Don't miss an insight. Subscribe to Techopedia for free.



What Does Emoticon Mean?

An emoticon is some representation of an emotion using
digital icons. The first emoticons were made of ASCII text characters. Newer
emoticons as used on popular modern messaging platforms are engineered and
graphically designed icons rather than collections of text characters.


Techopedia Explains Emoticon

The use of emoticons goes all the way back to the 1800s, where people began to use numbers as shorthand for various types of emotions in Morse code. The use of the letters “x” and “o” to represent hugs and kisses in the print era is also an example of the origin from which emoticons sprung.

The use of the first smiley face emoticons in the digital world is attributed to a computer scientist named Scott Fahlman who helped to popularize them in the 1980s. After the origin of the smiley face emoticon, expressed with a colon and right-hand parenthesis, other emoticons developed, including the big wide grin represented by a colon and capital D, and a sad face, presented by a colon and left-hand parenthesis.

In the early 21st century, Unicode emoticons, also called “emojis” were introduced that are based on key commands referencing a set of drawn icons. On modern mobile devices and in other current technologies, the spectrum of emoticons has widened to include things like animal faces, culinary instruments, botanical icons, and the now famous “smiling pile of poo.”


Related Terms