Everybody knows that a meme is a humorous image, often with a funny caption. It's a bit harder to define dank meme, which is a subset of that medium that emerged around 2013 in Reddit and 4chan forums. The term differentiates the genre as different from image macros, and often is associated with internet inside jokes, overuse of the same formats, and some nonsensicality. As some people may know, dank may also refer to high-quality marijuana, and was used to mean "cool" by some stoners. The term dank was then ironically applied to the meme type to satirize lesser memes, and popularized by pro-Bernie Sanders groups in the 2016 primary season. The weed-related definition traces back to the 1980s, when drug slang started adopting the word for "moist" in a new manner. As a word, dank was first recorded around 1310 and is probably from an obscure North Germanic word, due to a synonym in Swedish dank, meaning "marshy spot".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.