What is a meme coin?

In order to understand what a meme coin is, you must first understand what a meme is.

What’s a meme?

The term “meme” was introduced in 1976 by British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his book, The Selfish Gene.

He needed a noun to describe the concept of the transmission of an idea and initially toyed with the Greek word “mimeme“, meaning imitation. But he wanted a shorter word similar to the English word “gene” and came up with “meme“.

Today, a meme is defined as a “funny image, video, or text that is copied (often with slight variations), that is spread rapidly and widely by interest users, usually through social media.”


In other words, a meme is an online joke.

So a meme coin is a cryptocurrency based on an online joke.

There are folks who would go further and say that a meme coin isn’t really an actual cryptocurrency but simply an online joke disguised as a cryptocurrency. 🤣


Meme coins were basically created to provide some laughs for the crypto community. A more appropriate name for these coins would be “joke coins” since they’re supposed to be “a joke” and have no utility, which means they should be worthless. 

But if you had bought certain meme coins early enough, you’d be laughing all the way to the bank since you would’ve made millions.

What are popular meme coins?

The crypto community must be huge dog lovers because the biggest meme coins are dog-themed.

Dogecoin (DOGE)

Dogecoin (DOGE)

Dogecoin (DOGE) is the original meme coin. It’s based on the “doge” meme, which originated with a photo of a Shibu Inu dog.

It was “created” by Jackson Palmer and Billy Markus, in 2013, as a joke to mock the crypto industry due to all the altcoins that were being launched at the time. They took the source code of Litecoin, made some tweaks, and rebranded it as “Dogecoin”.


Dogecoin’s supply was originally capped at 100 billion coins but was later changed to have an unlimited supply

The funny part was that people started taking it seriously as a cryptocurrency and an online community of enthusiasts quickly formed around Dogecoin. There are now more than 2.3 million members on the r/dogecoin subreddit.

Supporters are known as the Dogecoin Army, who celebrate their own holiday, “Doge Day“.

Dogecoin’s popularity was further boosted by famous billionaires, Elon Musk and Mark Cuban, tweeting about DOGE.  With all this attention, Dogecoin’s price surged and become one of the ten largest cryptocurrencies!

Shiba Inu (SHIB)

Dogecoin’s success quickly attracted copycats. While Dogecoin (DOGE) was the original meme coin, other dog-themed cryptocurrencies emerged as challengers to outshine the original.

Dogecoin’s biggest “rival” is Shiba Inu (SHIB).

Shiba Inu (SHIB)

It was launched in August 2020, by an anonymous founder (or group) who goes by the name “Ryoshi”. The primary goal was to literally challenge DOGE as it proclaimed to be “the dogecoin-killer” on its website.

Shiba Inu is an ERC-20 token built on top of the Ethereum blockchain. This differs from Dogecoin which runs on its own native blockchain. Due to the fact that SHIB is built on top of Ethereum and has smart contract capabilities, it technically has a lot more use cases than DOGE, which basically acts like Bitcoin for jokesters.


Shiba Inu skyrocketed in popularity when Elon Musk tweeted about his dog, saying, “My Shiba Inu will be named Floki.” 

SHIB even briefly overtook DOGE as the “top dog” in October 2021.

What’s the difference between meme coins and cryptocurrencies?

Meme coins are actually cryptocurrencies. The biggest difference is that meme coins attract a lot more attention due to their association with celebrities and online influencers.

They also tend to have a large and passionate (crazy?) community behind them similar to a global sports team. Meme coins have proven to their haters to never dismiss the power of a loyal fan base.

DOGE and SHIB are the two largest meme coins, but on CoinMarketCap, there are over 200 meme coins listed.

You’ll notice most have similar characteristics:

  • They have a huge circulating supply, often in the quadrillions. “Circulating supply”  in crypto is the total number of coins that are currently available for trade and are circulating in the market.
  • Due to such a huge circulating supply, most meme coins are priced way below $1…in fractional pennies. For example, SHIB’s price is $0.00002692.
  • Such a “low” price is what makes meme coins attractive to a lot of crypto traders. They can own thousands, even millions, of a meme coin and then dream that the meme coin’s price will go up by 1,000x or more.

This is the real appeal of meme coins. Imagine owning 10 million coins that you bought for $100, at the price of $0.000001 each. Then waiting for the price to rise to $1. You’d have $10 million!

Meme Coin Bro

Don’t be fooled though and start dreaming about riches. Prices of meme coins are extremely volatile, and many of them have fallen 90% or more, especially if they end up being “shitcoins”.


There have been examples of shady folks who create new coins, but hold all or most of the supply. They then promote it heavily online as a meme coin in order to attract buyers so they have someone to dump these worthless coins.