You’ve probably heard the term, but what is a meme?
Well, it’s pretty simple – it’s usually a picture with a funny caption that’s been spread across the internet.
Memes have become an absolutely massive phenomenon in recent years, with almost every news event triggering dozens.
However, the word was first coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene.
Dawkins defined memes as ideas that spread from brain to brain – a cultural analogue to genes which replicate and spread. The scientist invented the neologism by shortening the Greek word mimeme, meaning “something which is imitated”.
“Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches,” he explained.
However, he refuses to use the term in its internet sense
The correct way to say “meme“. It’s actually even in the Oxford English Dictionary, and according to the BBC’s Pronunciation Unit, is pronounced as “meem” – not “may may” or “mee mee”.
Memes have even created their own superstars, such as a fist bumping baby and the ‘ermagerd’ girl (right), who was photographed young woman holding several books from the children’s horror fiction series Goosebumps, clearly a little overexcited.
The phonetically written captions are meant to sound like a speech impediment caused by the use of an orthodontic retainer.
Often these people are unsuspecting meme stars, created when an old photo of them was uploaded with a caption.
Creating them is simple, and there are dozens of sites online to help you make your own.
What is a meme: Success kid – where is he now?
Laney Griner’s is the photographer who took the famous photo of meme-sparking ‘Success Kid’ – who is actually her son Sammy.
She wrote: “I took the #SuccessKid photo on this day eight years ago, in 2007. #mememories”.
In response Robert McLaws asked: “what does he look like today?”
After Sammy’s meme went viral, the family used the attention for a good cause and were able to raise money for his father Justin’s kidney transplant, ABC said.
Laney said: ‘There’s so much positivity. There’s not a single thing we regret about Success Kid.’
‘It’s pretty crazy how it all happened. I still can’t wrap my head around it.’
They created a GoFundMe page and were eventually able to raise more than $100,000 to help with medical care costs, well over their original goal of $75,000.
Justin, whose mother died from kidney disease, had been on dialysis for more than six years.
The transplant surgery in August 2015 was a success.