An emoticon (/ɨˈmtɨkɒn/) is a facial expression pictorially represented by punctuation and letters, usually to express a writer’s mood. Emoticons are often used to alert a responder to the tenor or temper of a statement, and can change and improve interpretation of plain text. The word is a portmanteau word of the English words emotion and icon. In web forums, instant messengers and online games, text emoticons are often automatically replaced with small corresponding images, which came to be called emoticons as well. Certain complex character combinations can only be accomplished in a double-byte language, giving rise to especially complex forms, sometimes known by their romanized Japanese name of kaomoji.

The use of emoticons can be traced back to the 19th century, and they were commonly used in casual and/or humorous writing. Digital forms of emoticons on the Internet were included in a proposal by Scott Fahlman of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in a message on 19 September 1982.[1]




The National Telegraphic Review and Operators Guide in April 1857 documented the use of the number 73 in Morse code to express "love and kisses" "<3 and :*" (later reduced to the more formal "best regards"). Dodge's Manual in 1908 documented the reintroduction of "love and kisses" as the number 88. Gajadhar and Green comment that both Morse code abbreviations are more succinct than modern abbreviations such as LOL.[2][3]

A New York Times transcript from Abraham Lincoln's speech written in 1862 discovered by Bryan Benilous contains ";)"; there is some debate as to whether it is a typo, a legitimate punctuation construct, or an emoticon.[4]

Emoticons published in the March 30, 1881 issue of Puck.

Typographical emoticons were published in 1881 by the U.S. satirical magazine Puck. In 1912 Ambrose Bierce proposed "an improvement in punctuation — the snigger point, or note of cachinnation: it is written thus \___/! and presents a smiling mouth. It is to be appended, with the full stop [or exclamation mark as Bierce's later example used], to every jocular or ironical sentence".[5]

Emoticons had already come into use in sci-fi fandom in the 1940s,[6] although there seems to have been a lapse in cultural continuity between the communities. In 1963 the "smiley face", a yellow button with two black dots representing eyes and an upturned thick curve representing a mouth was created by freelance artist Harvey Ball. It was realized on order of a large insurance company as part of a campaign to bolster the morale of its employees and soon became a big hit. This smiley presumably inspired many later emoticons; the most basic graphic emoticon that depicts this is in fact a small yellow smiley face.

In a New York Times interview in April 1969, Alden Whitman asked writer Vladimir Nabokov: "How do you rank yourself among writers (living) and of the immediate past?" Nabokov answered: "I often think there should exist a special typographical sign for a smile — some sort of concave mark, a supine round bracket, which I would now like to trace in reply to your question."[7]

Creation of :-) and :-(

The first person documented to have used the emoticons :-) and :-(, with a specific suggestion that they be used to express emotion, was Scott Fahlman;[8] the text of his original proposal, posted to the Carnegie Mellon University computer science general board on 19 September 1982 (11:44), was thought to have been lost, but was recovered twenty years later by Jeff Baird from old backup tapes.[1]

19-Sep-82 11:44    Scott E  Fahlman             :-)
From: Scott E  Fahlman <Fahlman at Cmu-20c>

I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers:


Read it sideways.  Actually, it is probably more economical to mark
things that are NOT jokes, given current trends.  For this, use


Within a few months, it had spread to the ARPANET[9] and Usenet.[10] Many variations on the theme were immediately suggested by Scott and others.

Graphical replacement

In web forums, instant messengers and online games, text emoticons are often automatically replaced with small corresponding images, which came to be called "Emoticons." Similarly, in some versions of Microsoft Word, the Auto Correct feature replaces basic smileys such as :-) and :-( with a single smiley-like character. Originally, these image emoticons were fairly simple and replaced only the most straightforward and common character sequences, but over time they became so complex that the more specialized emoticons are often input using a menu or popup windows, sometimes listing hundreds of items. Emoticons have also expanded beyond simple cartoon facial expressions to a variety of still or moving images. Some of these graphical emoticons do not actually represent faces or emotions; for example, an "emoticon" showing a guitar might be used to represent music. Further, some instant messaging software is designed to play a sound upon receiving certain emoticons.

