How Trump’s ‘covfefe’ gaffe rapidly infected every good meme of 2017

More than ever before, the meme culture of 2017 is a culture of remixing and recombining memes to create new #content. The meme-industrial complex that includes 4chan, subreddits like r/dankmemes, and derivative sites like iFunny is set up to assimilate any memeworthy news within hours, rapidly grafting it onto the successful memes of the past. On Tuesday night, it went to work on Donald Trump’s now-infamous “covfefe” Twitter typo.

“Covfefe,” as a nonsense word, is trivially easy to slot into any meme template you can think of, and that’s exactly what the internet did.

The Trump executive order meme is an obvious one:

donald trump executive order - trump covfefe memes simgasm/Reddit

But the trend spread to a whole range of recent hits, like “eyes on drugs“:

donald trump covfefe memes - eyes on drugs enjineer30302/Reddit

And the blue “nut button“:

trump covfefe meme - blue nut button Screengrab via thundercr0tch/Reddit

And the Whomst/”expanding brain” meme:

trump covfefe memes - expanding brain meme -topher/Reddit

Mocking Spongebob, the biggest meme of May, was an obvious choice:

mocking spongebob covfefe trump meme litstheshit/Reddit

But no meme, no matter how minor, was safe from the rapidly stretching tendrils of covfefe.

covfefe trump meme machine broken understandable airsofter253/Reddit

trump covfefe meme marvel comics spider-man sauron maxparker709/Reddit

Several factors combined to speed the spread of covfefe across the 2017 meme landscape. As a word that means nothing, it can replace the punchline of any meme, no context required. The work involved is almost zero: Just pick a meme and covfefe it.

Gordon Ramsay could locate the covfefe. Salt Bae could sprinkle it.

And because memes have become more template-based over time, dank #content creators were supremely prepared for a moment like this. The memes of 2017 tend to be multi-panel images with specific real-estate allocated for a punchline—think of Drake memes or the exploding brain, for example.

When Trump fell asleep with his phone in hand (or whatever happened to bring us “covfefe”) most of the work was already done. All the internet had to do was plug and play.

Jay Hathaway

Jay Hathaway

Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on,, and the Morning News.