Slang Misinterpretation refers to a genre of memes in which various slang expressions such as “based,” “let’s fucking go” and others are interpreted in their literal rather than slang sense, with various characters demanding further explanation. The trend gained popularity in early February 2020 following a viral Based on What? meme, with the images often being used to react to various slang expressions.


The exact origin of the meme is unknown, but is estimated to be early February 2020. The earliest meme containing the phrase, a photograph of a concerned man captioned “Based? Based on What?”, was posted by Amino user marshokuma (February 4th), Twitter user @BackToSquare1_ (February 6th) and iFunny user Mojinn (February 6th). On February 8th, 2020, iFunny user Viva made the earliest viral post of the image, gaining over 1,500 smiles in three months. A February 16th post by iFunny user Herne_the_Hunter received over 2,200 smiles.


On February 15th, 2020, iFunny user SavoirFaire posted the earliest known derivative of the meme, an image of YouTuber Jerma985 captioned in the same way (shown below, left). The post received over 2,300 smiles and prompted the further spread of the meme. For example, on February 19th, iFunny user Alfredo_Potato_Memeing posted a meme based on an image of Lucky Star character Kagami Hiiragi, gaining over 230 smiles in three weeks (shown below, center). On February 21st, iFunny user NyukNyuk posted a Goodfellas meme that received over 1,700 smiles in the same period (shown below, right).

These and other similar images received viral spread on Twitter, often used as a reply to users using the slang word “based.”

On March 13th, iFunny user CosmicRewind posted a meme based on a dialogue scene between the Breaking Bad characters Jesse Pinkman and Walter White (shown below). The post gained over 6,900 smiles in two months and received viral spread online in the following weeks, spawning edits of its own. For…

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