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I am happy! :)
"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. (e.g.: ":)") Optionally there is a dash to represent the nose. Another format is an underline or period in the center for the mouth, and two things on the side for the eyes. (e.g.: "(‐'.'‐)") These are often called "Kirbies" by English speakers. The first type is generally more Western, while the second has a stronger Asian heritage, and was imported from Japanese textboards and popularized in the West on anime forums.

The first documented use of the "smiley" and "frown" emoticons on the Internet (people had 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.

In recent years, emoticons have been widely replaced by emojis in social media and texting, which are a Japanese import that presents pictograms to relate ideas and concepts.

For the Just for Fun page where you can make your own here. Our Forum also has an emoticon thread here.

Compare Emojis, ASCII Art, Henohenomoheji, Image Macro. Rage Comics are another popular way of communicating your emotions online.

    open/close all folders 

Common emoticons:

    Some common emoticons 
  • Smile :) / :-) / =) / =] ^‿^ / ^u^ / シ / :-] / :] / :-} / :} / c: / ^_^ / *_* / :> / <:
  • Grin :D / :-D / =D / |D
  • Wink ;) / ;-) / ^_~ / ~_^ / ^_-~♦
  • Frown :( / :-( / =( / =[ / :c / :C / :< / >:
  • Shock :O / :-O / =O / D:> / :U / o_o / O_O / :u
  • Anger >:( / >:-( / >=( / >:U
  • Rage >:O / >:-O / >:C / D:< / >:c
  • Laughter xD / XD
  • Unimpressed v_v / =| / -_- / -___- / :|
  • Embarrassed ^^; / >_>
  • Weirded out @_@ / O_o / _ /☉_☉ / ◉_◉ / 8(
  • Tongue-in-cheek :P / :-P / =P / xP / XP
  • Crying: ; ; /;_; / QQ / Q_Q / T_T
  • Sadface: :'(
  • Cringing: >_< / >.< / >< / X(
  • Confusion: :s / :/
  • Cat Smile: :3 / x3 / >:3
  • Heart: <3 ε>
  • Disapproval: ಠ_ಠ
  • Flipping the Table: (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻
  • Me Gusta/Lenny face: }:} / ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Emoticons in works:

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Death Note, Misa Amane sometimes has a heart emoticon after her words when she is speaking to Light.
  • Chapter 102 of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War reveals that Miko tends to use a gratuitous amount of emoticons and emojis when she texts.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers has one emoticon for every nation made by the fans. The Russia emoticon is probably the most popular and recognizable: (^し^) (or ( ^ J ^ ), alternatively).
  • Hifumi of New Game! uses those heavily, not only when she's using Groupware but also in some written materials, which annoys Kou as the latter finds the former using them in a tardy note.
  • 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.
  • Fans of Puella Magi Madoka Magica have popularized an emoticon of Kyubey's face like so: /人◕‿‿◕人\. This is usually coupled with his Catchphrase: "Want to make a contract?"
  • In Striker S Sound Stage X, Agito notes that she keeps trying to get Signum to use emoticons in her emails like Vita does.
  • One Yotsuba&! 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.

    Comic Books 
  • In Bluntman And Chronic, one of their enemies is a nerd-turned-supervillain Newsgroup who often speaks in emoticons.
  • 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.

    Comic Strips 
  • This strip of The Argyle Sweater has a wedding ceremony for a : and a ). One guest comments, "They seem so happy together!"
  • Pearls Before Swine:
    • This exchange:
      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!
    • There was a much earlier strip in which Pig kept adding them to his speech, much to Rat's chagrin, ending with Pig getting beaten up. Author Stephan Pastis mentioned in one of his treasuries (about this particular strip) that he finds emoticons extremely annoying.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Nowakverse (which not only takes place in The '90s, but Under the Bridge itself premiered in 1998), mice put the digit 8 before their emoticons in online conversation to identify themselves as mice.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Emoji Movie, emoticons are portrayed as the senior citizens of the emoji world, due to being the precursors to the emojis. Gene accidentally knocks ":)" ";P" and a wheelchair-bound ">:|" over near the beginning, making them spill their individual pieces. This leads to one of them groaning "My colon!"

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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 who is unhappy with the results of her breast enhancement surgery"
    • :V:| "Person who cannot figure out why no one wants to talk to him or her, little suspecting that there is an alligator on his or her 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."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Sheldon of The Big Bang Theory once recounted being particularly elated at a scientific discovery.
    Sheldon: In the world of emoticons, I was colon capital D. [demonstrates]

  • The Hello! Project members each have their own emoticon used on 2ch.
  • Basshunter has an album called "LoL <(^^,)>"
  • The third album of Electro Swing group, Caravan Palace, was titled <I°_°I> (AKA Robot or Robot Face).


