Memes: definition and origin of the internet term

by Pramith

By definition, a meme is a combination of image and writing that can make an inside joke or controversial statement

Definition of a meme – simply & quickly explained

For the meaning of a meme, it can be explained that in most cases it is an image with a short, striking text. This often refers to events from all over the world, be it series, films or youth language.

  • In many cases, a meme is an inside joke in which a picture of a well-known person is combined with a meaningful text. They have spread quickly on the Internet because they can be so diverse and apply to a wide variety of situations.
  • A meme (pronounced “miem”) is usually a funny picture or video. They sarcastically depict or imitate well-known personalities who have caused a stir in the media in the past. Comments are often added that make a different kind of sense
  • There are virtually no limits to the imagination here. There are many different images of private individuals, movie or series characters or even celebrities that can be combined with any kind of pun. There are even programs and apps such as Meme Generator for iOS or as a web app that you can use to create your own memes.
  • Occasionally, memes are created completely without text. Then, for example, an original image is edited and details are removed or added so that the message changes.
  • A well-known example is the Doge meme. The dog picture of a Shiba Inu even made it to the Twitter icon – albeit not without controversy. The previously well-known bird was replaced with this

The origin of the term meme – fun facts that impress

The origin of the word meme and its first creation are far apart in terms of time and content.

  • The word “meme” originally comes from the Greek word “mimema” and means “imitation”. The term was first used in 1976 by biologist Richard Dawkins, albeit in a completely different context. He used it to describe genes that people pass on to each other through imitation.
  • A meme in the modern understanding is also something imitated, namely to provide an existing image or video with a different text, thus imitating it and giving it its own touch.
  • According to most researchers, the first known meme is the “Dancing Baby”. This is a video in which an animated, dancing baby is depicted. This quickly caught on for other videos or characters, for example “Nyan Cat”, “Grumpy Cat” or “Gangnam Style”.
  • Memes can also appear outside the internet. Sometimes, for example, advertising agencies take existing images or videos and change them to suit their advertising activities in order to appeal to the desired target group.

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