Urban Legend definitions
Below is a growing list of words and phrases that are often used in speaking or writing about Urban Legends. If you would like to suggest an alternate or new definition, please feel free to contact me via the Feedback Page
A phrase that appears to explain the meaning of an acronym (or a word that some claim began as an acronym), but which was invented after the word or acronym was first used. Also known as a ‘Retronym’.
Urban Legend fans and researchers often talk about encountering one story or another ‘in the wild’. This generally means that they encountered the story while it was still in circulation and that it was being communicated in a form in which the audience is encouraged to believe that the story is true.
A meme is a term that is most often used to describe an idea or pattern of behaviour or belief that is shared, often spontaneously, between the members of a culture or group. An Internet Meme is simply a meme that is usually shared via the Internet, using web pages, email, online chat and so on. A meme is also something that is easy to believe or remember, or an idea that can easily bridge the gap between different people despite having had different life experiences.
A popular way of referring to Urban Legends. The terms ‘Urban Myth’ and ‘Urban Legend’ can be used pretty much to replace each other, however in a more academic sense the term ‘Urban Legend’ is thought to be a more accurate name for the collection of folkloric stories and beliefs that these terms attempt to describe. The most common reason for this is that a Myth is more properly a tale with a religious purpose that attempts to explain an element of the natural or spiritual world (so, you might encounter the term ‘Creation Myths’ when reading about a historical culture’s religious beliefs – these would be the stories that that culture believed explained how the world and the universe came into being), while a Legend is most often a story that is told as definitely having happened, which contain some or many elements that demonstrably didn’t take place.
A variant is literally a different version of something. In the study of folklore it’s most often used to talk about a version of a story or tale that has some elements in common with other variants, as well as some elements that also make it unique or different.