Antedatings of "image macro"

Hugo hugovk at GMAIL.COM
Wed Sep 11 08:11:56 UTC 2013

"image macro" (ATNW: 25 January 2007, Urban Dictionary: 26 August 2005, Know Your Meme: 12 February 2004)

("Among the New Words" devoted to Internet memes (American Speech, Vol. 86, No. 4, Winter 2011, pp. 454-479) )

I've found a 25 August 2001 in a FAQ, and a possible May 2001.



A macro is originally a computing term as a single instruction that could expand automatically into several instructions, like a shortcut to save the programmer typing effort. This computing term is still in use.

The Something Awful forum allowed their users to type in pre-defined words in square brackets, and the software would automatically expand it to show a certain image. For example, typing the [img-timeline] shortcut would show a Timeline of History image in the posted message. [img-hooray] and [img-blownaway] would show early examples of more familiar-looking images.


25 August 2001. An archived version of the Something Awful FAQ lists some other image macros:

What were the various image macros?
[img-timeline] - Note that there were dozens of variations of this one. Things were added before "You Are Here" such as "Birth of Finagler" (replacing "Birth of Black Jesus" after he admitted that he was 30 years old) and "Olsens Twins release first porn" slightly after "NOW". Other interesting variations included a back to the future style "split" timeline which had "Our 1985" and "Alternate 1985 where Biff stole sports almanac and owns Hill Valley." Using this image for any reason is REALLY FUCKING ANNOYING and should not be done. It's now common to post the timeline for timeline, since it's old. This starts a giant timeline posting loop which consumes the entire forum in a giant timeline black hole.
There were more but I don't remember them. Sorry.

The same document has this in the glossary:

Aces!: Usage: "Aces, another fucking foo thread!" Basically just, "Oh look, another thread about foo!" This started with an image macro which displayed "ACES! ANOTHER FUCKING ZERO WING THREAD!", used whenever someone posted a thread about AYBABTU.

Image macro: "Canadian Maniac always posted the same image in response to almost any thread. It was 'Can't Stop The Music' and was a still from a VHS of some guy dancing or some shit. Lowtax publicly asked if we thought he should be banned if he continued it. Most said they didn't mind, or thought it was funny. I thought it was funny, but of we all knew course R-Lo could do whatever the flying fuck he wanted, as it is his server and his bandwidth. Basically everyone said they did not mind the repeated image.

"About two days later Lowtax announced Macro Images, and for 2 fucking weeks every post was responded to with I'm Blown Away, [img-timeline], and a whole bunch of other annoying shit. Finally someone started a thread complaining that Macro Images were annoying and should be discontinued, to which Lowtax basically said, 'NO SHIT, YOU MEAN IT IS FUCKING ANNOYING WHEN THE SAME STUPID IMAGE IS POSTED AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN IN RESPONSE TO EVERY MOTHERNUNFUCKING THREAD????'" (Psycho Donut Killer)

[img-foo]: See Image Macro. A list of official [img-foo]s are above, but any common image that's used often can replace foo. [img-motorcycle.jpg] for instance.

By the 2 February 2002 capture, this had been appended to the image macro definition:

Now, the term Image Macro refers to any frequently used image, usually with text proclaiming "YOU SUCK AT THE INTERNET!" or something.


May 2001?

In May 2012 I researched "image macro" on English Language & Usage ( ) and had linked to a SA 'post with two "non-gif image macros" from May and August 2001'; however the post now requires paid, archives access. I can't remember exactly, but I wrote "non-gif image macros" with quotes, so I think the term appears like that on the page:


22 October 2001:

Here's an accessible thread titled "Ill advised image macros never intended for use":


25 September 2001, Here's an early use outside SA, in 3D Realms Forums:

That would make such a good image macro, could i use it sometime?


There's bound to be earlier examples in the Something Awful archives, including the announcement of the Macro Images feature.


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