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The original O RLY? owl (from
Meme is a term created by Richard Dawkins in his book "The Selfish Gene" as:
a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation... [such as] tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation.

In fandom, memes are any pictures, quotes, or the ilk, that are reused and/or adapted and passed around the internet. Memes common in fandom include:

  • IM IN UR ___, ___ING UR ___
  • All your ___ are belong to ___
  • My hed iz pastede on yay

More recently, the term has come to refer to blog posts or discussion threads where comment is invited on a general fandom topic. For example, a Harry Potter meme might begin with a Livejournal post saying, "Tell me what you REALLY think of HP fandom!" Comments may be made by logged-in, identified individuals, or anonymous individuals who don't wish to be associated with the opinions they espouse. Meme varieties include hate memes, which exist solely to solicit criticism of prominent fandom personalities, and anon memes, where everyone must comment anonymously.

Historical definitions

The following definition dates to December 2005 in the Harry Potter fandom:

meme - /meem/ (By analogy with "gene") A meme is Richard Dawkins's term for an idea considered as a replicator, especially with the connotation that memes parasitise people into propagating them much as viruses do. Within the fandom, a meme is an "idea that is shared and passed from blog to blog, like a question posted in one blog and answered in many other blogs." (definition from The Meme List)[1]


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