Popular and Niche Emoticons to Steal the Emoji Show

The emoticon renaissance.

A long time before emojis, there were emoticons or emotion icons. These symbols composing punctuation marks and other special characters express the same emotions as the present-day emoji, only with basic quality. Nothing high definition. But here’s what’s funny.

Many people around the world still find those emoticons a lot more pleasing and cute than emojis. Seems like the simple stuff wins. Just like emojis, emoticons too are endless. Though they seem definite, there are always new additions to the list. They’re as broadly classified as emojis.

Types of Emoticons

There are three basic types of emoticons; Eastern, Western, and 2Channel. There are additional styles such as Korean, Chinese and combination emoticons.

The most popular emoticon formats are the Western and the Eastern styles. They’re also known as horizontal and vertical emoticons respectively because one occurs sideways and the other, upright or erect.

Given the length of the emoticon list, this blog post covers only the famous signs and also a couple of new or niche signs that are not as famous.

Slightly Smiling Face Emoji

🙂 Slightly Smiling Face

Prior to the current digital era, the resting bitch face was conveyed with a 🙂. However, this emoticon, along with its variations :-), =), :3, :], :-], =], :-3, ^_^ (^_^), ^.^, and (^.^) also communicate a warm and genuine (sarcasm-free) 😊 Smiling Face With Smiling Eyes.

Grinning Face With Big Eyes Emoji

😃 Grinning Face With Big Eyes Emoji

If we were to show that we’re surprised, excited, joyful, or just extra happy, with more than just words, we’d use 😃, 😄 Grinning Face With Smiling Eyes, 😀 Grinning Face, or even 😺 Grinning Cat. But back in the day, the format was anywhere among :D, :-D, or =D.

Grinning Squinting Face Emoji

😆 Grinning Squinting Face

One of the popular ways of laughing with an emoticon is XD. This symbol directly mimics the present emoji. However, XD suggests an LMAO or a “big, loud, gagging, laugh”. The same sign but with lowercase (xD) would indicate that you’re laughing but not bawling. Other variants are ones with noses; X-D and x-D.

Laughter with “tears of joy” is shown as :’) or :’-) which is essentially the basic version of the 😂 Tears of Joy or the 😹 Cat With Tears of Joy.

Pensive Face Emoji 1

😔 Pensive Face

The expression that inspired this pensive face is the OG “sad face” or 🙁. Though 😔 shows deep thinking, it’s mostly used to show grief. Other emoticons that fit this emotion are :-(, :[, and :-[ (the latter two look like sad people, but with mustaches).

Tears are the same, only the emotion backing these tears differ. The same “tears of joy” in the previous section is shown as a 😢 Crying Face with :'( or :’-( (the curve goes the other way around).

But, what if the emoticons mentioned here just don’t fit the sadness you’re feeling? Worry not! You could always deepen the curve! The deeper the curve, the sadder the face; :c, :-c, :C :-C, :<, and :-<.

Smiling Face With Heart Eyes Emoji

😍 Heart Eyes

Yes, we could show that we love, admire or find something luring with a heart emoticon (scroll down to know more about it). But, we cannot personify that emoticon with a face. Or so we thought.

Using very few emoticons does not mean there are very few, it only shows that we’re not aware of the rest. Even without mainstream emojis, you can show that you have “heart eyes” for something or someone with 8), 8-), 8D, 8-D and B^D (tilt your head a little if you didn’t get this one). 8 and B make for the hearts.

If you want to show this emotion vertically, you can use *-*, *_*, @_@, (@_@), +.+, (+.+), +_+, and (+_+).

😘 Face Blowing a Kiss

😘 Face Blowing a Kiss

Kisses are the easiest and the cutest emoticons. It’s as simple as a :*. If you want more details to convert that Voldemort kiss into a human one, use it with a nose :-*. You could also apply kisses with “X’s” – 😡.

