Image macro

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Not to be confused with macro photography.
An image macro of Johann Sebastian Bach.

In Internet culture, an Image macro is an image superimposed with text for humorous effect.[1]

Etymology and usage[edit]

The term "image macro" originated on forum websites.[2] 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.[2] This in turn related 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".

Beginning in 2007, lolcats and similar image macros (a form of Internet phenomena) spread beyond the initial communities who created them and became widely popular.[1]


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.[citation needed] Exaggerated, intentional spelling errors are also used frequently for humorous effect.[citation needed]

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),[3] 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".[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rutkoff, Aaron (2007-08-25). "With 'LOLcats' Internet Fad, Anyone Can Get In on the Joke". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-02-13. 
  2. ^ a b "SAClopedia entry for "image macro"". Something Awful SAClopedia. Retrieved 2008-07-28. (registration required)
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Dwight Silverman (2007-06-06). "Web photo phenomenon centers on felines, poor spelling". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-04-01.