On the internet, when talking about memes, a "dank meme" means old and out-played. According to Wiktionary, "dank" means "to moisten, dampen; used of mist, dew etc.". This doesn't sound like the definition of "dank" on the context of memes at all.

I would like to know why the word "dank" was chosen.


2 Answers 2


I would go out on a limb and say that the metaphor underlying dank here is of something old and relegated to a damp basement, edit: or something wet and smelly like vegetable matter in a wet place.

Dank weed is a 150-year-old collocation referring to such plant matter, and that's how it got applied to (top quality) marijuana, whose skunky smell and funky appearance resembled a weed from a moist place and beginning to decompose.

“Dank Memes” is an ironic expression used to mock online viral media and in-jokes that have exhausted their comedic value to the point of being trite or cliché. In this context, the word “dank,” originally coined as a term for high quality marijuana, is satirically used as a synonym for “cool.” http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/dank-memes

So, according to knowyourmeme.com, "dank" is a term of approbation (like "cool") but is being applied ironically to mean just the opposite, not cool.

  • 1
    Your source misses the point. The phrase "dank meme" was at first used unironically, to describe particularly internet phenomena in the exact same way "dank weed" is used. Only because of its initial, serious usage did the phrase, not the just the word "dank," get picked up as a tongue-in-cheek or mocking expression to refer to memes.
    – Jakub
    Jan 28, 2016 at 14:49
  • Are you saying that the literal meaning "smelling of dampness and decay/having the appearance of rotting plant matter" as applied as a term of approbation to marijuana was similarly applied to high quality internet content and only later came to be used ironically when applied to trite and cliche internet content?
    – Tim
    Jan 28, 2016 at 15:14

I always thought it was borrowed from a cannabis reference 'dank weed' being cannabis that has strong and appeal fragrance.

A quick google of 'dank weed' suggests that dank is indeed being used in this context.

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