SAY IT WITH A :)

You can chat online until your fingers are raw, but you still can't convey the emotional subtlety of tete-a-tete conversation. That's why emoticons were invented, those clever keyboard images designed to punctuate online palaver with a fillip of feeling. Some have become well known: ;-) is a wink and a smile (in other words, aren't I ironic?). But the art form has spread beyond its first primitive symbols to become an increasingly complex form of Net expression. Herewith a quick sampling of the latest in postliterate sign language:

:'-) (I'm shedding a tear of joy)

3;-} (I'm giving you a devilish...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!