Icon vs. Meme: What's the Difference?
An "Icon" is a representative symbol or revered figure, while a "Meme" is an idea, behavior, or style spread virally within a culture.
An Icon generally refers to a symbol or image representing a specific function or application.
In contrast, a Meme is an element of culture, usually a humorous image or video, which is spread rapidly online.
Religiously, an Icon can mean a depiction or image of a deity or saint venerated by believers.
A Meme, on the other hand, doesn't have religious connotations and is typically shared for entertainment or to express shared experiences.
From a graphical user interface perspective, an Icon is a small graphical representation of a program or file.
Yet a Meme in digital contexts denotes a viral trend that people adapt and share across social media platforms.
Historically, individuals regarded as iconic might have possessed qualities that left a lasting impact on a culture or society.
Conversely, a Meme, especially in modern contexts, might have a shorter lifespan, echoing contemporary societal quirks or fads.
In the world of fashion or pop culture, an Icon might be an individual who has made significant contributions or changed the landscape of that domain.
Whereas a Meme in similar contexts could relate to a moment, phrase, or trend popularized and spread by internet users.
A representative symbol or revered figure.
An idea or style spread virally in culture.
Common in religious, digital, and cultural realms.
Typically found online and on social media.
Often static and enduring.
Dynamic, evolving, and potentially short-lived.
Can be ancient or modern.
Mostly a modern internet phenomenon.
Symbolizes applications, concepts, or ideals.
Echoes cultural moments, jokes, or trends.
Icon and Meme Definitions
A religious painting or image, especially in Eastern Christian traditions.
The Icon of Saint Nicholas is venerated in the church.
A cultural item or idea spread rapidly through the internet.
The dancing baby was an early internet Meme.
Someone who is very successful and admired.
Madonna is often considered a pop Icon.
A unit of cultural information spread by imitation.
The Keep Calm and Carry On slogan became a popular Meme.
A small picture or symbol on a computer screen representing a program or function.
Click the camera Icon to access the photo app.
A humorous image, video, or text shared online.
The cat's funny reaction became a viral Meme.
A symbol representing a specific function or concept.
Click on the trash bin Icon to delete the file.
An element of behavior passed from one person to another by imitation.
The ice bucket challenge was a charitable Meme that swept the internet.
An image; a representation.
A fad or trend amplified by online sharing.
The dab dance move turned into a widespread Meme.
A representation or picture of a sacred or sanctified Christian personage, traditionally used and venerated in the Eastern Church.
A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.
An important and enduring symbol
"The disposable lighter is an icon of the throwaway mentality that began to take shape in the years following World War II" (Susan Freinkel).
An image or short video clip, often accompanied by a humorous saying or popular catchphrase, that is transmitted virally, especially on social media.
One who is the object of great attention and devotion; an idol
"He is ... a pop icon designed and manufactured for the video generation" (Harry F. Waters).
A humorous saying or popular catchphrase that is transmitted virally, especially as a caption for such an image or video clip.
(Computers) A picture on a screen that represents a specific file, directory, window, option, or program.
(originally) Any unit of (originally cultural) information, such as a practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another in a comparable way to the transmission of genes.
An image, symbol, picture, or other representation usually as an object of religious devotion.
(Internet) Media, usually humorous, which is copied and circulated online with slight adaptations, such as basic pictures, video templates, etc.
A type of religious painting portraying a saint or scene from Scripture, often done on wooden panels.
(Internet) A specific instance of a meme, such as an image macro or a video, often with humorous superimposed text.
This meme generator lets you make your own memes by adding a caption to existing images, or by uploading your own image.
I'm always posting memes on the groupchat.
(by extension) A person or thing that is the best example of a certain profession or some doing.
That man is an icon in the business; he personifies loyalty and good business sense.
Something not to be taken seriously; a joke.
It's a meme degree, you know. Good luck getting a job from that.
Jogging is a meme.
(graphical user interface) A small picture that represents something.
Click the loudspeaker icon to configure audio settings.
A word, character, or sign whose form reflects and is determined by the referent; onomatopoeic words are necessarily all icons.
To create and use humorous memes.
An image or representation; a portrait or pretended portrait.
Netherlands whose names and icons are published.
To turn into a meme; to use a meme, especially to achieve a goal in real life.
To meme into existence
A sacred picture representing the Virgin Mary, Christ, a saint, or a martyr, and having the same function as an image of such a person in the Latin Church. The term is used especially for a highly stylized and conventionalized representation of a holy person, rich in symbolism and used in devotional services in many of the eastern Orthodox churches, especially the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches.
To joke around.
A symbol, especially a symbol whose form suggests its meaning or the object it represents.
A cultural unit (an idea or value or pattern of behavior) that is passed from one generation to another by nongenetic means (as by imitation);
Memes are the cultrual counterpart of genes
A graphical symbol for a data object whose form suggests the nature or function of the object; especially, such a symbol as viewed on the computer screen.
Any object of uncritical devotion.
The former congresswoman and Vice-Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro is still an icon to many party members.
An outstanding example of something which has come to represent the class of things to which it belongs; a paragon; used of persons as well as objects.
(computer science) a graphic symbol (usually a simple picture) that denotes a program or a command or a data file or a concept in a graphical user interface
A visual representation (of an object or scene or person or abstraction) produced on a surface;
They showed us the pictures of their wedding
A movie is a series of images projected so rapidly that the eye integrates them
A conventional religious painting in oil on a small wooden panel; venerated in the Eastern Church
A person or thing representing a larger group or idea.
The Statue of Liberty is an Icon of freedom.
Can an Icon become a Meme?
Yes, if an Icon is used humorously or resonates with internet culture, it can become a Meme.
Do Memes have a longer lifespan than Icons?
Generally, Memes have a shorter lifespan as they reflect temporary trends, while Icons often have lasting significance.
How do Memes spread so quickly?
Memes spread virally through social media and online sharing, while an Icon might not necessarily spread but is recognized widely.
What's the function of a desktop Icon?
A desktop Icon represents and provides access to a program or file, whereas a Meme conveys a cultural message.
Can a Meme be an Icon?
If a Meme achieves long-term recognition and significance, it can become iconic.
Is every internet Meme funny?
Not necessarily, while many Memes are humorous, some convey deeper messages or societal commentary, unlike Icons which primarily represent.
How are Memes created?
Memes often arise from shared cultural experiences, jokes, or online trends.
Are all Icons religious?
No, while some Icons are religious images, others can be digital symbols or revered individuals. Unlike a Meme, which is cultural and often secular.
Is every cultural Icon famous worldwide?
No, while some Icons are globally recognized, others may be specific to certain cultures, unlike Memes which often spread globally.
Written bySawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited bySumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.