Sunday, March 20, 2016


Today, I was perusing a list of words you're pronouncing wrong—I like to read things like this because they make me feel intellectually superior (though I did miss one word on this particular list: "mauve"), and I found the word "meme" on it.

I remember the first time I encountered the word "meme." It was probably around 2010. One of my friends kept saying it on Facebook, using it to refer to those once-ubiquitous surveys where you answer random questions about your yourself and post them on social media.

I puzzled over the meaning of the word but didn't look it up (because needing a dictionary is a sign of weakness!) and so came to the conclusion that "meme" was a survey one shares about oneself. And it was pronounced "Me me" because it was all about me!

Well, after some time passed, and I read of other things being referred to as memes (things that were far from personal surveys—LOLCats come to mind), I eventually had to admit my weakness and consult a dictionary. defines meme as 
  1. a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition and replication in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.
  2. a cultural item in the form of an image, video, phrase, etc., that is spread via the Internet and often altered in a creative or humorous way.

Once I looked up the definition, it became clear that any resemblance it had to the word "me" and any narcissistic implications of such were completely coincidental. 

At this point, I also learned that the word is pronounced "Meem," and I never looked back.

Until I read that list today and was reminded of my past stupidity. My misunderstanding of the word meme is probably one of the more amusing linguistic mistakes I've made in my life, but I'm glad that chapter is over. Here's celebrating 6 years of knowing the meaning and pronunciation of meme!


Anonymous said...

I can't take that website seriously after they say the proper way to pronounce gif is with a soft "g." I'm sure those savages would also choose to drop the last "a" in the pronunciation of caramel.