Emoticon is a metacommunicative representation of a facial expression and is also known as an emotion icon. The intent is to enlighten the receiver or aid in the interpretation of the sender’s expression, feelings, or mood. It is a stylized photo of communication. As social media has become enamored in the lives of most humans, emoticons have evolved through technology and have played a pivotal role in electronic communication.

Emoticons offer a heightened range of tones, feeling, emotions and facial gestures and are used primarily for text messaging or cyber communication. The majority of emoticons are texted facial expressions that adds a specific emotion or feeling. The are several ways that emoticons are used: in web forums, during online chats, on social media networks, emails, and text messaging. It is not fitting to use them in a formal setting such as memos, proposals, business, resume’s, etc. Lucia Peterson explains the emoticon’s transition into emojis,

“The term itself first appeared in print in the New York Times in 1991; ten years later in 2001, it found its way into the OED, and a year after that, it was added to the Urban Dictionary. They evolved into emojis in Japan in the late ‘90s; then the Unicode standard helped them spread to the rest of the world in 2010, and the rest as they say… I mean, they’ve even got grammatical rules of their own now. No more are they mere punctuation; they’ve become a language unto themselves.”(5)

Emoticon in English is translated icon or emotion. Small corresponding images have replaced text emoticons, and certain intricate character combinations are only accomplished by using double-byte language. The Japanese have romanized it and renamed the phenomenon kaomoji. The use of emoticons date back to the 19th century and were commonly used in humor and casual writing. The first use of emoticons can be traced back to Scott Fahlman when he used and posted them in his original proposal to the Carnegie Mellon University computer science board in 1982. The emoticons were written with the eyes on the left and the nose and the mouth following :-). There was also a two character version :). Eventually, the emoticons were rotated and renamed ambigrams that were written with the hyphen for a nose. There are many variations such as a colon and left parenthesis to represent a sad mood or a combination of using a less than sign and a number three to make a heart. A broad grin was sometimes shown with the letters ‘x’ and’ during the letter ‘D’ alone signified laughter or extreme amusement.

The Japanese propagated a style of emoticons that could be read without one tilting their head (*_*). Unicode was eventually introduced and covered a range of emotions J. The Unicode version of emoticons are still used today and continues to evolve as technology improves.

Fred Shapiro is a researcher at Yale University and hinted that emoticons dated back to the 19th century. While they were vertical in nature, he explained that there was an example of emoticons way back then. He shared, “Some people do not notice emoticons without putting the noxe in.” Those of us with little noses are less beholden to the use of the hyphen as the nose.) But perhaps the typesetter was having fun. “Maybe he had his own little joke.” (3)

Intellectual property rights were complicated for Emoticons. In the year 2000, a patent was filed for a drop down menu for composing email messages with emoticons. This patent covered what is known as the ‘frowny’ emoticon:-( and by 2001, one was filed covering the method of sending emoticons was approved. By 2012, the Supreme Administrative Court in Finland ruled that emoticons could not be trademarked, a Russian entrepreneur claimed he was granted the trademark back in 2008. Below is a list of emoticons taken from Margaret Rouse.