from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A sideways facial glyph used in e-mail to indicate an emotion or attitude, as to indicate intended humor [ :-) ].

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A graphical representation, either in the form of an image or made up of ASCII characters, of a particular emotion of the writer.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a representation of a facial expression (as a smile or frown) created by typing a sequence of characters in sending email


emot(ion) + icon.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Blend of emotion and icon (Wiktionary)



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  • Possibly the world's earliest emoticon (from 1862) can be examined here.

    January 20, 2009

  • Emoticons for "e-kicking someone in the e-balls."

    September 3, 2008

  • There is no emoticon for what I am feeling.

    April 2, 2008

  • "An emoticon is a short sequence of keyboard letters and symbols, usually emulating a facial expression, that complements a text message. An abbreviation itself (of emotion icon), the term is sometimes referred to by the name of the original emoticon, the smiley. Mike Jones, who works in the systems and networking research group at Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Washington, has determined that the first smiley was posted on September 19, 1982."

    April 2, 2008