Vague, imprecise facsimiles of human emotion. They often seem to be saying something positive while simultaneously harboring an undercurrent of malice. They don’t even have eyebrows. How can we trust them at all??

Well, never fear. The following is a handy dandy guide to the most commonly used emoticons so that you never again have to question someone’s true intentions. You’re welcome.

1) The Smiley Face
interpreting emoticons

Could mean any of the following:

– I’m smiling. I’m happy to be talking with you!

– This seems like an appropriate non-response response now that I’ve run out of things to say.

– I badly want this conversation to end but I am trying to be polite about it.

– You are not important enough for me to bother typing words.

2) The Winky Face


Could mean any of the following:

– I just said something silly! Do you also think what I said is silly? Yay, silly!

– Everything preceding this winky face is a lie.

– I’m flirting with you. Innuendos abound! Later you will scroll back through this entire conversation in a desperate hunt for suggestive double entendres you may have missed the first time around.

– I’m being totally sarcastic. Or totally serious. You’ll never know for sure. If I’m honest, I don’t really want you to correctly interpret my motives. Winky faces make me feel mysterious and desirable.

3) The Frowny Face

Could mean any of the following:

– I’m sad about something you just said.

– I’m sad about something you just said, but not because I’m sorry about your situation. It’s more like I feel sorry for you as a person. Because you’re pathetic.

– I’m sad about having to participate in this conversation.

– I’m so appalled by what you’ve just told me that I have no words, and have thus been forced to select an emoticon. You’re lucky I chose the frowny face and not the “Oh Shit” face.

4) The “Oh Shit” Face

oh shit

Could mean any of the following:

– I just said something kinda crazy.

– You just said something crazy, and I am aghast. You are as loony as my 90-year-old, demented grandmother.

– I’m going to unfriend you soon. Prepare yourself emotionally.

– I am better than you.

5) The Googly-eyed, Tongue-out Face


Could mean any of the following:

– We’re such a pair of zany goofballs, aren’t we?

– I’m having a conversation with someone else right now, someone infinitely more important than you. This googly-eyed, tongue-out face seems well-considered enough to make you believe I took a few moments to ponder your message before carefully selecting the appropriate emoticon. But this is not the case; the googly-eyed, tongue-out face is my go-to emoticon for those with whom I can’t be bothered to type words.

– I’m not sure I feel safe around you. I’m trying to diffuse what I feel could turn into a potentially volatile situation by selecting emoticons with their tongues hanging out, because those seem the least likely to provoke further demonstrations of histrionic behavior on your part. You fucking freak.

6) The Half Frowny Confused-ish Face


Could mean any of the following:

– I’m unsure of how to feel about something I’ve just said.

– I’m unsure of how to feel about something you’ve just said.

– I’m really quite unsure of this entire conversation.

– I’m unsure about our friendship. In fact, I can’t decide whether or not you even deserve to take up space and oxygen on this planet.

– “Uhhhhh”

– “Errrrrr”

There. I can only imagine the relief you must feel now that you have this convenient decoder you can reference anytime those pesky emoticons begin to infiltrate your online conversations.

Don’t you feel better now? 😉

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  1. Hahahahaha! I am guilof over using the winking face! Doh! 😉 (see? Did it again!)

  2. To me the “speak no evil” monkey on the iPhone looks like a visual representation of “I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.”