Meta has 2 meanings
1. What does it mean when something is meta?


Meta is when something, often a piece of art, refers back to itself. For example, a TV show about producing a TV show is meta.

The term comes from the Greek meaning of meta, which is "beyond" or "after." It's often attached to words to give them new meaning, like "metaphysics" and "metadata," but in the 2010s, the usage of the word evolved in pop culture to describe works of art, such as movies or books, that displayed an acute self-awareness of their medium.

Some examples of popular meta TV shows

  • Seinfeld - A show about a fictionalized version of comedian Jerry Seinfeld who is, in fact, a comedian
  • Community - A show about a community college students that subtly and not-so-subtly refers to other pop culture
  • 30 Rock - A show about the production of a live comedy show written by Tina Fey, who previously starred and wrote on, you guessed it, a live comedy show
  • The Simpsons - A cartoon that references everything from tv shows, movies, cartoons, even Edgar Allan Poe poems
  • Family Guy - Another cartoon that practically lambasts everything pop culture, and includes characters that look at the camera

While people mainly use it to describe works in pop culture, others may use it whenever anything comes full circle in a mind-blowing way. For example, you might think it's meta when you find out your grandmother held the same job in the same city you work in now.


That show was so meta
Yeah, it blew my mind when they had a whole show based on David Fincher's movies

Whoa, so meta

Related Slang


Updated January 4, 2022
2. What does meta mean in gaming?


Gamers use meta as an abbreviation for metagame. You're most likely to see this term pop up on gaming forums and in Twitch chat, as gamers discuss the state of a game's items, mechanics, and strategies - and how those factors influence their pre- and in-game decisions.

What is a metagame?

A metagame is often described as "the game outside a game" or "the game of playing a game." Those who metagame analyze a game's existing environment and strategies and then devise ways to counter those strategies, to give themselves a better chance to win. Typically, other players then devise counterstrategies for the counterstrategies, producing an ever-evolving metagame.

Gamers may also refer to a game's current established set of "best" strategies as "the metagame" or "the meta." For example, a Magic: The Gathering player may say "the meta's all aggro decks right now." In this case, the player means that all the current best-performing MTG decks, collectively referred to as "the meta," are aggressive decks.


I really want to ignore the meta and just play what I want
I mean, you can do that, but you'll probably lose a lot
Sometimes, the meta breaks down
Sometimes, the meta breaks down

Related Slang


Updated June 8, 2023

Meta definition by

This page explains what the slang term "Meta" means. The various definitions, examples, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the team.

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