Attemps to define internet memes

Attempts to Define Internet Memes

By: Daniel Jeffers - Web Content Strategy - 2013


My Definition of an Internet meme

A meme is a piece of content, type of content, or behavior related to Internet content that is transmitted across a network by imitation. Memes usually have weak connection to a single author. They normally require specific rule-sets, shared across the network, for both production and interpretation of the content.

Attempts to Define Internet Meme from Other Sources


The term Internet meme ( /ˈmiːm/ meem)[1] is used to describe a concept that spreads via the Internet.[2] The term is a reference to the concept of memes, although the latter concept refers to a much broader category of cultural information. The earliest known usage of the word meme is in the book The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins published in 1976.


An Internet meme is a cultural phenomenon that spreads from one person to another online.

A meme spread online could be just about anything that is voluntarily shared, including phrases, images, rumors and audio or video files. An Internet meme might originate and stay online. However, frequently memes cross over and may spread from the offline world to online or vice-versa.


An image, video, story or joke that is voluntarily passed from one Internet user to another via e-mail, blogs and social networking sites. Considered a form of art, Internet memes are created to promote individuals, groups, movies, art, music and products, as well as to perpetrate a hoax or just be funny. They can disappear in days or last for years. See meme.

MacMillan Dictionary

A concept or idea that spreads very quickly via the Internet.


The term Internet meme is a neologism used to describe a catchphrase or concept that spreads quickly from person to person via the Internet, much like an inside joke. The term is a reference to the concept of memes, although this concept refers to a much broader category of cultural information.

Urban Dictionary has several definitions:

  1. A short phrase, picture, or combination of the two that gets repeated in message boards and Barrens chat for far, far longer than anything ever ought to be.
  2. An ‘Internet Meme’ is a word, phrase, expression, iconic imagery or recognizable reference popularized amongst online communities such as on forums or in online games. They are annoying and usually carry a vibe of geeky-ness, which rides well with annoying people who are all about nerd culture. The most famous one being “LOL”, ‘Laugh-out-loud’.
  3. A trend that was funny/cool at first, but has gotten to the point of being so painfully unfunny and overused that most memes are used simply to provoke someone in an argument. Other memes are used by people that lack even a strand of a sense of humor. Also abused by douche bags and/or tools.


Sociology notwithstanding, on the Internet, a “meme” (pronounced “meem”) is usually described as a catchy derivative of some aspect of pop culture, parodied and repeated to the point that its origins and original meaning become muddled and completely mutilated beyond any point of recognition or humor.