<chat> /ee-moh'ti-kon/ An ASCII glyph used to indicate an emotional state
in electronic mail or news. Although originally intended mostly as jokes,
emoticons (or some other explicit humour indication) are virtually required
under certain circumstances in high-volume text-only communication forums such
as Usenet; the lack of verbal and visual cues can otherwise cause what were
intended to be humorous, sarcastic, ironic, or otherwise non-100%-serious
comments to be badly misinterpreted (not always even by newbies), resulting in
arguments and flame wars.
Hundreds of emoticons have been proposed, but only a few are in common use.
:-) "smiley face" (for humour, laughter,
friendliness, occasionally sarcasm)
:-( "frowney face" (for sadness, anger, or upset)
;-) "half-smiley" (ha ha only serious); also
known as "semi-smiley" or "winkey face".
:-/ "wry face"
These may become more comprehensible if you tilt your head sideways, to
the left. The first two are by far the most
frequently encountered. Hyphenless forms of them are
common on CompuServe, GEnie, and BIX; see also
bixie. On Usenet, "smiley" is often used as a
generic term synonymous with emoticon, as well as
specifically for the happy-face emoticon.
The emoticon was invented by one Scott Fahlman on the CMU bboard systems on
1982-09-19. He later wrote: "I wish I had saved the original post, or at least
recorded the date for posterity, but I had no idea that I was starting something
that would soon pollute all the world's communication channels." GLS confirms
that he remembers this original posting, which has subsequently been
retrieved from a backup.
As with exclamation marks, overuse of the smiley is a mark of loserhood! More
than one per paragraph is a fairly sure sign that you've gone over the line.
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