Haven't the faintest idea what your friends /children / teenagers / younger siblings are talking about? We've picked our top 12 favourite memes ever created on the web to help you get a handle on the 21st century and figure out the essential geek lingo.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a meme refers to a humorous image, video or a piece of text that is copied and spread rapidly over social media and online forums by internet users.
Often the images can be manipulated to become image macros, i.e. images that have had text superimposed onto them, or animated gif images, which animate a short scene that lasts a few seconds on an endless loop.
New memes are constantly being created every day, with 1,828 so far accepted and confirmed on Cheezburger's Know Your Meme database, as well as numerous variations on popular themes. We don't expect you to know them all, but these might help get you started.
We're not talking about twerking, selfies or top celebrities of the year – for that information, please check out:
- Year in Review 2013 - Twerking, Snowden and Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse
- YouTube Rewind 2013: Miley Cyrus, Ylvis, Van Damme and Wrecking Ball [VIDEOS]
"Doge" is a slang term referring to the Japanese dog breed Shiba Inu. Photos of this dog are photoshopped onto photos of amusing photographs, together with five phrases meant to illustrate the dog's internal monologue.
The trick is to make the phrases as succinct as possible, using adverbs like "such", "very", "much", "many", together with the interjection "wow". Doge is so popular now that it even has its own bitcoin currency named after it (read: What is Dogecoin?).
2. All Your Base Are Belong To Us
"All Your Base Are Belong To Us" is a much beloved catchphrase that comes from a 1989 Japanese 16-bit side-scrolling shoot 'em up arcade game called Zero Wing. The animated intro of the game features a badly dubbed English translation which is supposed to mean "all of your bases are under our control". The opening scene from the game has been going viral since 2000 and featured in thousands of flash animations.
3. Haters Gonna Hate
"Haters gonna hate" is a phrase used to acknowledge and show a disregard for hostile opinions, usually featuring a person or animal strutting or posing in a conceited manner. A "hater" is someone who is never happy for another's success and seeks to find something to criticise.
4. Nyan Cat (Pop Tart Cat)
Nyan Cat is an 8-bit animation gif image featuring a cat wearing the body of a cherry pop tart flying through outer space with a trail of rainbows behind it by illustrator Chris Torres. Originally titled Pop Tart Cat, Nyan Cat rose to fame in 2011 after the animation was set to the music of a Japanese Vocaloid song and made into a video. Today, you can buy Nyan Cat merchandise at geek-friendly stores.
5. Epic Fail Guy
Epic Fail Guy is the name of a stick-figure comic series about a character wearing a Guy Fawkes mask that fails at everything he attempts. The comic first appeared on the 4chan message boards in 2006.
"Epic Fail" is a popular phrase used nowadays to point out glaring stupidity or foolishness, usually accompanied by a photograph. Interestingly, the reason hackers group Anonymous apparently began wearing Guy Fawkes masks, was because the group wanted to tell Scientologists during a protest in 2008 that they were an "epic fail".
You can view examples of Epic Fail photo macro memes on Fail Blog.
6. My Spoon is Too Big
"My Spoon is Too Big" is a much-loved phrase from Rejected, an Academy-Award nominated short film from 2000 by American animator Don Hertzfeldt about an animator whose reel of work becomes gradually more abstract as he suffers a mental breakdown.
7. One Does Not simply (Walk Into Mordor)
"One Does Not Simply Walk Into Mordor" is a phrase uttered by the character Boromir in the film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The phrase "One does not simply..." has been used in many image macros together with actor Sean Bean's face.
8. This Is Sparta
Remember that film, 300, about an ancient war between the Spartans and the Persians? "This Is Sparta!" is a phrase from a scene in the film uttered by Gerard Butler, playing the character King Leonidas. The scene where Leonidas and his guards kick the Persian messengers has been parodied online and in TV shows, and the "This is..." meme has earned its place in internet history.
9. Seems Legit
"Seems Legit", short for "seems legitimate", is a sarcastic phrase used ironically in a situation that involves something not legitimate, such as a false statement or pirated goods. The phrase is used on parody demotivational posters and image macros.
Pusheen is an animated gif webcomic series about a grey tabby cat. So popular are the comics that there is now a line of merchandise that you can purchase and creator Clare Belton has released a book of the kitty's comics.
11. They're Taking the Hobbits to Isengard
"They're Taking the Hobbits to Isengard" is a music remix video of the scene from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers featuring Orlando Bloom as Legolas, where Aragon asks Legolas, "What can your elf eyes see?" Legolas' answer is used throughout the song. Although the meme was first uploaded in 2005, it is one of the most enduring memes on the internet and saw a revival in 2013 when director Peter Jackson uploaded a video of Bloom singing along with the original meme video, while on the set of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
12. Grumpy Cat
People on the internet just want to look at cats, clearly. Grumpy Cat is a nickname given to an angry-looking cat called Tardar Sauce. Photos of the cat were posted to Reddit in September 2012 and the images have gone viral ever since with photoshopped parodies and image macros.
The owner now runs a website selling Grumpy Cat merchandise and Nestle Purina PetCare hired the famous cat as an official "spokescat" for the brand in September 2013.