multi-platform graphical emoticons quick reference

emotions positive | playful | negative | unhealthy | other emotions legend at
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I wrote this list or quick-reference (site) because I was having a hard time remembering less-common graphical emoticons while using instant messaging (IM). There are no standards! This was complicated by the fact that I use a particular IM client (the excellent Trillian by cerulean studios) on my home computer which offers a large set of emoticons. It also supports multiple platforms, including MSN, AIM/AOL, etc.

Emoticons are often entered into an IM client by typing a special keyboard symbol sequence. Some IM environments (e.g. Trillian, AIM, Meebo) let you also choose emoticons from a visual menu. Many of the key sequences are based on old email "smileys" (e.g. ;-) or the semi-colon, hyphen, and open-parenthesis to mean "wink"). Other emoticons are generated by essentially typing a word between parenthesis (e.g. (drums) to show a little tin drum and drumsticks—and perhaps play a drum roll sound effect!).

This site shows moods, emotions, effects, and other symbols in a procedural arrangement. So, simply look for the thing you want to emote or communicate, then read across for the keyboard shortcut. I tried to describe each emoticon with synonyms. If you're in a hurry, do a word search using your browser's Find command. Have fun!

Watch out for "faux amis" or false-friends. There are a handful of emoticons that mean different things in different IM clients. You could be sending the wrong message! Also note that some smileys are case-sensitive! Graphical emoticons do not seem to show in AOL Express... Note that all my Trillian test were done using the default skins.

A final word: there are only a dozen common emoticons...


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what's new new!

24 Nov 2006 - added emoticons for the current version of Meebo (1.0 Release 21)
12 Feb 2005 - updated link to AOL/AIM smiley help page
12 Feb 2005 - removed email addresses from contributors page to prevent spam email harvesting
10 Feb 2005 - updates for Trillian Pro 3.0 (with hints from Chris Hayes)
1 Nov 2004 - fixed typo on "top few" page
1 Nov 2004 - added Jules' keyboard shortcut
1 Nov 2004 - added notes that I test Trillian with the default skins (which broadly support emoticons)
15 Jan 2004 - built a new page with the top 10 or so common emoticons; figured a mystery Trillian Pro icon
14 Jan 2004 - added ICQ Lite emoticons
11 Jan 2004 - minor corrections; noted the Trill Pro duck emoticon has a sound effect; duplicate headings at table bottom
9 Jan 2004 - switched to an external cascading style sheet (CSS) file
8 Jan 2004 - added Tafadzwa's icons; minor touch-ups; update Wacky B link; add legend jump link; add favICON to site
2 Nov 2003 - added new MSN 6 icons



Amazingly there are only about 10 to 20 emoticons that are common to the major IM clients!

If you don't want to memorize a lot of emoticons, just concentrate on the top 10 or so.

an emoticon that is... approx. number
very common to IM clients, the "standard" ones... 5
similar on most IM clients, but may not work on some 15
uncommon among IM clients or specific or unique to one over 200
a watch-out! means different things in different IM clients there are a few

This legend is included at the bottom of every page within this site.

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copyright © 2002-2008 Blake Nancarrow
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