15 Popular Codes For Smiley Faces & Their Meanings

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codes-for-smiley-facesSmileys represent the human face and all its possible expressions that correspond to our various moods. They have been around for decades, but the internet brought them real fame.

Online, smileys are a powerful way to transport emotions. The typographic smileys are generally known as emoticons. Placed with care and read with an eye for detail, they clarify the meaning of a statement and improve interpretation.

Meanwhile, chatters across the globe have developed a huge selection of emoticons and smileys on most instant messengers. If you always want to hit the right nerve and never pick the wrong expression, use our emoticon guide to popular codes for smiley faces.

Western Emoticons

Western emoticons are typically written from left to right. Here are 15 of the most popular ones.

1. Smile

: – )   or   :-]   or   :3   or   :> stands for happiness.

2. Grin

: – D   expresses great happiness or a victory.

3. Frown

: – (   or   :-c represents sadness or disappointment. The latter can also mean great sadness.

4. Wink

; – )   or   ,-)   or   *-) indicates a joke or double entendre in what was said.

5. Tongue

: – P   or   : – p     or   :-b is an emoticon to tease, often used as a joke.

6. Open mouth

:-O   or   : – () stands for surprise or shock.

7. Distorted mouth

: – / means skepticism, being annoyed or uneasy.

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8. Beaked lips

:-X   or   :-*   or   :-<> expresses a kiss, love and affection. But careful, this one can be ambiguous.

:-@   or   : – ) ~~ ( – :   or   : – )~~~~ stand for french kissing.

9. Sealed lips

:-X   or   :-# stands for embarrassment. Notice the ambiguity.

10. Halo

0:-) represents an angel or innocence and is often used in a playful manner.

11. Tear

:’-( shows a crying face and expresses sadness.

12. Horns

>:-)   or   >:-D is used to express evil.

13. Blank

: – | expresses boredom, but can also stand for no comment.

14. Spittle

:-p~~ represents drooling.

15. Arrow

>.>   or   <.<   or   >_>   or   <_< points the way in which to look. Technically, this is an eastern emoticon.

Eastern Emoticons

In contrast to western codes for smiley faces, eastern emoticons can be read without tilting the head. Here is a selection, which does not correspond to the previous one.

1. Smile for happiness

(^_^)   or   (^.^)

2. Open mouth for laughing or singing


3. Wink for joking

(`_^)   or   (^_~)

4. Closed eyes for sadness or sighing


5. Lowered head for bitterness or disappointment

(._.)   or   (,_,)

6. Sweat drop for nervousness or embarrassment


7. Big eyes for wonder (seriously?)

0.o   or   O_o

8. Beaked lips for a kiss

(^x^)   or   (^3^)

9. Blushing for embarrassment

^///^   or   >///<   or   o///o

10. Crossed out eyes for death


11. Tears for sadness and crying

(;_;)   or   (T_T)

12. Distorted eyes for pain, failure or frustration

(>_<)   or   (>.<)

13. Closed eyes and zzZ for sleeping

(-_-)zzZ   or   -_-zzZ

14. Headphones for listening to music

d^_^b   or   d-_-b

15. Distorted eyes for annoyance


There are many, many more emoticons to express every shade of emotion you can think of. You will find more western emoticons here and here. The latter also includes emoticons that represent celebrities and a list of available MSN and Yahoo! smileys. More eastern emoticons can be found here.

By the way, most chat clients automatically convert codes for text smiley faces to graphics. If you want to prevent this, there is a simple trick: simply type the characters in reverse order, for example (-: instead of : – ).

Do you use emoticons and did you come across different meanings of the ones mentioned above? Please share potential ambiguities with us!

Image credits: jaylopez

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23 Comments - Write a Comment



You’re forgetting the best emoticon for quiet frustration: %lt;^>-_-)



whoops, that was supposed to be <^>-_-)


yeah, same as this one in chinese.




d(^_^)b this also can be two thumbs up.

(-_-)/~ bye bye, waving handkerchief.



I’ve seen almost all of the Western style emoticons…but almost all of them are *more* common *without* the minus sign (hyphen).



And what is xD ?


it is the same as LOL.

“X” = eyes are closing.
“D” = mouth.



dude, no one use the noses XD


Thanks for mentioning Joe!!!

When I wrote the article I didn’t want to include both versions for each emoticon – with nose and without. So for the sake of completeness I went with including the nose and forgot to point out that it’s optional.

In fact, I don’t use the nose myself. ;)


No really. _No one_ uses the noses except old people who refer to guides like these. Noses look sarcastic. :)

George Worley

The noises as you call them as how they came into being. Get over it. On some sites that convert the characters into smiley faces only will convert those in their proper format



The best emoticon I’ve seen is :U
It’s hard to explain what it means, I’ve mostly seen it used when someone does something or says something obviously stupid, but doesn’t catch on for a few seconds. Though is it also somewhat analogous to “shoop da whoop.”


Ah, yes I know this one. To me it always looked like someone holding their hand in front of their mouth, to hide a chuckle.


Tandil Ajedrez

^^ is to use in many gamer for “lol” …


Oh yeah, I love that one!



Nice list.


Jersey Bob

Don’t forget the cat face:


Rick Stanley

I disagree about the noses. In fact my standard signature smiley is ;^) I was blessed with a slightly larger nose, thanks to my Grandfather.



Found these while perusing Japanese forums.


*hides face in emabrassment*



Very cool – I knew most of these, but some I was unsure of. Great reference list to keep around when chatting!



wow western emoticons fail.. XDD
and there’s always orz…



(*O*)/ I like this one alot. I use it all the time.



What about this one? I’ve seen this one a lot .-.

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