Most Popular Emoticons and Their History

27 June 2023
Reading: 7 min

Emoticons, those cool face and action symbols, have become an integral part of online communication. They allow people to express their true mood without using words, bringing text to life. In this article, we’ll explore the difference between emoticons and emoticons, delve into the history of emoticons, and discover some of the most popular emoticons still in use today.

A brief history of emoticons

Emoticons have a rich history in computer-mediated communication, adding emotional context to text-based conversations. They originated in 1982 when Scott E. Fahlman proposed 🙂 and 🙁 to represent humor and sadness, respectively.

Most Popular Emoticons and Their History

Following Fahlman’s suggestion, emoticons quickly gained popularity on computer networks, bulletin boards, and online communities. Users began experimenting with different combinations of punctuation, letters, and numbers to express a wide range of emotions and expressions. This led to the evolution and expansion of emoticons as users across platforms and regions developed their own unique styles.

While Western-style emoticons such as :-), :-(, and 😉 became widely recognized and used, Japan introduced a distinct style known as “Kaomoji”. Kaomoji featured complex emoticons created by combining ASCII characters, adding a touch of creativity and complexity to emoticon art.

Most Popular Emoticons and Their History

With the rise of instant messaging and online chat platforms, emoticons found their natural home. Applications such as ICQ, AIM, and MSN Messenger played a pivotal role in popularizing the use of emoticons in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Users embraced emoticons as a way to effectively convey emotions and enhance their online conversations.

Although emoticons gained prominence in the late 2000s and early 2010s, there has been a resurgence of interest in emoticons in recent years. Users appreciate the simplicity, versatility, and nostalgic appeal of emoticons. They have adapted to modern platforms, with larger and more intricate designs being created and shared.

Most Popular Emoticons and Their History

Today, emoticons continue to be an integral part of digital communication across multiple platforms, including messaging apps, social media, and online forums. They provide a concise and expressive way to convey emotion, adding a human touch to text-based interactions in the digital age. The rich history and continued relevance of emoticons underscore their enduring importance in the realm of online communication.

What is the difference between emoji and emoticon

Emoticons play a crucial role in conveying nuanced meaning in written text across various online platforms. However, although they are used interchangeably, they have distinct differences. Emoticons, which come from the Japanese word “emoji” (e “picture” + moji “character”) meaning “picture character” are the more modern version of emoticons. Emoticons, on the other hand, were invented in 1982 and consist of punctuation marks, letters, and numbers arranged to form a pictorial icon that represents an emotion or sentiment.

Most Popular Emoticons and Their History

While emojis have gained popularity with their vibrant and colorful designs, emoticons still hold their own with their character-based smiley faces. Emoticons often need to be read sideways to understand their full effect, providing a level of complexity and creativity that emoticons may not offer. The evolution of emoticons has led to the creation of complex expressions such as ヘ( ^o^)ノ\(^_^) that convey meaning in unique ways.

Why do we need emoticons

Both emoji and emoticons serve as essential tools for conveying emotions in chat and messaging, providing a way to express feelings that words alone may not capture. However, it is important to note that they are generally considered more appropriate for casual and light-hearted contexts, rather than academic or professional settings that require a more formal tone.

While both emoticons and emojis serve the purpose of expressing emotions in digital communication, there are a few reasons why some users prefer emoticons over emojis:

  • Universality: Emoticons can be created using simple keyboard characters and are universally compatible across various platforms and devices. They can be used in any text-based medium, including chat apps, emails, and social media platforms, without relying on specific emoji support.
    Example: 🙂 versus 😀
  • Customization: Emoticons allow for greater customization and personalization. Users can create unique combinations using punctuation marks, letters, and numbers, enabling them to express their individuality and creativity.
    Example: <(^_^)> versus 😊
  • Artistic Freedom: Emoticons provide more flexibility in representing complex emotions or actions. Users can design elaborate and intricate emoticons to convey nuanced meanings that may not be possible with standard emoji sets.
    Example: ヘ( ^o^)ノ\(^_^ ) versus 🎉
  • Readability: Emoticons are often more readable and recognizable due to their simplicity and familiar character arrangements. They are easy to understand, even when viewed in different orientations or on devices with varying display capabilities.
    Example: 🙂 versus 😃
  • Historical Significance: Emoticons have a longer history, dating back to the early days of online communication. Some users appreciate the nostalgia and cultural significance associated with emoticons.
    Example: 😀 versus 😄

While emojis have gained popularity due to their standardized designs and visual appeal, emoticons offer a certain charm and versatility that resonates with users who prefer a more customizable and expressive approach to conveying emotions in their digital interactions. Ultimately, the choice between emoticons and emojis depends on personal preference and the specific context of communication.

Top-ranking emoticons

Emoticons have become an integral part of digital communication, allowing us to express a wide range of emotions and add a touch of creativity to our conversations. In this collection, we have compiled a selection of the most beloved and widely used emoticons across various platforms and messaging apps.

Popular Emoticons

¯_(ツ)_/¯ (Shrug)

( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) (Lenny Face)

ಠ_ಠ (Disapproval)

Table Flipping Emoticons

(╯°Д°)╯︵ /(.□ . )

ʕノ•ᴥ•ʔノ ︵ ┻━┻

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

Angry Text Emoticons




Animal Text Emoticons

(ᵔᴥᵔ) (Bear)

(=^ェ^=) (Cat)

ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ (Bear)

Happy and Excited Text Emoticons

ヘ( ^o^)ノ\(^_^ )

(. ❛ ᴗ ❛.)


WTF Text Emoticons

╮ (. ❛ ᴗ ❛.) ╭



“Just Deal With It” Text Emoticons




Handy Text Emoticons

( ͡?️ ͜ʖ ͡?️)✊


Food & Drink Text Emoticons

( ͝° ͜ʖ͡°)つY

( ˘▽˘)っ♨

( o˘◡˘o) ┌iii┐

Funny Text Emoticons

( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) ¯_(ツ)_/¯

̿̿ ̿̿ ̿̿ ̿’̿’\̵͇̿̿\з= ( ▀ ͜͞ʖ▀) =ε/̵͇̿̿/’̿’̿ ̿ ̿̿ ̿̿ ̿̿ ▄︻̷̿┻̿═━一

(づ。 ◕‿‿◕。) づ ̿’̿’\̵͇̿̿\з=( ͠° ͟ʖ ͡°)=ε/̵͇̿̿/’̿̿ ̿ ̿ ̿ ̿ ̿

Music Text Emoticons


(〜 ̄▽ ̄)〜 〜( ̄▽ ̄〜)

( ̄▽ ̄)/♫•¨•.¸¸♪


Both emoticons and emoticons have revolutionized the way people communicate in written text by providing a visual means to express emotions. From their humble beginnings as simple sideways smiley faces to the vibrant and diverse emoticons we know today, these symbols have become an integral part of our digital conversations, adding color, personality, and depth to our words. So the next time you use an emoticon or come across a quirky emoji, remember the rich history behind these expressive symbols.

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