Memes: they’re not just the thing your parents don’t understand. But don’t make fun of them too much, they were actually the ones who kicked off the modern day meme. They aren’t just an Internet thing though. The word “meme” comes from the Ancient Greek term for “imitator, pretender” so it’s got a pretty long history.
Whether you’re an avid meme creator and user, or you just like to enjoy them as they show up on your Instagram timeline, this deep look into the origins of our modern day memes will expand your meme knowledge. The first modern meme is more than 100 years old!
How Do You Pronounce Meme?
Photo credit: @JesseEdington / Twitter
This might seem weird, but a scientist actually coined the term ‘meme.’ Richard Dawkins is a controversial evolutionary biologist. He published a book about evolution called The Selfish Gene, in 1976.
In his book, he defined a meme as “any cultural idea, behavior, or style which could be replicated.” The word came from “mimeme,” an Ancient Greek word that means “imitator.” Dawkins wanted to shorten the word, and “meme” sounds like “gene.” That definition should end the age-old debate on how to pronounce the word. If someone’s arguing with you, kindly point out the word is meant to rhyme with “gene”. Checkmate.