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Many incorrectly believe that “whom” is a form of “who” that pretentious people use when they want to sound smart. But if that were the case, then “whomst” would be even smarter, and “whomst’d” would be for absolute geniuses only. These two made-up words are sweeping the meme world this week.
Know Your Meme traces the “whomst” boom back to this Instagram post by b3pis, showing a guy getting happier as the form of “who” grows increasingly fancy:
Whomst has two primary meme-ological forebears. One is the “increasingly verbose” trope, where explanations become wordier as the meme goes on. This is also related to other jokey internet attempts to prove one’s intelligence, like “me, an intellectual”:
You: I love Suicide Squad
Me, an intellectual: I love the Academy Award nominated Grammy nominated Filmé Suicide Squad dir. David Ayer
— donnia (@fincherism) January 24, 2017
you: who up??
me, an intellectual: whomst uppeth?
— Enter SADmond (@thinxline) January 28, 2017
Whomst has its own version of this grid, showing a brain in three (or four) states of increasing arousal.
Here’s an example of the meme in action:
The implication is that smarter and more sophisticated people listen to better rappers. Even though J. Cole went platinum with no features, he’s getting the short end of the stick in this meme.
Let’s try another one:
This is a reference to the many, many, Revenge of the Sith memes that have been flooding Reddit this month: It ranks Chancellor Palpatine above Obi Wan, Anakin, and General Grievous, referring to them by their respective catchphrases.
And here’s the election 2016 version:
The “whomst” meme is new enough that it doesn’t have to be any good to get a laugh. As some have observed, the novelty alone is enough to make it funny:
“Whomst” also doesn’t need those brain images to function. It’s been around on Tumblr for some time as a text-only meme. An anonymous person sends a Tumblr ask wondering, “Whomst?” and the response comes back … “Y’AIN’T’D’VE.”
Yes, “y’aint” and its various forms are also a grammar meme that’s picking up steam this month.
Similar images are now everywhere on Tumblr, with fans of various entertainment franchises casting their favorite characters in the dominant “YAINT*” role. Fandoms as diverse as My Little Pony, Overwatch, and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure are represented:
Know Your Meme
Know Your Meme
Know Your Meme
Tumblr’s YAINT* takes a very different direction than the “whomst” of Reddit and Instagram, but they do have one thing in common: glowing laser eyes.
If you had to point to a big trend in the good memes of early 2017, that would be it. Perhaps it started with Gordon Ramsay‘s glowing eyes in the Lamb Sauce Located meme, or perhaps it was a case of independent discovery. Either way, glowing eyes are in this year.
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 nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.