emo·​ti·​con | \ i-ˈmō-ti-ˌkän How to pronounce emoticon (audio) \
plural emoticons

Definition of emoticon

: a group of keyboard characters (such as :-)) that typically represents a facial expression or suggests an attitude or emotion and that is used especially in computerized communications (such as e-mail) — compare emoji

Examples of emoticon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Otherwise basic pieces include embroidered-on kitschy phrases or emoticons, at not-so-cheap prices. Eliza Huber, refinery29.com, "J.Crew Files For Bankruptcy," 4 May 2020 Sending Facebook hugs just got easier, thanks to this new emoticon. Arlene Martinez, USA TODAY, "In CA: A Who's Who of Golden State leaders will help reopen California," 18 Apr. 2020 Angry emoticons There are many similar customer complaints on Art Van's Facebook page. Jc Reindl, Detroit Free Press, "New hope for Art Van customers who paid, but didn't get merchandise," 9 Apr. 2020 Hundreds of people sent neon-colored heart emoticons in an endless stream. Sylvia Poggioli, The New York Review of Books, "Pandemic Journal, March 23–29," 29 Mar. 2020 This was likely the first emoticon, a kind of emotional shorthand that emerged in online communications to compensate for the loss of in-person tonal clues (facial expressions, gestures, and so forth). Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Never mind the naysayers: Emoji are a vital part of online communication," 1 Dec. 2019 Would a message authored by Spears really feature an emoticon smiley, when history has demonstrated her preference for emoji? New York Times, "When Britney Spears Posts on Instagram, a Thousand Conspiracies Flower," 12 June 2019 Those doodles began to make their way into internet writing with the advent of the first emoticon, : - ), in 1982, and then went on to blossom into the vast expressive form of emoji. Constance Grady, Vox, "The internet has changed the way we talk. In Because Internet, a linguist shows us how.," 2 Aug. 2019 The first use of smiley faces, often composed of a colon, dash and close parenthesis, now called emoticons, was in the 1960s. Sophia Kunthara, SFChronicle.com, "Who needs words when you have emoji?," 6 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'emoticon.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of emoticon

1987, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for emoticon

emotion + icon

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Time Traveler for emoticon

Time Traveler

The first known use of emoticon was in 1987

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Statistics for emoticon

Last Updated

19 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Emoticon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emoticon. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for emoticon


How to pronounce emoticon (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of emoticon

: a group of keyboard characters that are used to represent a facial expression (such as a smile or frown)

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More from Merriam-Webster on emoticon

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with emoticon

Spanish Central: Translation of emoticon

Nglish: Translation of emoticon for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of emoticon for Arabic Speakers

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