How meme was named meme?

The word “meme” itself has a fascinating history, separate from the internet memes we know today. The credit for coining the term goes to evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book “The Selfish Gene.”

Here’s the breakdown:

    • Inspiration: Dawkins was looking for a way to describe how ideas and cultural aspects spread through imitation, similar to how genes replicate in biological evolution.

    • Word Origin: He took inspiration from the Greek word “mimeme” (pronounced mee-may-mah), which means “something imitated.”

    • Shortening it Down: To make it sound similar to “gene” and create a catchy term, Dawkins shortened “mimeme” to “meme.”

It’s interesting to note that Dawkins’ concept of memes focused on the broader spread of cultural ideas, like fashion trends, musical styles, or even the way we build things (like arches). The internet meme phenomenon, with its funny images and rapid online sharing, emerged much later in the 1990s.

Here’s a timeline of how memes became what we know today:

    • 1976: The term “meme” is coined by Richard Dawkins.

    • 1990s: The internet age dawns and with it comes “internet memes” as we know them. These early memes were spread through email, message boards, and Usenet groups. Think dancing baby gifs or the Hampster Dance craze.

    • Early 2000s: Social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter explode. This allows memes to spread faster and wider than ever before.

    • Today: Memes are a huge part of internet culture. They come in all shapes and sizes, from funny images with captions (“advice animals”) to dark humour (“dank memes”) to short video formats popularized by Vine and TikTok.


Details of Richard Dawkins



Richard Dawkins is a prominent figure in two worlds: evolutionary biology and popular science writing.

Here’s a breakdown of his key details:

  • Accolades:

    • British evolutionary biologist, ethologist, and author

    • Emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford

    • Former Professor for Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University (1995-2008)

  • Famous Works:

    • Author of influential books including:


        • “The Selfish Gene” (1976): Popularized the gene-centred view of evolution and coined the term “meme”

        • “The Blind Watchmaker” (1986): Explained the power of natural selection in creating complex life

        • “The God Delusion” (2006): A controversial critique of religion and advocate for atheism

  • Known For:

    • Championing the gene as the central unit of evolution

    • Advocating for scientific literacy and public understanding of science

    • An outspoken critic of religion and a prominent atheist

  • Background:

    • Born: March 26, 1941, Nairobi, Kenya

    • Education: Degrees in zoology from Oxford University

  • Interesting Facts:

    • Dawkins’ concept of memes referred to the spread of cultural ideas, while internet memes took on a different meaning later.

    • His work on evolution is well-respected, but his criticisms of religion can be quite fiery, making him a polarizing figure.