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"There is no emoticon for what I am feeling!"

It's an online trope about using typing characters to represent symbols, often to show emotions or to punctuate a point. The format is usually a sideways face with the eyes on the left and the mouth on the right. Optionally there is a dash to represent the nose. Another format is an underline in the center for the mouth, and two things on the side for the eyes. The first type is generally more Western, while the second has a stronger Eastern (specifically anime) heritage.

The first documented use of the "smiley" and "frown" emoticons on the Internet (people had probably tinkered with them on typewriters in the past) was on the Carnegie Mellon University computer science general board September 19, 1982 at 11:44am EST by Scott E. Fahlman:


 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 usage and variations had spread to the ARPANET and Usenet. (The message shown here was thought Lost Forever before it was found 20 years later on some backup tapes.)

Message Boards often have pre-made pictures that replace the symbol you type. And of course there is Emoticon Wiki for more information.

Compare ASCII Art, Henohenomoheji, Image Macro.

Common emoticons:

Some common emoticons

  • Smile   :)     :-)     =)     =] ^‿^     ^u^     シ     :-]     :]     :-}     :}     c:     ^_^
  • Grin   :D     :-D     =D
  • Wink   ;)     ;-)     ^_~     ~_^     ^_-~♦ (if your alt key codes work)
  • Frown   :(     :-(     =(     =[     :c     :C
  • Shock   :O     :-O     =O     D:>     :U     o_o     O_O
  • Anger   >:(     >:-(     >=(     >:U
  • Rage   >:O     >:-O     >:C     D:<
  • Laughter   xD     XD
  • Unimpressed   v_v     =|     -_-     -___- (exaggerated)
  • Embarrassed   ^^;     >_>
  • Weirded out   @_@     O_o     _    ☉_☉     ◉_◉
  • Tongue-in-cheek   :P     :-P     =P     xP     XP
  • Crying:   ; ;    ;_;     QQ     Q_Q     T_T
  • Sadface:   :'(
  • Cringing:   >_<     >.<     ><
  • Confusion:   :s     :   
  • Heart:   <3
  • Disapproval:   ಠ_ಠ

Emoticons in works:

Anime and Manga

  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S Sound Stage X, Agito notes that she keeps trying to get Signum to use emoticons in her emails like Vita does.
  • Kang Ho-Ryang from Tower of God has a wing of energy that tells a lot about him. Whether he will move or attack, what he is thinking, and… shows his emotions through Emoticons.
  • One Yotsubato comic has Asagi draft Yotsuba into being "e-mail". She then tells her "You need an emoticon". Yotsuba's expression in the last panel is a dead-on visualization of the O____O emotion.
  • Emoticons show up all over the place in Pani Poni Dash!. One episode took place in the Edo period of Japan. Throughout the whole episode, the narrations reflect on the culture of society at the time, while showing real life Japanese style artworks where everyone's face is replaced by a 2chan emoticons. In another episode, Kurumi Momose tends to start sporadically cycling through numerous emoticons on her face when she's absolutely bewildered and confused about what everyone else is talking about.

Comic Books

  • Emoticon from Welcome to Tranquility has a face mask that shows his emotions through emoticons. He's the grandson of another villain called the Typist.
  • In Bluntman And Chronic, one of their enemies is a nerd-turned-supervillain Newsgroup who often speaks in emoticons.


  • In Virtuosity the main character locates the virtual serial killer in the training program through the clue left on the side of one building.

 Barnes: Semicolon; Parenthesis... Smiley face.

  • In Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, when Young Neil explains to Knives that Scott used to date her rock star role model Envy (Natalie) Adams, he response is an actual ":O" on her face. Complete with a computer "bloop" sound.


  • Dave Barry in Cyberspace has a helpful list of emoticons, some of which are real, most of which he made up, which includes:
    • :0WW "Person vomiting a series of Slim Jims"
    • :({8 "Person displeased with the results of their breast enhancement surgery"
    • :V:| "Person who cannot figure out why no one wants to talk to him, little suspecting there is an alligator on his head"
  • Will Schwalbe, co-author of "Send: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better," calls the exclamation point the "ur-emoticon."


  • The Hello! Project members each have their own emoticon used on 2ch.
  • Basshunter has an album called "LoL <(^^,)>"

Newspaper Comics


 Rat: Why do people that make rude, snarky comments on the internet always feel the need to end their comment with that dumb winking emoticon?

Goat: It means they're just teasing you. You know, just having some fun with you.

Rat: Well, that's stupid. And you're stupid for knowing that.

Goat: I'm stupid?!

Rat: ;-)

Pig: (pointing at Rat's Speech Balloon) Ha! Ha! Ha! Don't be mad...look!


Video Games

  • In Persona 3, MMORPG girl Maya (aka homeroom teacher Ms. Toriumi) sprinkles all her online dialogue with eastern/anime-style emoticons, particularly the Kirby dances.
  • In Killer 7, the bodyless thief Susie used emoticons throughout her speeches, including this one: (`曲´) to signify extreme frustration.
  • In .hack//G.U.:
    • NPCs native to the Netslum have Japanese-style emoticons for faces.
    • Emoticons also pop up in people's e-mails and dialogue, since they're trying to imitate how people on the internet actually type (surprisingly, the writers actually didn't do too badly at this).
  • Though not featured in actual in-game text, there is the title of Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness.
  • Used very often in the Golden Sun series by the characters. Emoticons range from happy, worry, and anger. Golden Sun Dark Dawn uses these again and adds some new ones, such as eye shifting, sighing, and sadness. At certain parts of the game, you can utilize some of these expressions (happy, joy, worry, and anger) to respond to a situation, which does nothing but slightly change the response from the characters in the scene.

Web Animation

  • In the Teen Girl Squad Valentimes[1] Day Special , when Cheerleader texts with the class president, she attempts to enter an emoticon that is supposed to look like a heart and a frontways cupid, looking like this: <B >KO)->. Unfortunately, the class prez doesn't get the text jargon, and when a Wireless Wizard shows up to chastise them for "texting from a few feet away", he complains the "cupid" looks more like a "USB dongle goblin".

 Class Prez: Whattaya mean, I'm less than B?


Web Comics


 T-Rex: I got one that was like "I am really sad :((((((" and it's sort of a bizarre emphasis that entirely divorces a smiley from its own visual iconography. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

  • After reading this Beaver and Steve strip, you will have to use the emoticon Q-Q somewhere.
  • Castora, God of the Beach in Keychain of Creation, uses a smiley emoticon. In real life. The Rant helpfully informs us "Yes, gods can totally pronounce emoticons."
  • In Homestuck, many of the trolls incorporate their horns or abnormal eyes into their emoticons. For example, Aradia has 0_0, Tavros has }:), Karkat has O:B, Vriska has
), Nepeta has
33, Feferi has 38), Terezi has >:? and Gamzee has
o). Doc Scratch, of all people, has 8^y.
    • Also emoticons for the quadrants of troll romance: <3, <3<, <>, and c3<.
  • In Living With Monster Girl, Dullahan's body "speaks" in emoticons when the head is away.

Western Animation

  • In an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Shake discovers text messaging and announces his messages accordingly:

  Shake: LOL, IMHO, colon, paranthesis!

  • In Adventure Time, when Beemo gets his controller taken away by a Door Lord, his screen promptly shows the "D:" emoticon.

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