(pron. `meem') A contagious information pattern that replicates by symbiotically infecting human minds and altering their behavior, causing them to propagate the pattern. (Term coined by Richard Dawkins, by analogy with "gene".)

Origin: "The new soup is the soup of the human culture. We need a name for this new replicator, a noun that conveys the idea of cultural transmission, or unit of imitation. 'Mimeme' comes from a suitable Greek root, but I wanted a monosyllable that sounds a bit like 'gene'. I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme. If it is any consolation, it could alternatively be thought of as being related to 'memory', or to the French word me^me. It should be pronounce to rhyme with 'cream' " (the selfish gene, Richard Dawkins, 1976)

Individual slogans, catch-phrases, melodies, icons, inventions, and fashions are typical memes. An idea or information pattern is not a meme until it causes someone to replicate it, to repeat it to someone else. All transmitted knowledge is memetic. (Mark Wheelis, quoted in Hofstadter.)

See also: meme-complexand meme-replication.

Last edited on Wednesday, October 1, 2003 8:52:29 pm.