    Video Games 
  • 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).
  • The assassin Zero from Borderlands 2 wears a full helmet which is never taken off, and so displays expression by way of giant projected emoticons.
  • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm is set in the Internet, so naturally many characters use these while speaking. Catie especially likes to end her sentences with them.
  • In Devil Survivor Yuzu uses emoticons in her e-mails that slowly decline in use as the week wears on.
  • The guards in Embric of Wulfhammer's Castle "speak" in Emoticons, but the Duchess (and just about everyone else) understands what they are saying. It's even parodied when the Duchess finds a guardsman who doesn't speak in Emoticons, calling him an imposter!
  • 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.
  • In Killer7, the bodiless thief Susie used emoticons throughout her speeches, including this one: (`曲´) to signify extreme frustration.
  • In Minecraft: Story Mode, the Big Bad of "Access Denied" uses emoticons or just symbols, given that it is a supercomputer.
  • Histoire from the Neptunia series frequently uses emoticons and emojis in her speech.
  • 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.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness is not an example, as the "XD" in the title is an acronym (eXtra Dimension). This doesn't stop some people from interpreting the title that way.
    • Ditto is officially based on a ":)" emoticon crossed with an amoeba.
  • Replicanti Incremental: The "???" (presumably Eternity due to the button's purple color scheme) tab only has ":)" in it as of version
  • Undertale:
    • The standard wink emoticon is practically a Verbal Tic for Aaron. ;)
    • In the best ending, Toriel discovers texting and invents an emoticon to represent her own face. ]: )
  • Terran Reapers from StarCraft II are equipped with KD8 cluster grenades for use against buildings. The designation makes an emoji of someone upset (the "D8") at being blown up (the "K").

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
  • In Little Busters!, there's a brief Running Joke that whenever Rin texts Riki (very rarely as she's terrible with technology), she always ends with a blank -_- emote. (As Riki points out, why bother using an emoticon to denote that you don't have an expression?) This gets a darker reprise later when Rin, away at the other school, sends Riki texts ending with crying TT_TT emotes and Riki knows that she wouldn't send that unless she were crying in real life, something she almost never does.
  • When Bat from Villainous Nights starts appearing in person, he wears a full-face mask that projects a variety of emoticons in place of facial expressions. He's very proud of it.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Teen Girl Squad Valentimesnote  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?

  • After reading this Beaver and Steve strip, you will have to use the emoticon Q-Q somewhere.
  • Dinosaur Comics:
    • T-Rex invents the "OGC" emoticon.
    • Not the only time that emoticon has shown up, either.
    • Exactly.
    • T-Rex explores what happens when people who use multiple question marks in emails try to apply this logic to emoticons:
      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.
  • Homestuck:
    • Many of the trolls incorporate their horns or abnormal eyes into their emoticons. For example, Aradia, a largely emotionless ghost, has 0_0; Tavros, with broad, bull-like horns, has }:); Karkat, with short, nubby horns, has O:B; Vriska, with her prominent spider motif, has ::::); Nepeta the Cat Girl has :33; Feferi, with her curved horns and goggles, has 38); Terezi, with pointed, straight horns, has >:]; and Gamzee the Monster Clown has :o). Doc Scratch, of all people, has 8^y.
    • Emoticons for the quadrants of troll romance: <3, <3<, <>, and c3<.
  • 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 Living With Monster Girl, Dullahan's body "speaks" in emoticons when the head is away. In Monster Musume, by the same mangaka, this gets carried over to Lala the dullahan.
  • Kang Horyang 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... showing his emotions through Emoticons.

    Web Original 
  • WHAT COLOR ARE YOU?: As part of the cutesy and innocent air that the quiz seeks to initially give off, all of its questions initially have a cute emoticon accompanying them, such as (❍ᴥ❍ʋ) and ※\(^o^)/※. The first question that lacks one, "Are you afraid", also marks the turning point for the quiz becoming much deeper and less light-hearted.

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventure Time, when Beemo gets his controller taken away by a Door Lord, his screen promptly shows the "D:" emoticon.
  • In an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Shake discovers text messaging and announces his messages accordingly:
    Shake: LOL, IMHO, colon, paranthesis!
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The fandom brought about the So awesome! /)^3^(\ emoticon.
    • Not to mention the /) bro-hoof (\. Or, better yet, underhanded: \) (/.


Video Example(s):


Talking to robo-bug

Uzi meets a robotic bug that can communicate through holographically displayed text and voice recognition, albeit with some flaws.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / MechanicalInsects

Media sources: