Etymology and usage
The term "image macro" originated on forum websites including that of Something Awful. The name derived from the fact that the 'macros' were a short bit of text a user could enter that the forum software would automatically parse and expand into the code for a pre-defined image, relating to the computer science topic of a macro, defined as "a rule or pattern that specifies how a certain input sequence (often a sequence of characters) should be mapped to an output sequence (also often a sequence of characters) according to a defined procedure."
Although they come in many forms, the most common type of image macro is a photograph with large text superimposed in Impact font, using all upper case letters and coloured white with a thick black outline. Exaggerated, intentional spelling errors are also used frequently for humorous effect.
One of the more famous image macros is "O RLY?" O RLY is often used on the internet as an abbreviation for the phrase "Oh, really?" Originally started with a snowy owl photograph (which is the classic O RLY image macro), it spread out over the Web quickly and was followed by other macros that convey a wide range of emotions. Another style of image macro that has amassed its own separate subculture is the "lolcat", an image combining a photograph of a cat with text intended to contribute humour. The text is often idiosyncratic and grammatically incorrect, and its use in this way is known as "lolspeak" or "kitty pidgin".
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- Rutkoff, Aaron (2007-08-25). "With 'LOLcats' Internet Fad, Anyone Can Get In on the Joke". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-02-13.
- "SAClopedia entry for "image macro"". Something Awful SAClopedia. Retrieved 2008-07-28.(registration required)
- Stephen Phillips (2006-01-18). "Internet Term of the Week". The Independent Tiger Weekly. Archived from the original on 27 January 2008. Retrieved 2007-08-06.
- Dwight Silverman (2007-06-06). "Web photo phenomenon centers on felines, poor spelling". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-04-01.