What is an Internet meme?

An internet meme, commonly known as just a meme, is a type of content that spreads virally via the internet. It usually takes the form of a short video, GIF or an image, usually used for humorous purposes or to express sarcasm.

The correct way to pronounce the word meme is “meem” or phonetically “miːm”.

Memes are spread from one person to another via social media, blogs, emails, apps and messenger platforms. But the proliferation of social media platforms has led to the incredible popularity of this type of content.

Historically, the world meme was coined in 1976 by English biologist Richard Dawkins as a way to explain the way cultural information spreads. The concept of the internet meme was first proposed by American author Michael Godwin in an article for Wired Magazine, published in June 1993. It was twenty years later when Dawkins labeled the internet meme as being a meme that is deliberately altered by human creativity to spread a certain humorous message.

One of the first viral internet memes was the dancing baby, also known as “baby cha-cha”.

Some of the most popular modern internet memes include:

Hey Girl: A take on Hollywood actor Ryan Gosling’s potential as the perfect boyfriend

Leonardo DiCaprio: The famous shot from The Great Gatsby film of toasting, used to toast about pretty much anything

Tell Me More: Comic Gene Wilder slyly mocking someone’s knowledge

The great thing about memes is that they are copyright-free if you are posting or creating them as an individual. If you are using them as a company or for commercial use, there is a chance that the copyright holder of the original image may found out and ask you to remove it or pay a fine. So, businesses need to be careful, but if you’re making or sharing them for friends, you can use them without worry. You can create memes yourselves if you have basic image editing skills – all you need to do is insert a funny image in a PowerPoint template and add a funny caption over it. And most memes used the font Impact if you’re feeling creative.

If you don’t have the time to create your own memes, you can easily find them online on a variety of websites, including Reddit, Tumblr and Knowyourmeme.

Do you have any questions about memes? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us @JustAskGemalto.