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Glossary - emoticon / smiley


I will try to explain the difference between an emoticon and a smiley. Some people believe these are the same, but they are absolutely not. You could use this page as a reference whenever you have this - damn, what was it again - feeling.

The fairy tale: somewhere in September 1982 a college student posted the following message on a Bulletin board. The smiley was invented. A small milestone in modern communication.
19-Sep-82 11:44    Scott E  Fahlman             :-)
From: Scott E  Fahlman <Fahlman at Cmu-20c>

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

:-(
Pretty cool, isn't it. A simple post on a board and you invented something that millions of people use and see every day. He should be a rich man.

As you can conclude in Scott's post, he defines the smiley as a character. So it is all very simple, a smiley is a group of keyboard characters that take on facial expression to express an emotion in text based communication.

The modern variant of the smiley is what we call an emoticon. Emoticons are graphical little images. Remember the keyword in the previous sentence, graphical.


The use of emoticons nowadays is very widespread. Every forum has it's own set of emoticons. The same goes with instant messaging programs as MSN Messenger, YIM, AIM, ICQ and dozens more.
Special programs have been developed to easily insert those fancy emoticons in emails. It's almost a whole industry.

If I make a summary of the text above it would be something like this:

Smiley Emoticon
Text character to express an emotion Graphical image to express an emotion

It's almost too simple, isn't it ;-).



- For those who are interested in reading Scott's post in his context, Microsoft has a back-up.
- I have a special website devoted only to MSN Messenger emoticons.



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