Many applications use text codes, which become replaced with a graphical emoticon. For example, :dance: or (dance) could be replaced with a graphical dancing emoticon. The first web forum software package to perform this transformation was Proxicom Forum, developed in 1996.[citation needed]

An August 2004 issue of the Risks Digest (comp.risks on USENET) pointed out a problem with such features which are not under the sender's control:

It's hard to know in advance what character-strings will be parsed into what kind of unintended image. A colleague was discussing his 401(k) plan with his boss, who happens to be female, via instant messaging. He discovered, to his horror, that the boss's instant-messaging client was rendering the "(k)" as a big pair of red smoochy lips.[11]

Many sites use GIF or PNG graphic files, because of their transparency and small file size capabilities. Files can be created using a raster graphics editor. Many emoticon artists design their emoticons pixel by pixel. Some emoticons are made in vector format, such as SVG, and automatically processed using a graphics library. This allows SVG files to be automatically rendered as a GIF or PNG file, which is compatible with most browsers, as opposed to SVG, which is not.

Western style

Traditionally, the emoticon in Western style is written from left to right, the way one reads and writes in most Western cultures. Thus, most commonly, emoticons have the eyes on the left, followed by the nose and mouth.

Common western examples

The most basic emoticons are relatively consistent in form, but each of them can also be transformed by being rotated (making them tiny ambigrams), with or a without hyphen (nose). There are also some possible variations to emoticons to get new definitions, like changing a character to express a new feeling, or slightly change the mood of the emoticon. For example :( equals sad and :(( equals very sad or weeping. Similar to :(, using an A expresses a open mouthed frown; oAo. A :"> blush can be expressed as :"u blushing for you or a surprised blush, o///o . Others include wink ;) a grin :D [which can also be reversed for an unhappy face D: ] smug :-> and tongue out :P for disgust or simply just to stick the tongue out for silliness, such as when blowing a raspberry. An often used combination is also <3 for a heart, and </3 for a broken heart. A representation of a cat face can be expressed like this: :3 Along with a mustache emoticon  :{) A broad grin is often shown with crinkled eyes to express further amusement: XD and the addition of further 'D' letters can suggest laughter or extreme amusement e.g. XDDDD. There are hundreds of other variations including >:D for an evil grin or >:( for anger, which can be, again, used in reverse, for an unhappily angry face, in the shape of D:< .owo for a goofy grin, =K for vampire teeth, :s for confusion or >.< for eye-crinkling exasperation, and ;P for wanting to be more than friends. ;P can also be used to denote a flirting or joking tone, or may be implying a second meaning in the sentence preceding it.


An equal sign is often used for the eyes in place of the colon, without changing the meaning of the emoticon. In these instances, the hyphen is almost always either omitted or, occasionally, replaced with an 'o' as in =O . In most circles it has become acceptable to omit the hyphen, whether a colon or an equal sign is used for the eyes, e.g. :) .[12] In some areas of usage, people prefer the larger, more traditional emoticon :-) . In general, similar-looking characters are commonly substituted for one another: for instance, o, O, and 0 can all be used interchangeably, sometimes for subtly different effect. In some cases, one type of character may look better in a certain font and therefore be preferred over another.

Some variants are also more common in certain countries because of reasons like keyboard layouts. For example, the smiley =) is common in Scandinavia, where the keys for = and ) are placed right beside each other. Also, sometimes, the user can replace the brackets used for the mouth with other, similar shapes, such as ] and [ instead of ) and ( .

Diacritical marks are sometimes used. The letters Ö and Ü can be seen as an emoticon, as the upright version of :O (meaning that one is surprised) and :D (meaning that one is very happy).

Some emoticons may be written right to left as well, and in fact can only be written using standard ASCII keyboard characters this way round; for example D: which refers to being shocked or anxious.

Japanese style

Users from Japan popularized a style of emoticons that can be understood without tilting one's head to the left. This style arose on ASCII NET of Japan in 1986.[13][14] Similar looking emoticons were used by Byte Information Exchange (BIX) around the same time.[15]

These emoticons are usually found in a format similar to (*_*). The asterisks indicate the eyes; the central character, commonly an underscore, the mouth; and the parentheses, the outline of the face.

Different emotions such as (")(-_-)("), are expressed by changing the character representing the eyes, for example ' T ' can be used to express crying or sadness (T_T). The emphasis on the eyes is reflected in the common usage of emoticons that use only the eyes, e.g. ^^. Looks of stress are represented by the likes of (x_x) while (-_-;) is a generic emoticon for nervousness, the semicolon indicating sweat that occurs during anxiety. Repeating the /// mark (///) can indicate embarrassment by symbolizing blushing. Characters like hyphens or periods can replace the underscore; the period is often used for a smaller, "cuter" mouth or to represent a nose, e.g. (^.^). Alternatively, the mouth/nose can be left out entirely, e.g. (^^). The parentheses also can often be replaced with braces, e.g. {^_^}. Many times, the parentheses are left out completely, e.g. ^^, >.<, o_O, O.O, <.<;. o-o,e_e,e.e and/or owo. A quotation mark ", apostrophe ', or semicolon ; can be added to the emoticon to imply apprehension or embarrassment, in the same way that a sweat drop is used in popular and common asian animation.

