[ 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, 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.

Nearby words

  1. membranous laryngitis,
  2. membranous ossification,
  3. membranous rhinitis,
  4. membranously,
  5. membrum,
  6. memel,
  7. memento,
  8. memento mori,
  9. memling,
  10. memling, hans

Origin of meme

First recorded in 1976, meme is from the Greek word mīmeîsthai ‘to imitate, copy’; coined by R. Dawkins, British biologist Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for meme

British Dictionary definitions for meme


/ (miːm) /


an idea or element of social behaviour passed on through generations in a culture, esp by imitation

Word Origin for meme

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

Word Origin and History for meme



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