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 email) — compare emoji

Examples of emoticon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Her tweet was accompanied by an emoticon of a broken heart. Emily Sweeney, BostonGlobe.com, "Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez mourns loss of Eastern Standard," 23 Feb. 2021 Jake Funk, who was held out of Saturday’s game at Indiana for issues related to last month’s COVID-19 outbreak, reacted to the news with a broken heart emoticon. Edward Lee, baltimoresun.com, "Maryland football out of running for Big Ten title game after Saturday’s game at Michigan canceled," 2 Dec. 2020 For those who are unfamiliar, the yellow emoticon currently has downturned eyes and wears a white mask. Dalvin Brown, USA TODAY, "Apple is making the mask Emoji look happier during the pandemic," 7 Oct. 2020 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

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

Cite this Entry

“Emoticon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emoticon. Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for emoticon



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)

More from Merriam-Webster on emoticon

Nglish: Translation of emoticon for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of emoticon for Arabic Speakers

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