Microsoft IME 2002 (Japanese) or later supports the use of both forms of emoticons by enabling Microsoft IME Spoken Language Dictionary. In IME 2007, it was moved to Emoticons dictionary.

Further variations of emoticons may be produced by using combining characters, e.g. ̼⌂̺͛ᴖ̲̿ᴥ̲̿ᴖ̺͛⌂̼ and ٩(͡๏̯͡๏)۶ .

Common eastern examples

For a complete list see: Eastern emoticons

Icon Meaning Icon Meaning Icon Meaning Icon Meaning

。◕ ‿ ◕。 (^▼^)

smile, happiness
(^o^)  :A
laughing out loud
headphones or listening to music;
Thumbs up!
sleepy person
\(^_^)/ \õ/
cheers, "Hurrah!"
(*^.^*) ^.^ *--*

(-_-') (-_-U) (-_-#) (-.-) (=.=) or (--')

sweating (as in exasperated) irritated,not amused
(?_?) or


Nonsense, I don't know, Or not always referring to that, also a sense of confusion
(^_~) or


(;_;) (T_T) (TT_TT) (T^T) (Q_Q) (Ç.Ç) (Ç_Ç) (v_v)
sad (crying face), T_T can also be used in a similar context as -.-
(o.O) or (o_O) or (o.o) or (o_o) or /)O_O(\
shocked, disturbed, stunned, raised eyebrow, neutral

why щ(゚Д゚щ)


shifty, suspicious; could also be sarcasm or irritation
(>'_')>O or (>'_')># or (>'_')>~(\\\)
"Have a cookie/waffle/drink from a cup with a spiral straw"
(O//o) (o//O) (>//<) (@//@)
blushing or shy or thinking something is cute

All of these can be used also with [ ] instead of ( ), or without the parentheses at all in some of the cases.

Korean Style

In South Korea, emoticons using Korean Hangul letters are popular as well. Korean styles of face emoticons are similar to those of Japan's, but they contain Korean jamos (letters) instead of other characters. There are countless number of emoticons that can be formed with such combinations of Korean jamos, but popular choices include letter ㅅ or ㅂ as the mouth/nose component and ㅇ,ㅎ,ㅍ for the eyes. For example: ㅇㅅㅇ, ㅇㅂㅇ, -ㅅ-, ㅡㅡ, ㅡ6ㅡ, ㄱㅡ,┐-. Faces such as 'ㅅ', "ㅅ", 'ㅂ','ㅇ', using quotation marks " and apostrophes ' are also commonly used combinations. Vowel jamos such as ㅜ,ㅠ can be used in substitute to T, when depicting a crying face. Example: //ㅅ//, ㅜㅜ, ㅠㅠ, 뉴뉴. Sometimes the underscore is omitted, and the two letters can be mixed together, as in ㅜ_ㅠ, ㅡ^ㅜ, ㅜㅇㅡ . Also, semicolons are used a lot in Korean emoticons. Example: ㅡㅂㅡ , ㅇㅅㅇ , ㅇㅁㅇ , ㅇㅂㅇ , ^ㅂ^ , ㅠㅅㅠ. Most often used ^^, ~_~, ㅜㅜ --zZ ㅋㅋ.

Western use of Japanese style

English-language anime forums adopted those emoticons that could be used with the standard ASCII characters available on western keyboards. Because of this, they are often called "anime style" emoticons in the English-speaking Internet. They have since seen use in more mainstream venues, including online gaming, instant-messaging, and other non-anime related forums. Emoticons such as <( ^.^ )>,<(^_^<),<(o_o<),<( -'.'- )>,<('.'-^), (>';..;')> which include the parentheses, mouth or nose, and arms (especially those represented by the inequality signs < or >) also are often referred to as "Kirbies" in reference to their likeness to Nintendo's video game character, Kirby. The parentheses are sometimes dropped when used in the English language context, and the underscore of the mouth may be extended as an intensifier, (e.g. ^______________^ for very happy) for the emoticon in question. This emoticon t(-_-t) uses the eastern style, but incorporates a depiction of the western "middle-finger flick-off (commonly known as 'the bird')" using a 't' as the arm, hand, and finger.

