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How To Make Emoticons on a Keyboard

Updated on July 12, 2019
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Mary loves discovering new things and enjoys sharing these ideas with readers through her articles.

Confusing Emoticons

Isn't it funny, you reach a certain age, my age, and it seems everyone knows something you don't. This is what happened to me with smiley faces. I see them everywhere on the internet. They pop up on emails, on Facebook, and even here on Hubpages.

I struggled to try and make them and thought to myself, am I the only one that has this problem? Not only did I struggle to make them, often there was a series of symbols that I just found confusing. What did they mean? Was this some sort of modern day hieroglyphics ?

I knew I had to use my anthropological skills to discover the true meaning.

Eyes, mustache, smile
Eyes, mustache, smile
Eyes, tear, nose, sad mouth
Eyes, tear, nose, sad mouth

What are Emoticons?

What is an emoticon you might ask? This is a portmanteau of the words emotion and icon. They are the smiling, winking and frowning icons we see on the internet. These are used to express emotion using the keys on your keyboard. Some sites such as Facebook, Yahoo, and Messenger will change what you type into a smiley or the appropriate face. Below you will see a list of current ones, but definitely not a complete list, because the list is ever expanding.

The icon is rotated 90° so that the eyes are on the left. If you still can't see it, lean your head to the left and all will be revealed.


  • The colon represents two eyes.
  • The semicolon; this is a wink.
  • The equal sign = again two normal eyes.
  • The number 8 can indicate two eyes or glasses.
  • The capital B indicates someone with glasses.
  • The letter X will be if the eyes are squeezed shut.
  • Using an apostrophe ' below the eye is meant to represent a tear.

NOSE The nose is sometimes left out completely without changing the significance. If you choose to use a nose you can use the following:

  • The hyphen - is the most common symbol for the nose.
  • The number zero 0 or a lowercase o is used but less frequently.

Wink,nose smirk
Wink,nose smirk
Hair, eyes, nose, tongue sticking out
Hair, eyes, nose, tongue sticking out

How to Make a Mouth on the Keyboard


The mouth has several choices which is not unusual, just think how many expressions you can make with your own mouth. Here is a list:

  • The capital letter D. This is to signify a broad grim or a laugh.
  • The right parentheses ) this was the first to relate to something humorous.
  • The left parentheses ( this is something unhappy or sad.
  • The capital letter P this represents a mouth with a tongue hanging out. Think of someone blowing a raspberry.
  • The right parentheses twice )) expresses extra happiness.
  • The left parentheses twice (( expresses extra sadness.
  • The right square ] bracket means a smile and sometimes a smirk.
  • The left square [ indicates a frown.
  • The curly right bracket } after the mouth indicates a beard.
  • The curly left curly bracket { above the mouth indicates a mustache.
  • The mouth can also be forward or backward slash / or \. These indicate confusion or uncertainty.
  • The zero 0 and the letter o also can be used to express surprise or shock.
  • The letter x would mean a kiss.
  • The letter s means unsure, confusion or hesitant.
  • The number 3 can also be used as a mouth.

Other random usages

  • The more than sign > is often used as hair.

Short comprehsion quiz

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Why do People Use Them?

You may ask yourself why people use these smiley faces. Why can't they express themselves adequately in words and leave the symbols for some useful pieces of artwork.

Just as words have been abbreviated on text messaging, the humble email is also a source for these quirky little smiley faces . Language is not static, it is constantly changing. Perhaps in the years to come we will look back and smile at emails that contained emoticons.


The Man who Invented the Smiley Icon

A man by the name of Scott Fahlman was the first to suggest the use of a happy or sad face using the keyboard. The reason for this was whilst posting on an online notice board, he realized humor and sarcasm weren't coming across as they should. When people are face to face, you can normally tell if someone is joking or being sarcastic. This can be in their tone of voice, or in their mannerism. But without the aid of language or body movement, confusion can occur. Enter the :-) and the :-( .

Here is what was actually written that kicked this off.

9-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

Well there you have it. That was the start of something that changed the way so many people communicate now.

© 2012 Mary Wickison


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