The Smiley: A Breakthrough In Global Communications
Because you can't see the person who is sending you electronic mail you are
sometimes uncertain whether they are serious or just joking with you. About
14 years ago, Scott Fahlman, of Carnegie Mellon University, devised a scheme
for encoding and conveying one's feelings as small text "glyphs" to overcome
Look up at that strange thingie under the title of this page. Tilt your head
to the left to look at the arrangement of 3 commonly-used characters.
Don't they look like a smiling face? Thus, if someone sends you a message
that says, "Have you stopped cheating on your wife? :-) " you know they're
just joking. If somebody says "I need to talk to you :-( " be prepared
to have a problem shared with you.
The two original glyphs by Scott Fahlman were :-) and :-(
These quickly became known as the "smileys," or "smilies," and somewhat to
Scott's chagrin, emoticons. Since Scott posted his
first smiley proposal, many other
smileys have been devised by many others. Some smileys have shorter faces,
as in the case of :( and :)
The use of smileys caught on so quickly and spread throughout the world of
online communications with such universal acceptance that only the original
:-) and :-( have a pedigree.
At this point, we would like to say "Thank you" to Scott Fahlman. Without his
cooperation, this would be just another glyph list.
His Unofficial Guide to Smileys
This is a collection of the variations and mutations of the smiley which I
have collected during my many years of using electronic bulletin boards and,
of course, the Internet. This page is also a "jumpstation" which gives you
the chance to enjoy an ecclectic link through the World Wide Web to at least
one other Internet resource for each of the smileys!
The most commonly seen smileys ...
The following examples should help you get your feet wet! At this time, I
am only showing examples that can be made by using the ASCII characters common
to US-style keyboards. I will happily expand these pages using the
Character Set if I receive some good examples of non-US smileys.
Your basic smiley.
This smiley is used to inflect a
sarcastic or joking statement since we can't hear voice inflections through text. Or, it just
might represent how the sender is
Your basic southpaw smiley.
Many of the examples in this UNofficial FAQ can be modified to express that
the user is left-handed. Some of them, however, cannot be so adapted because of the
limitations of keyboards.
The "Winkie" or
This smiley can mean many things, so the context in which it is used is
important for its interpretation. Its user may havejust made a flirtatious
or sarcastic remark. This can be a type of a "don't hit me for what I just
said" smiley. It is often used to show remonstration
without malice toward the recipient.
The Frowning smiley. (Now that's an oxymoron!)
The user is disappointed or did not like that last statement and is now
expressing a pout; or, s/he is anxious, depressed or otherwise upset about something.
"I'm really sad."
Watch out for this smiley!
Angrily frowning, this one really means trouble!
"I'm indifferent about that" smiley.
Better than a pout but not quite as good as a basic smiley.
The user just made a really
biting, sarcastic remark - one which might require more than a mere
:-) to help the recipient recover.
"The Devil made me do it!" - Flip Wilson
Granny Smiley ...
I wonder if there's any apple pie in the refrig?
Variations ... Mutations ... &c
Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery ... And Scott's smiley
has certainly been imitated, cloned, mutated, and even abused by others who
have adopted his idea for emoting in their statements in e-mail, submissions
to mailing lists, news articles on Usenet, on pages on the Web, when using
text-based "talkers" (talk, IRC, MOOs and MUDs), and when posting messages to
BBS message subs. Smileys can be found in printed media - books, and articles
in newpapers and magazines - even when the subject is not about the
Now, you might know of some more abusive smileys that do not appear here.
Cool. But please do not submit them to me because I just do not care for them
and I use my delete key quite freely ;-)
Dazed and Confused
This user has been
staring at his monitor too long.
punk rockers don't smile.
(Mr. T from The "A-Team?")
This one's been in a fight.
This one's unconscious.
Also used to depict
This one's been flamed.
Tongue-tied ... or at
least has a definite slur in its speech.
This one's a deadhead.
Someone thinks you aren't "playing with a full deck" if they send this one to you.
Someone's saying they think you're braindead with this smiley.
Now, "You're being called a hosehead."
Right before your very eyes ...
Sunglasses on forehead.
glasses on forehead.
Wears horn-rimmed glasses.
Scuba diver smiley.
Megaton Man on Patrol!)
"I am the Walrus ..." koo-KOO-ka-CHOO!
Use this one when you've just made a monkey out of yourself.
... if it looks like a
... unless you think it looks like a cat instead.
The Monster Mash
Click here for 101 vampyre Web sites.
Vampyre with a
really nasty overbite.
Vampyre with a
broken fang; or,
a buck-toothed vampyre who sneezed and bit itself!
Wearing a bicycle helmet.
Chef, or baker.
A barbershop quartet.
"Honest Abe" smiley: Abraham Lincoln.
Sultan of Smiley;
Alladin; or, a real
Sugar & Spice & Everything nice ...
Orphan Annie smiley; a
Big girl smiley
... perhaps inspired by a famous
"girl" from the silver screen?
In your face smileys ...
My lips are sealed.
"Psst! Hey! Over here."
Snoring ... sound card required.
Smileys sporting bushy moustaches.
King Farouk ... van Dyke beard smiley ...
Smiley wearing a rug.
Same as above ... in an updraft
Jimmy Durante smiley
Having a long nose; or, lying. Also a smiley with nose broken to the left.
nose broken to the right.
Has foot-in-mouth disease.
Smiley a bad cold.
A case of acne.
Shaved off one eyebrow off
Same as above
A few more emotives ...
Ivy League school smiley.
Condescending. Curiously enough, also called the
Easter Island smiley.
Laughing aloud (at you!); or, talks too much.
Crying ... sadly.
Crying ... happily.
"Bronx cheer" smileys.
Someone's giving you "the raspberry."
Ooh! That's sour!
"Oh, no! It's Mr. Bill!"
... (Right after doing
rm -rf *)
Bad Habits & Misbehavin'
(don't follow behind this one too closely!)
dangling from mouth.
Pipe smoker smiley.
"Pro Junior" smiley.
Fans of 60's and 70's
underground comix can appreciate this one.
Smileys with their snoots full - Don't let them drive!
smileys with their
Hungover smileys. (Ssshhh! Please don't shout.)
Miscellaneous ... the bit bucket
No Yelling! ("Quiet!")
Marvin the Martian" ... from Bugs Bunny cartoons.
Wears a Walkman.
Egghead ... similar to
Dwarf , or
Plays Nuclear War
Pablo Picasso ...
Your local Unix wizard.
Mega-smiley: A drunk, devilish chef with a toupee in an updraft, a mustache,
and a double chin!
The cold smiley, with a toboggon on for winter.
Smileys Are For Kids
Many of smiley patterns are used without noses (hyphens) to make kid-sized
The gleeb (or
"gleep") ... a friendly little smiley who will gladly be your buddy.
A real bummer.
This smiley was called on in the classroom and doesn't know the answer.
Could also be used to show a milky moustache.
Pavarotti; shouting smiley.
This one's having its temperature taken;
home sick from school.
These are also Smileys, but they are also glyphs that convey messages.
Message to/about someone wearing
. . . - - - . . .
SOS (International distress signal in Morse Code)
You can just guess what this means.
... could also be
religious. (slow loading)
Offering a handshake;
This message is of interest to women.
A large open red rose