Mixture of Western and Japanese style

Exposure to both Western and Japanese style emoticons or emoji through web blogs, instant messaging, and forums featuring a blend of Western and Japanese pop culture, has given rise to emoticons that have an upright viewing format. The parentheses are similarly dropped in the English language context and the emoticons only use alphanumeric characters and the most commonly used English punctuation marks. Emoticons such as -O-, -3-, -w-, '_', ;_;, T_T, :>, and .V., are used to convey mixed emotions that are more difficult to convey with traditional emoticons. Characters are sometimes added to emoticons to convey an anime or manga-styled sweat drop, for example: ^_^' or !>_<! or ^3^' or v3v; as well as: <@>_________<@>;; ;O; and *u* The equal sign can also be used for closed, anime looking eyes, for example: =0=, =3=, =w=, =A=, =7=

There are also more faces along those lines like >o<; using the ; as a sweat mark, and the "o" as a mouth, and the inequality signs as the eyes, it shows stress, or slight confusion. The amount of emoticons that can be made are limitless, and all have their own meaning.

In Brazil, sometimes combining character (accent) are added to emoticons to represent eyebrows, like: ò_ó or ó_ò or õ_o or ù_u or o_Ô. They can also replace (or add) "=" or ":" by ">", example: >D or >=D or >P or >:P or >3 or >:3.

Ideographic style

The character 囧 (U+56E7), which means 'bright',[16] is also used in the Chinese computing community for a frowning face.[17] It is also combined with posture emoticon Orz, such as 囧rz. The character existed in Oracle bone script, but its use as emoticon was documented as early as January 20, 2005.[18]

Other ideographic variants for 囧 include 崮 (king 囧), 莔 (queen 囧), 商 (囧 with hat), 囧興 (turtle), 卣 (Bomberman).

The character 槑 (U+69D1), which means 'plum', is used to represent double of '呆' (dull), or further magnitude of dullness.[19] In Chinese, normally full characters (as opposed to the stylistic use of 槑) may be duplicated to express emphasis.

2channel style

The Japanese language is usually encoded using double-byte character codes. As a result there is a bigger variety of characters that can be used in emoticons, many of which cannot be reproduced in ASCII. Most kaomoji contain Cyrillic and other foreign letters to create even more complicated expressions analogous to ASCII art's level of complexity. To type such emoticons, the input editor that is used to type Japanese on a user's system is equipped with a dictionary of emoticons, after which the user simply types the Japanese word (or something close to it) that represents the desired emoticon to convert the input into such complicated emoticons. Such expressions are known as Shift JIS art.[citation needed]

Users of 2channel in particular have developed a wide variety of unique emoticons using obscure characters. Some have taken on a life of their own and become characters in their own right, like Mona.

Posture emoticons


Orz (also seen as Or2, on_, OTZ, OTL, STO, JTO,[20] _no, _冂○,[21] 囧rz,[18] O7Z, _|7O, Sto, O|¯|_, orz, and Jto[original research?]) is an emoticon representing a kneeling or bowing person, with the "o" being the head, the "r" being the arms and part of the body, and the "z" being part of the body and the legs. This stick figure represents failure and despair.[20] It is also commonly used for representing a great admiration (sometimes with an overtone of sarcasm) for someone else's view or action.[citation needed]

It was first used in late 2002 at the forum on Techside, Japanese personal website. At the "Techside FAQ Forum" (TECHSIDE教えて君BBS(教えてBBS) ), a poster asked about a cable cover, typing "_| ̄|○" to show a cable and its cover. Others commented that it looked like a kneeling person, and the symbol became popular. These comments were soon deleted as they were considered off-topic. However, one of the first corresponding reactions can be found on the thread on "Techside Chitchat Forum" (Techside一言板。) at the Wayback Machine, on December 23, 2002.[original research?] By 2005, Orz spawned a subculture: blogs have been devoted to the emoticon, and URL shortening services have been named after it. In Taiwan, Orz is associated with the phrase "nice guy"—that is, the concept of males being rejected for a date by girls they are pursuing with a phrase like "You are a nice guy."[20]

Orz should not be confused with m(_ _)m, which means "Thank you" or an apology.[citation needed]

