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Emoticons: Online Body Language

By Sue Boettcher

Since there's no body language online, sometimes people in chat or on bulletin boards will add what are called "smilies" to their text lines, or narrate their actions.

Whether you see a lot of these or not depends on what kind of chat you're in. If it's a serious business chat, or a serious topic, there will probably be fewer. If it's a fun chat, expect to see many!

To narrate an action surround your action with colons, like this:

    ::sharing my chocolate with Nancy::

or by using an arrow pointing back to your name:

    <---sharing my chocolate with Nancy

Smilies are little faces which help show when you're being sarcastic or silly, happy or sad.

Here's a list of some of the most common smilies you'll run across. Tilt your head to the left to see the face.

    :) - two eyes and a mouth
    :) = smile
    :D = smile/laughing/big grin
    :* = kiss
    ;) = wink
    :X = my lips are sealed
    :P = sticking out tongue
    {} = a hug
    {{{{{}}}} = a big hug
    :( = frown
    :'( = crying
    O:) = angel
    }:> = devil

People also will abbreviate phrases in order not to have to type them out every time. Here are some of the most common shorthands you'll see:

    LOL = Laughing Out Loud
    ROFL = Rolling on [the] Floor Laughing
    ROTF = Rolling On The Floor [Laughing]
    AFK = Away From Keyboard
    BAK = Back At Keyboard
    BRB = Be Right Back
    TTFN = Ta-Ta For Now!
    WB = Welcome Back
    GMTA = Great Minds Think Alike
    BTW = By The Way
    IMHO = In My Humble Opinion
    WTG = Way To Go!

Just for fun, here's an [exhaustive] list of all a jillion smilies, 95% of which you'll never see. But if you're into this stuff, they're kind of fun to look at.

    (-: User is left handed
    %-) User has been staring at a green screen for 15 hours straight
    :*) User is drunk
    [:] User is a robot
    8-) User is wearing sunglasses
    B:-) Sunglasses on head
    ::-) User wears normal glasses
    B-) User wears horn-rimmed glasses
    8:-) User is a little girl
    :-)-8 User is a Big girl
    :-{) User has a mustache
    :-{} User wears lipstick
    {:-) User wears a toupee
    }:-( Toupee in an updraft
    :-[ User is a Vampire
    :-E Bucktoothed vampire
    :-F Bucktoothed vampire with one tooth missing
    :-7 User just made a wry statement
    :-* User just ate something sour
    :-)~ User drools
    :-~) User has a cold
    :'-( User is crying
    :'-) User is so happy, s/he is crying
    :-@ User is screaming
    :-# User wears braces
    :^) User has a broken nose
    :v) User has a broken nose, but it's the other way
    :_) User's nose is sliding off of his face
    :<) User is from an Ivy League School
    :-& User is tongue tied.
    =:-) User is a hosehead
    -:-) User is a punk rocker
    -:-( (real punk rockers don't smile)
    :=) User has two noses
    +-:-) User is the Pope or holds some other religious office
    `:-) User shaved one of his eyebrows off this morning
    ,:-) Same thing...other side
    |-I User is asleep
    |-O User is yawning/snoring
    :-Q User is a smoker
    :-? User smokes a pipe
    O-) Megaton Man On Patrol! (or else, user is a scuba diver)
    O :-) User is an angel (at heart, at least)
    :-P Nyahhhh!
    :-S User just made an incoherent statement
    :-D User is laughing (at you!)
    :-X User's lips are sealed
    :-C User is really bummed
    :-/ User is skeptical
    C=:-) User is a chef
    @= User is pro-nuclear war
    *<:-) User is wearing a Santa Claus Hat
    :-o Uh oh!
    (8-o It's Mr. Bill!
    *:o) And Bozo the Clown!
    3:] Pet smile
    3:[ Mean Pet smile
    E-:-) User is a Ham radio operator
    :-9 User is licking his/her lips
    %-6 User is braindead
    [:-) User is wearing a walkman
    (:I User is an egghead
    <:-I User is a dunce
    K:P User is a little kid with a propeller beanie
    @:-) User is wearing a turban
    :-0 No Yelling! (Quiet Lab)
    :-: Mutant Smile
    The invisible smile
    .-) User only has one eye
    ,-) Ditto...but he's winking
    X-( User just died
    8 :-) User is a wizard
    C=}>;*{)) Mega-Smile... A drunk, devilish chef with a toupee in an updraft, a mustache, and a double chin
    :-` smile spitting out its chewing tobacco
    :-1 smile bland face
    :-! "
    :-@ smile face screaming
    :-#| smile face with bushy mustache
    :-$ smile face with it's mouth wired shut
    :-% smile banker
    :-6 smile after eating something sour
    :^) smile with pointy nose [righty]
    :-7 smile after a wry statement
    :-* smile after eating something bitter
    :-& smile which is tongue-tied
    :-0 smile orator
    (:-( unsmiley frowning
    (:-) smile big-face
    ):-) "
    ):-( unsmiley big-face
    )8-) scuba smile big-face
    =:-) smile punk-rocker
    =:-( (real punk rockers don't smile)
    :-q smile trying to touch its tongue to its nose
    :-e disappointed smile
    :-t cross smile
    :-i semi-smile
    :-o smile singing national anthem
    :-p smile sticking its tongue out (at you!)
    :-[ un-smiley blockhead
    :-] smile blockhead
    :-{ smile variation on a theme
    :-} ditto
    {:-) smile with its hair parted in the middle
    }:-) above in an updraft
    :-a lefty smile touching tongue to nose
    :-s smile after a BIZARRE comment
    :-d lefty smile razzing you
    g-) smile with pince-nez glasses
    :-j left smiling smile
    :-k beats me, looks like something, tho.
    :-: mutant smile
    :-\ undecided smile

    :-| "have an ordinary day" smile ;-) winking smile
    :-< real sad smile
    :-x "my lips are sealed" smile
    :-c bummed out smile
    :-v talking head smile
    :v) left-pointing nose smile
    :-b left-pointing tongue smile
    :-/ lefty undecided smile
    :-? smile smoking a pipe
    .-] one-eyed smile
    ,-} wry and winking
    0-) smile Cyclops (scuba diver?)
    :-=) older smile with mustache
    :u) smile with funny-looking left nose
    :n) smile with funny-looking right nose
    :< midget unsmiley
    :> midget smile
    }:^#}) mega-smile: updraft bushy-mustached pointy
    nosed smile with a double-chin
    :-) ha ha
    ~~:-( net.flame
    |-) hee hee
    O |-) net.religion
    |-D ho ho
    :-> hey hey
    8 :-I net.unix-wizards
    :-( boo hoo
    :-I hmm
    E-:-I net.ham-radio
    :-O uh oh
    >:-I net.startrek
    :-P nyah nyah
    3:o[ net.pets
    |-P yuk
    :-} beard
    :-{ mustache
    :-# braces
    :-X bow tie
    :-Q smoker
    <:I dunce
    (:I egghead
    @:I turban
    8-) glasses
    B-) horn-rims
    8:-) glasses on forehead
    :-8( condescending stare
    ;-) wink
    >:-< mad
    ---<--{(@ Its a Rose!
First Published 1999, Updated January 2003 to add additional resources.

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