The term emoticon—a combination of the words emotion and icon—refers to a symbol or picture that a sender of electronic communications uses to express emotions. Emojis are an alternative form of emoticons that allow the sender to express a particular emotion in a variety of ways for more specificity. This entry reviews emoticons and emojis, as well as the background of each, and then discusses their use in pop culture and challenges to their popularity.


Emoticons can be static or animated. Static emoticons are more common in text-based messages, such as text messaging, and can be composed with a relevant combination of numbers, letters, punctuation marks, mathematical operators, and/or other special signs. For instance, the :-( emoticon reflects the sadness of the message sender, while the ...

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