Multimedia variations

A portmanteau of emotion and sound, an emotisound is a brief sound transmitted and played back during the viewing of a message, typically an IM message or e-mail message. The sound is intended to communicate an emotional subtext.[citation needed] Many instant messaging clients automatically trigger sound effects in response to specific emoticons.[citation needed]

Some services, such as MuzIcons, combine emoticons and Adobe Flash music player in a widget.[22]

In 2004, The Trillian chat application introduced a feature called "emotiblips", which allows Trillian users to stream files to their instant message recipients "as the voice and video equivalent of an emoticon".[23]

In 2007, MTV and Paramount Home Entertainment promoted the "emoticlip" as a form of viral marketing for the second season of the show The Hills. The emoticlips were twelve short snippets of dialogue from the show, uploaded to YouTube, which the advertisers hoped would be distributed between web users as a way of expressing feelings in a similar manner to emoticons. The emoticlip concept is credited to the Bradley & Montgomery advertising firm, which hopes they would be widely adopted as "greeting cards that just happen to be selling something".[24]

In 2008 an emotion-sequence animation tool, called FunIcons was created. The Adobe Flash and Java-based application allows users to create a short animation. Users can then email or save their own animations to use them on similar social utility applications.[25]

Emoticons and intellectual property rights

Patented drop down menu for composing phone mail text message with emoticons. US 6987991 

In 2000 Despair, Inc. obtained a U.S. trademark registration for the "frowny" emoticon :-( when used on "greeting cards, posters and art prints." In 2001, they issued a satirical press release, announcing that they would sue Internet users who typed the frowny; the joke backfired and the company received a storm of protest when its mock release was posted at technology news website Slashdot.[26] A number of patent applications have been filed on inventions that assist in communicating with emoticons. A few of these have issued as US patents. US 6987991 , for example, discloses a method developed in 2001 to send emoticons over a cell phone using a drop down menu. The stated advantage over the prior art was that the user saved on the number of keystrokes though this may not address the obviousness criteria.

In Finland, the emoticons :-), =), =(, :) and :( were trademarked in 2006 for use with various products and services.[27] The emoticon :-) was also filed in 2006 and registered in 2008 as a European Community Trademark (CTM).

In 2008, Russian entrepreneur Oleg Teterin claimed to have been granted the trademark on the ;-) emoticon. A license would not "cost that much - tens of thousands of dollars" for companies, but would be free of charge for individuals.[28]


Emoticons are introduced in Unicode Standard version 6.0. It covers unicode range from 1F600 to 1F64F.[29]

Unicode.org chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

См. также в других словарях:

  • émoticon — ● émoticon nom masculin (de l anglais emotion, émotion et icon, icône) Synonyme de smiley. ● émoticon (synonymes) nom masculin (de l anglais emotion, émotion et icon, icône) Synonymes : smiley …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • emoticon — e‧mo‧ti‧con [ɪˈməʊtɪkɒn ǁ ɪˈmoʊtɪkɑːn] noun [countable] COMPUTING one of a set of characters used to express feeling in writing, such as in an E Mail message. For example, the emoticon : > is used after a comment to show that the comment is… …   Financial and business terms

  • emoticon — emoticon, emoticón → emoticono …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

  • emoticón — emoticon, emoticón → emoticono …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

  • Emoticon — Emoticon: Das in der Bedeutung »Zeichenkombination, mit der in einer E Mail eine Gefühlsäußerung wiedergegeben werden kann (z. B. ↑ Smiley)« verwendete Fremdwort wurde gegen Ende des 20. Jh.s aus gleichbed. engl. emoticon übernommen, einem… …   Das Herkunftswörterbuch

  • emoticón — emoticón. m. Inform. emoticono …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • emoticón — o emoticono sustantivo masculino (en informática) icono, símbolo …   Diccionario de sinónimos y antónimos

  • emoticon — by 1994, apparently from EMOTION (Cf. emotion) + ICON (Cf. icon) …   Etymology dictionary

  • emoticon — /eˈmotikon, ingl. iˈməutikon/ [vc. ingl. comp. di emot(ion) «emozione» e di icon «icona»] s. m. o f. inv. (elab.) faccina, smiley …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • emoticon — The word is a blend of emotion and icon and denotes a representation by means of standard word processing keystrokes of a person s face (normally the writer s) expressing a particular emotion such as anger, fear, frustration, surprise, delight,… …   Modern English usage

  • emoticon — [n] keyboard symbol code, : ) emotag, smiley, winkey; concept 284 …   New thesaurus

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