Richard Dawkins coined the term meme in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene to mean "a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation."
I wondered what he’d think of it evolving to mean primarily "silly bad internet joke" these days. Evidently he told us what he thought, somewhat, back in 2012:
It is very good that Wikipedia also gives a page to "Internet Meme". Internet memes are arguably the most important subset of memes today.
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