sweater vest showing off a goofy grin with braces. The text on the image describes various unfortunate, unlucky, embarrassing, and hilarious circumstances that happen to him.

The original Bad Luck Brian meme was posted to Reddit in the subreddit /r/AdviceAnimals on January 23, 2012. It reads “Takes driving test. Gets first DUI.” It received some attention, but later on the same day, a significantly more popular Bad Luck Brian meme was posted. It reads: “Fart in class. Shits.”

Like other memes, Bad Luck Brian tells a humorous story in a handful of words. Many of these stories focus on occurrences that the creators imagine could happen to a character like Bad Luck Brian if he were real. Mainly, Bad Luck Brian is used to describe embarrassing or unfortunate situations, often involving sexuality, bodily fluids, and negative social interactions. What's not funny about that?

Evil Kermit

Evil Kermit is about your internal dialogue encouraging you to do things that might sound good, but probably won’t end up being very good decisions. Alternatively, Evil Kermit is about “indulging in your vices” or being impulsive.

The actual image that appears in the meme is taken from the 2014 movie Muppets Most Wanted. In the movie, Kermit is faced with his evil doppelganger, Constantine, who wears a black cloak. The meme itself is taken from a still of the two characters facing one another in the film. The Evil Kermit meme first appeared on November 6, 2016. Twitter user @aaannnnyyyyaaaa tweeted the picture with the caption “me: sees a fluffy dog / me to me: steal him.”

Over the next few days, other Twitter users began to post their own versions of the meme: “Me: I’m sure there’s a logical explanation for this. / Me to me: Overreact.” Another, by @BreaSimone reads “Me: he apologized. I should say okay & let it go. / Other me: bring up that thing that pissed you off 3 weeks ago too. Finish him.”

Grumpy Cat

Grumpy Cat is a feline internet celebrity who became an overnight sensation because of her perpetually grumpy-looking facial expression.

The majority of Grumpy Cat memes use photos of Tardar Sauce (the cat's actual name) with comments about something negative, in a broad sense.

Plus, who doesn't love hearing negativity spewing from a grumpy-looking cat. Grumpy Cat even has her own line of merchandise now ... check it out below:

Ancient Aliens

The ancient aliens meme features a still image from the television show of the same name. This picture of host Giorgio A. Tsoukalos is then paired with text about aliens as the cause of whatever is the topic of discussion, however unlikely that may be.

The television show Ancient Aliens started airing in April, 2010. The show has serious critics who point to its problematic practice of presenting completely fabricated, far-fetched stories as history. People use the meme to poke fun at the show, and specifically Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, though Tsoukalos has said in interviews that he loves the meme and finds it funny.

The ancient aliens meme itself is an image macro that depicts Giorgio A. Tsoukalos with a humorous phrase insisting some unexplained phenomena was the work of aliens or some other supernatural being. It could also be posted in reference to something perfectly explainable, but with the unlikely insistence that it was aliens who were responsible.

Over time, ancient aliens has evolved to include many variations. A popular version is the image overlaid with the text "I'm not saying it was aliens… but it was aliens," or the more simplistic version that has just "ALIENS."

One does not simply

Alluding to a quote from a Lord of the Rings movie, One does not simply is the catchphrase of popular memes that comment on humorous, complex, challenging, or aggravating experiences or situations.

In a notable scene in the first movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, a secret council declares that a magical, powerful ring can only be destroyed by being pitched into the fires of Mount Doom, a volcano in the dark and evil land of Mordor. In response, the character of Boromir, played by Sean Bean, explains to the group with great apprehension: “One does not simply walk into Mordor. Its black gates are guarded by more than just orcs. There is evil there that does not sleep.” And then, making a circle with his hand, he says. “The great eye is ever watchful.”

The One does not simply meme usually features a screenshot of Sean Bean as Boromir, especially a still of the actor making a circular, eye shape with his hand. At the top of the image is the caption One does not simply followed by text on the bottom like “One does not simply touch MC Hammer” or “One does not simply save Africa by donating $1.”

