Such Syntax, Much Meme: A Linguistic Analysis of Memes and Their Structural Syntax

Roll Safe

Meme Example

roll safe


Roll Safe is a captioned screenshot from the web series Hood Documentary. It is an image of actor Kayode Ewumi grinning while pointing to his temple. This mini documentary was uploaded on BBC Three’s Youtube channel on June 1st, 2016. Over a few months it gained a million views and made its first appearance as a meme via Twitter on November 16, 2016 by Twitter user @FootyHumor. It quickly caught on as an image that mocks poor decision making and critical thinking.


The format for this meme is top-bottom text. Observing its syntactic structure, it is commonly used with a null subject or the subject noun ‘you’ followed by an ‘if’ phrase. In other cases it might start with the adverb ‘when’ in a single text format.