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ARCHIVED: What do :-) and other emoticons mean?

The  :-)  notation is known as a smiley, and means that the statement it follows was intended as humor. When you tilt your head to the side, you see that  :  is the eyes,  -  the optional nose, and  )  is the mouth.

This notation is often used in email, text messages, and other postings to communicate emotional context that would otherwise be lost or unclear. A statement meant to be humorous might be found offensive if taken seriously, and thus punctuation such as the smiley is used to avoid misinterpretation.

Many other similar symbols are used to convey emotion; see Wikipedia's List of emoticons. Common ones include:

Emoticon Emotion Interpretation
:) or :-) Happy This was a joke.
;) or ;-) Happily winking I'm pulling your leg.
:P or :-P Sticking out tongue "Nyahh" or "Bleh".
:D or :-D Open-mouthed grin I'm delighted!
:( or :-( Unhappy I'm sad about this.
:~( Crying I'm VERY sad about this.
:-| Unemotional I'm less than thrilled.
>:-( Very unhappy I'm upset!
8-) Wide-eyed happiness This surprised me.
:-O Shouting I'm yelling, and likely upset!
8-O Wide-eyed shouting I'm even more upset!
>8-O Mad wide-eyed shouting Now I'm really angry!
|-| Asleep Zzzzzz...
==|:-) Silly I'm Abraham Lincoln (top hat).

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Last modified on September 15, 2010.

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