emoticon
Definition - Characters and/or symbols that are used in internet communication to remove ambiguity by clarifying the writer's tone.

Notes:
1. To view the Wikipedia's fairly complete list of emoticons, click here.

Example -
This is a joke :-)

Etymology -
The word was coined by combining the words emotion and icon.

Note: According to the Wikipedia, on September 19, 1982, Scott Fahlman became the first documented person to use the emoticons :-) and :-( to express emotion.

Oxford English Dictionary -
The term's first citation is from 1990:
"Emoticon—typographical device used to indicate tone or emotion in a posting."
(N.Y. Times 28 Jan. i. 39/4)


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