A lolcat (pronounced ) is an of one or more . The image's text is often and grammatically incorrect, and is known as lolspeak.
Lolcat is a of the abbreviation for and the word cat. A synonym for lolcat is cat macro or cat meme, since the images are a type of and also a well-known genre of . Lolcats are commonly designed for and other .
British portrait Harry Pointer created a series featuring cats posed in various situations in the early 1870s. To these he usually added amusing text intended to further enhance their appeal. Other notable early figures include and (using mounted animals) .
The first recorded use of the term "lolcat" is from the anonymous . The word "Lolcat" was in use as early as June 2006, and the domain name "LOLcats.com" was registered on June 14, 2006. Their popularity was spread through usage on forums such as .The News Journal states that "some trace the lolcats back to the site 4chan, which features bizarre cat pictures on Saturdays, or 'Caturdays'." Ikenburg adds that the images have been "slinking around the Internet for years under various labels, but they did not become a sensation until early 2007 with the advent of " The first image on "I CAN HAZ CHEEZBURGER?" was posted on January 11, 2007, and was allegedly from the website." Lev Grossman of Time wrote that the oldest known example "probably dates to 2006", but later corrected himself in a blog post where he recapitulated the anecdotal evidence readers had sent him, placing the origin of "Caturday" and many of the images now known by a few as "lolcats" in early 2005. The domain name "caturday.com" was registered on April 30, 2005.
The term lolcat gained national media attention in the United States when it was covered by , which wrote that non-commercialized of the sort are increasingly rare, stating that lolcats have "a distinctly old-school, early 1990s, feel to [them]". put them on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "Da cutest distractshun of da decaid? Y, lolcats of corse! We can neber haz enuf of deez capshioned pics of cuddlie kittehs." "Lolcat" was also a runner-up under the "Most Creative" category under the Word of the Year Awards, losing out to "Googlegänger".
In December 2014, the word lolcat entered the , appearing in its online version.A lolcat image using the "I'm in ur..." format
Lolcat is a composite of two words, "lol" and "cat". "" stands for "Laugh out Loud" or "Laughing out Loud"; hence, lolcats are intended to be funny and to include jokes. Lolcats images comprise a photo of a cat with a large caption characteristically set in a heavy font such as or . The image is, on occasion, for effect.
The caption generally acts as a encompassing a comment from the cat, or as a description of the depicted scene. The caption is from standard English spelling and grammar, featuring "strangely-conjugated verbs, but a tendency to converge to a new set of rules in spelling and grammar". The text parodies the grammar-poor stereotypically attributed to . Frequently, lolcat captions take the form of . Some phrases have a known source, usually a well-known , such as or , while others don't. The language of lolcats has also been likened to , however it draws on a variety of linguistic resources, not just the imitation of baby talk.
Common themes include jokes of the form "Im in ur [noun], [verb]-ing ur [related noun]." Many lolcat images capture cats performing characteristically human actions or appearing to use modern technology, such as computers.
There are several well-known lolcat images and single-word captions that have spawned many variations and imitations, including "Ceiling Cat" (see below). Others include (a cat with a slice of on its face) and "" (a portrait of a blue ). Another popular format is "[Adjective] cat is [adjective/noun]."
"Ceiling Cat" is a character spawned by the meme. The original image was an with a picture of a cat looking out of a hole in a ceiling, captioned "Ceiling Cat is watching you ." There followed numerous examples with the format "Ceiling Cat is watching you [verb ending in / rhyming with -ate]" with Ceiling Cat superimposed in the upper left hand corner of an image macro depicting the appropriate action. The underlying theme is that the cat is looking down on one, almost in a form of judgement. "Ceiling Cat" and the corresponding "Basement Cat" (a who lives in the basement) represent good and evil in the lolcat universe, and in some cases God and Satan, as in the .
Variations on the lolcat concept include captioning photos of other animals in a similar style (e.g. loldogs for dogs, etc.).
The syntax of lolcat captions was used as the basis for , an with interpreters and compilers available in , , etc.
In the game Minecraft, there is an option to change language settings to LOLCAT.
Another example is , which uses broken English, reminiscent of the lolcat meme.