What are Emoticons?

Emoticons are ASCII glyphs originally designed to show an emotional state in plain text messages. Over time they have turned into an art form as well. In most cases, emoticons are constructed to be viewed by tilting your head left so the right side of the emoticon is at the bottom of the “picture.” These simple emoticons have, over time, merged with artwork produced as ASCII characters. This site does not catalog that. If interested, perform a Google search on the term “ASCII art” and you should find multiple sites that host such collections.

Stop Note: Some programs allow you to type in text and a graphic emoticon shows up. This does not apply here. The emoticons here are emoticons you type in. Nothing more. Please don’t ask how to “activate” them; there is nothing here to activate.

Near as any research can pinpoint, the emoticon was invented by Scott E. Fahlman on 19 September 1982 in a message posted on Carnegie Mellon University bulletin board systems. Fahlman is quoted as saying “I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers: :-) . Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use :-(.” [For more on this story see Fahlman's own pageWeb Link on the subject (with thanks to C.S. for the link).]

As you can see from the full list on this site (which is likely only a small percentage of the totality of emoticons) there are hundreds (thousands?) but only a very few are commonly used. Those are shown on this page. Most of the common ones involve some form of smile or frown giving emoticons the secondary name “smilies.”

Don’t overdo if you use emoticons. Over one in a paragraph and three in a message are a good indicator you are a “newbie.”

If not already shown that way, emoticons are best viewed using a monospaced font. Your browser should have the option for this if they don’t already show up that way.

Please note: The nature of the internet has always been an “anything goes” type of culture. A few of the emoticons in the collection are meant to be suggestive by design. You have to use your imagination, but be warned nevertheless. None of these emoticons were created by Computer Knowledge; they have only been collected from various other sources and cataloged here.

Common Emoticons

  •  :-)  Basic smiley face; used for humor and sometimes sarcasm
  •  :-(  Basic frowney face; used for sadness or anger
  •  ;-)  Half-smiley or winkey face; more often used for sarcasm
  •  :-/  Wry face; used for wry humor

Alphabetical (by Emoticon) List

CKnow used to display the full list on this page but have decided to stop here and make you click on another link if you wish to view the entire list of around 1,900 entries. If all you wanted to know was what emoticons are then you now have that information. If you need the entire list then it is in a text file linked here. Note: This list is not being actively maintained.