I have been dabbling in meaning of words and I was wondering about the possible usage of the word meme in English which started in Greek mimeme.

Google gives me the definition:

An element of a culture or system of behaviour passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means

and somewhere else I get:

Something imitated

I would like to use the word in the context of programming because of our nature of imitating older languages when we create new ones.

My current elaboration of the word is: "That which is imitated from language to language. e.g.: loops and control statements"

Currently used in: "What are the most iconic programming memes and do they have an idiomatic representation?"

  • 1
    Given the current usage of the word meme, I don't recommend using it in a technical sense.
    – Hank
    Feb 3, 2017 at 14:36
  • Would 'legacy' be a good alternative with rephrasing of the sentence it is used in? Maybe even the elaboration it self.
    – Adrian Z.
    Feb 3, 2017 at 14:39
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    @MarkHubbard an example of a programming meme could be a statement which repeats it self between languages e.g.: a while statement or a variable assignment. Why do we do it this way and not some other way? It's because we trust in the ways that they have been developed and the thought process behind them. It probably also has something do to with us being easily biased about something what we use day-in and day-out. All of those things have some kind of idiomatic representation in some language but not in all. Easiest examples would probably be python and its pythonic way bit.ly/1Q8fU4q
    – Adrian Z.
    Feb 3, 2017 at 15:39
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    The word 'meme' is rapidly evolving and will mean different thing to different people at this time. People are using the complex and interesting term to refer to something as simple as a photo with humorous text put atop it. I suppose a large percentage of words have mutiple meanings though
    – Tom22
    Feb 3, 2017 at 20:45
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    Richard Dawkins has been given credit to giving (new?)life to the term in the 1970's. Interesting(light, not comprehensive) read for those interested... wired.co.uk/article/richard-dawkins-memes
    – Tom22
    Feb 3, 2017 at 21:02

1 Answer 1


Legacy, in the computer world, is usually used to describe something that is outdated. I wouldn't recommend using that. Perhaps standards or statements will work in your example:


  • Something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example; a criterion.

"What are the most iconic programming standards and do they have an idiomatic representation?"



  • An instruction in a computer program

"What are the most iconic programming statements and do they have an idiomatic representation?"


They don't necessarily carry the concept of being handed down or mimicked, per se, but they carry the idea that it is universally used across all programming.

  • You're right about the legacy. I'm not sure if the term 'standard' fully grasps what I want to say.
    – Adrian Z.
    Feb 3, 2017 at 15:07
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    In case of 'convention' it probably will have to many question marks around it. Meaning of it is probably to broad.
    – Adrian Z.
    Feb 3, 2017 at 15:09
  • 'Statement' would probably represent what I would like to convey. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statement_(computer_science). "What are the most iconic programming statements and do they have an idiomatic representation?"
    – Adrian Z.
    Feb 3, 2017 at 15:12
  • Sound good! Thanks for your help! I'll mark is as the answer.
    – Adrian Z.
    Feb 3, 2017 at 15:28
  • I think missing the definition of a meme being an idea with a life of it's own misses the more interesting definition of the word, even if more simple definitions are used now.
    – Tom22
    Feb 3, 2017 at 20:47

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