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/meem/ [By analogy with "gene"] 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.

Memes can be considered the unit of cultural evolution. Ideas can evolve in a way analogous to biological evolution. Some ideas survive better than others; ideas can mutate through, for example, misunderstandings; and two ideas can recombine to produce a new idea involving elements of each parent idea.

The term is used especially in the phrase "meme complex" denoting a group of mutually supporting memes that form an organised belief system, such as a religion. However, "meme" is often misused to mean "meme complex".

Use of the term connotes acceptance of the idea that in humans (and presumably other tool- and language-using sophonts) cultural evolution by selection of adaptive ideas has become more important than biological evolution by selection of hereditary traits. Hackers find this idea congenial for tolerably obvious reasons.

See also memetic algorithm.


(Pronounced "meem") A trend, belief, fashion or phrase that is passed from generation to generation through imitation and behavioral replication. Coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book "The Selfish Gene," memes and memetics are the cultural counterpart to the biological study of genes and genetics. Using the evolution analogy, Dawkins observed that human cultures evolve via "contagious" communications in a manner similar to the gene pool of populations over time. See Internet meme.
References in periodicals archive ?
The alt-right movement has a very strong online presence and, as a result, has produced many viral memes in support of the president in addition to painting opponents in a negative light ("Online Antagonism of the Alt-Right in the 2016 Election," Niko Heikkila, European Journal of American Studies, 12(2), Summer 2017;
I started with viral memes because they are easy to explain, but the vast majority of memes are not viruses--they are the very foundation of our lives and cultures, including transport and communications, political and monetary systems, and all of the arts and sciences.
With only 140 characters, netizens on Twitter can get creative, from creating viral memes to plotting an entire movie.
Here are some of the top viral memes that have made their way to the Internet and that too in style:
Viral memes of Cruz being the Zodiac Killer began circulating during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The twitter trend also resulted in viral memes on Facebook.
(../Aug%2028/From%20Conjuring%20to%20My%20Husbands%20Lover%20Viral%20Memes%20for%20Philippine%20Pork%20Barrel%20Scandal.docx) From Conjuring to My Husband's Lover: Viral Memes for Philippine Pork Barrel Scandal
Besides the viral memes, Filipinos showed their disgust over the pork barrel scam with an indignation rally in Manila and other key cities of the country on Monday, Aug 26, with thousands attending the simultaneous events.