Angry Face Emoji

😠 Angry Face

An angry face is less angry and more hilarious in the emoticon world. There’s a heavy emphasis on the eyebrows and that’s the highlight of this emoticon’s detailing. So, when you’re pissed, here’s the look on your face >:[.

Face With Open Mouth Emoji

😮 Face With Open Mouth

A face with a mouth wide open definitely shows surprise. It expresses awe and disbelief too, which can be fulfilled with 😮 or 😮.

However, if the intensity of the same was doubled or tripled, then the 😲 Astonished Face would come in handy. Here’s how you make that reaction an emoticon – :O or :-O (the more uppercase, the more emotion).

The “vertical” emoticon variations of this emoji are – o_o, o_O, o_0, o.o, O.o, and (o.o).

Winking Face Emoji

😉 Winking Face

Winks are communicated via semi-colons (;). So, if you were winking at someone but without emoji, then you can send these emoticons – ;-), ;), ;], ;-], ;> or ;->.

If the wink is less creepy and more goofy then the 😜 Winking Face With Tongue will do the trick. The perfect emoticons to pull this off are ;-p, ;p, ;-P or ;P. The tongue in emojis is depicted with a “P” if you’re being super goofy, and a “p” if you’re just being you.

Similarly, you can use the following emoticons to match the given “tongue emojis”:

Confused Face Emoji

😕 Confused Face

You see that diagonal or “crossed” mouth? The one that shows confusion, uncertainty, and wonder? The 😕 Confused Face emoji was inspired by :/. This emoticon is quite literally the original confused face. Other variants are – :-/, :\, :-\, =/ and =\.

You could also show uncertainty with the 😐 Neutral Face emoji, which can be equally and effectively achieved with 😐 or :-|.

Red Heart Emoji

❤️ Hearts

There are tons of colored hearts in the world and on the emoji list. But red hearts are the most popular in both worlds. It’s almost the best of both. Hence, we wound this section down to the ❤️ Red Heart.

Heart emoticons are super easy and super cute. All you need is something lesser than the number 3. This works even in the case of a broken heart, but with an oblique to define things a little.

  • ❤️ – <3
  • 💔 – </3 or <\3
Raising Hands Emoji

🙌 Raising Hands

These are, what we’d like to call, the “concert hands”. Your hands up in the air, like you don’t care about the booze in your hair.

This may not be one of the mainstream emoticons, but \0/ or \o/ is how you show that you’re having as much of a good time as you would with 🙌.

If you want to add in some sparkle and confetti-like excitement to this “cheer emoticon”, like a cheerleader, here’s what you do – *\0/*.

Persevering Face Emoji

😣 Persevering Face

A persevering face has visible signs of exhaustion, uneasiness, indecisiveness, and mostly, discomfort through it all. It’s fine if you do not want to apply this emoji while sharing something personal to do with any of the above. You can use >.< and it does the same.

The 😖 Confounded Face is used in contexts that closely align with the persevering face. So, if confoundment is what you’re after, then you can express it with these emoticons >_< or (>_<).

Unamused Face Emoji 1

😒 Unamused Face

😒 fulfills the need to let someone know that you’re unimpressed or just plainly unamused. But, if you want to ditch the yellow face and use a punctuated face instead, here are the options: ~_~, ~.~, (~_~) and (~.~)

😑 also works in similar frameworks as the unamused face but with a slight change of intention. Here, the emoji intends is to show irritation, frustration, and a way of saying “WTF?”. The emoticon replacements for this emoji are: (-_-), -_- , (-.-), and -.-.

Anguished Face Emoji

😧 Anguished Face

An anguished face is a pained face. 😧 is clearly going through something or has witnessed something saddening.

When it comes to sadness emoticons are formatted differently. Usually, the horizontal symbols go from left to right, but sad emoticons work reversely. So, the emoticon symbols to show anguish would be D: , D-: , and D=.

Some of the other “reversed emoticons” are:

Other Niche Emoticons

If you’re someone who loves emoticons or wants to shift from emojis to emoticons, we hope you found our list helpful.

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