Etymology
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mime (n.)

c. 1600, "a buffoon who practices gesticulations" [Johnson], from French mime "mimic actor" (16c.) and directly from Latin mimus, from Greek mimos "imitator, mimic, actor, mime, buffoon," a word of unknown origin.  In reference to a performance, 1932 as "a pantomime," earlier (1640s) in a classical context: The ancient mimes of the Italian Greeks and Romans were dramatic performances, generally vulgar, with spoken lines, consisting of farcical mimicry of real events and persons.

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mime (v.)

1610s, "to act without words," from mime (n.). The transferred sense of "to mimic, to imitate" is from 1733 (Greek mimeisthai meant "to imitate, portray," in art, "to express by means of imitation"). Meaning "to pretend to be singing a pre-recorded song to lip-sync" is by 1965. Related: mimed; miming.

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mimic (n.)

"one who or that which imitates, a mime," 1580s, from Latin mimicus, from Greek mimikos "of or pertaining to mimes," from mimos "mime" (see mime (n.)).

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mimesis (n.)

in rhetoric, "imitation or reproduction of the words of another," especially in order to represent his character, 1540s, from Greek mimēsis "imitation, representation, representation by art," from mimeisthai "to mimic, represent, imitate, portray," in art, "to express by means of imitation," from mimos "mime" (see mime (n.)). In zoology, "mimicry," by 1845.

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mimeograph (n.)

1889, "type of copying machine that reproduces from a stencil," invented by Edison, from Greek mimeisthai "to mimic, represent, imitate, portray" (from mimos "mime, imitator;" see mime (n.)) + -graph. A proprietary name from 1903 to 1948. The verb meaning "to reproduce by means of a mimeograph" is attested by 1895. Related: Mimeographed; mimeographing.

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mimosa (n.)

genus of leguminous shrubs, 1731, coined in Modern Latin (1619) from Latin mimus "mime" (see mime (n.)) + -osa, adjectival suffix (fem. of -osus). So called because some species (including the common Sensitive Plant) fold leaves when touched, seeming to mimic animal behavior. As the name of a yellow color like that of the mimosa flower, by 1909. The alcoholic drink (by 1977) is so called from its yellowish color.

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mimic (adj.)

"acting as a mime, practicing imitation, consisting of or resulting from mimicry," 1590s, from Latin mimicus, from Greek mimikos "of or pertaining to mimes," verbal adjective from mimeisthai "to mimic, represent, imitate, portray," in art, "to express by means of imitation," from mimos "mime" (see mime (n.)).

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mimetic (adj.)

1630s, "having an aptitude for mimicry," from Greek mimētikos "imitative, good at imitating," from mimētos, verbal adjective of mimeisthai "to mimic, represent, imitate, portray," in art, "to express by means of imitation," from mimos "mime" (see mime (n.)) Originally of persons, of animals or plants by 1851. Related: Mimetical (1610s); mimetically.

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pantomime (n.)

1610s, "mime actor, one who expresses meaning by action, not words," from Latin pantomimus "mime, dancer," from Greek pantomimos "actor," literally "imitator of all," from panto- (genitive of pan) "all" (see pan-) + mimos "imitator" (see mime (n.)).

The original sense is archaic or obsolete. The meaning "drama or play without words," in which the plot is expressed by mute gestures, is recorded by 1735. The English dramatic performances so called, usually produced at Christmas and with words and songs and stock characters, are attested by this name from 1739; said to have originated c. 1717. Related: Pantomimic; pantomimical.

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meme (n.)

"an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture," 1976, introduced by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in "The Selfish Gene," coined by him from Greek sources, such as mimeisthai "to imitate" (see mime (n.)), and intended to echo gene.

We need a name for the new replicator, a noun that conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. 'Mimeme' comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like 'gene'. I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme. If it is any consolation, it could alternatively be thought of as being related to 'memory', or to the French word même. It should be pronounced to rhyme with 'cream'. [Richard Dawkins, "The Selfish Gene," 1976]

Digital Age sense of "an image or snippet of video or text considered witty or incisive that is spread widely and rapidly by internet users" is by 1997.

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