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Word of the Day - for Toastmasters everywhere
Friday 29th May 2020
Archive | Previous word | Today's word |

meme (noun) MEEM

Practice, belief or cultural characteristic transmitted in a way analoagous to genetic information.

Respect for uncertainty has been central to both my faith and my career in science. I am aware, however, of the astonishing unpopularity of this position, which I must put down to the formidable dominance of the certainty meme - that social equivalent of the gene to which Dawkins introduced the world.

Stephen Unwin, The Guardian, 29 September 2006. Guardian

Despite genetic advances that revealed man's essential biological similarities, the 1900s saw wave upon wave of ethnic strife thanks (pace Richard Dawkins) to a race "meme" entering public discourse.

Tristram Hunt, The Guardian, 3 June 2006, Guardian
reviewing Niall Ferguson's The War of the World: History's Age of Hatred. Amazon

He invokes the idea of memes, first outlined by Richard Dawkins 30 years ago. Memes are persistent, convincing ideas - think of them as mental viruses - that have the ability to evolve and pass from one individual to another, down through generations.

Robin McKie, The Observer, 19 March 2006, The Observer
reviewing Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. Amazon

According to the theory of memes - which is the study of infectious ideas - there are two primary ways for an up-and-coming religious group to get its message out.

Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker, 14 April 1997. The New Yorker

The somber sixth anniversary of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks comes this week, an appropriate time to examine how and where the meme 9/11 has taken hold in the language.

William Safire, The New York Times, 9 September 2007. New York Times

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