In 2015, Sean Bean acknowledged the popularity of the meme himself in an interview: “For some reason, the parts I play, like Boromir or Ned Stark, have a life online long afterwards...I keep seeing, what do you call them—memes? ‘One does not simply ask for a drink' instead of ‘One does not simply walk into Mordor’—that sort of thing...They'll probably be my unintended legacy.”

Hey Girl

The Ryan Gosling Hey Girl meme is a series of images of Canadian actor Ryan Gosling paired with text that begins with the phrase “Hey girl.” While feminist and romantic messages are typically used, the image and phrase have been used to comment on a variety of subjects including art, politics, philosophy, and sports.

The growing number of Hey Girl memes came to mainstream attention in 2010 when Gosling read some of the text from various images during an MTV interview.

Overly Attached Girlfriend

The Overly Attached Girlfriend meme is used to joke about obsessive, clingy behavior sometimes exhibited by women in relationships. The behavior attributed to Overly Attached Girlfriend is sometimes considered misogynistic and sexist.

In 2012, Justin Bieber launched a contest to accompany the release of his new fragrance Girlfriend. He challenged fans to rewrite the lyrics to his song “Boyfriend” from the girlfriend’s point of view, then upload a video of them singing the song to YouTube. Laina Morris, then a 20-year-old from Texas, uploaded a video submission for the contest in which she sang about being a clingy girlfriend and smiled a creepy, wide-eyed smile at the camera. Reddit user yeahhtoast took a screenshot of Morris smiling and captioned it with a joke: “I sewed my name on your shirts in case you forget you’re taken.” The meme took off, and internet users began replacing the text with their own jokes about having a stalker for a girlfriend (e.g., “Just because you broke up with me doesn’t mean I broke up with you” or “I recorded you breathing at night and made it my ringtone”).

Thanks, Obama

Thanks, Obama is a meme in which 44th president of the United States is blamed, often humorously, for various misfortunes.

The perceived overuse of the sarcastic phrase Thanks, Obama by conservatives lead to a new use of the phrase to facetiously blame the president for any kind of negative event. In 2012, the website Quickmeme dedicated a page to the “Everything is Barack Obama’s fault” meme, featuring an image of the president looking downtrodden with captions like “My toast got burnt this morning” or “I got a paper cut” followed by Thanks, Obama.

Obama himself became aware of the meme and referenced it on more than one occasion. In a 2015 BuzzFeed video aimed at raising awareness for the Affordable Care Act, the president responded to a cookie too large for his glass of milk by muttering “Thanks, Obama” under his breath. In a 2016 interview, the president concluded his remarks on the reduction of unemployment during his term with Thanks, Obama.

Even after Obama left office, the phrase and the hashtag have seen continued use in the press and on social media as an automatic, humorous issuing of blame, especially for ridiculously minor incidents or situations Obama could never have control over.

Pepe the Frog

We're ending with one you should definitely know about ... but shouldn't use!

Pepe the Frog is a humanoid frog cartoon character who became a popular internet meme in the early 2000s, and was notoriously appropriated by white supremacists during the 2016 US presidential election.

According to Know Your Meme, users began creating their own Pepe images in 2008 in forums on the imageboard site 4chan. These Pepes, riffing on the frog’s signature smile, spread online as a humorous reaction, much as people post GIFs to illustrate how they feel about something.

By 2014–15, Pepe had gone full mainstream, with singers Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj notably posting Pepe memes on Twitter. But as The Daily Beast reported in May, 2016, some white supremacists were disappointed by Pepe’s widespread popularity. And so, as a dark and shocking joke, they fashioned Pepes with various anti-Semitic and other racist imagery in efforts to make Pepe’s widespread use less appealing to those outside their circle. One depicts a caricatured Jewish Pepe smiling at burning Twin Towers on September 11. Another swaps out Pepe’s “Feels good man” for “Kill all Jews.”

Starting around 2015, alt-right supporters of Donald Trump embraced the bigoted Pepe memes, spreading suited-up and blonde-coiffed versions of the frog after the likeness of their candidate. While apparently unaware of Pepe’s symbolism, Donald Trump retweeted a Trump Pepe in October, 2015, as did Donald Trump Jr. following Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment in September, 2016.

This unassuming cartoon frog became so established as a racist symbol that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) labeled Pepe the Frog as a hate symbol in September, 2016.

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