Emoticons EmojisIf you’ve used the internet, received text messages, or engaged in any other form of electronic communication, it’s highly likely that you’ve run across the existence of emoticons.

Emoticons started out as representations of facial expressions, making use of punctuation and alpha-numeric characters available on the common keyboard, and have since evolved into an extensive, varied collection of graphical representations of… just about everything, really.


The word “emoticon” is a combination of the two words “emotion” and “icon”, which is as accurate a summary as could be found!

The two most basic smiley-face :-) and frowny-face :-( emoticons were first suggested on a message board in 1982, and gained traction quickly after that.

The most common emoticons are “western style”, characterized by eyes on the left side, which often requiring a head-tilt for interpretation.


Emojis are Japanese-style emoticons named by combining the Japanese word “e” (meaning “picture”) with the word moji (meaning “character”).

Emojis are similar to emoticons in their usages, but are characterized by their straight-up representations that do not require a head-tilt, such as -_- as a squinting face, and ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ as a person shrugging.

Cheat Sheet

I put together a cheat sheet to help you interpret some of some of the most common emoticons (and a few emojis).

If you are a mailing list subscriber you will have received it already, and if not, you’re welcome to subscribe at any time.

For a more extensive list of emojis that are common to most social-media platforms, check out this online cheat sheet.

Cheat Sheet

Emoticons and/or emojis are great assets in many ways, as they can lend meaning to simple sentences and set the tone of a conversation. :-P

They can, however, be over-used, at which time they become a distraction and an annoyance, so watch out for that! O-O <_< :-$ >_<