Because it is hard to convey emotions in e-mails and on the net and therefore its easy to misinterpret the writers intention (eg are they joking or serious about a comment)  - emoticons (emotional icons often called smiley's) - typed expressions of emotion have come into wide use.

They are made from keystrokes and usually produce a facial expression sideways. Below are some of the more commonly used emoticons and an explanation.

    :-) Your basic smiley. This smiley is used to inflect a sarcastic or joking statement since we can't hear voice inflection over the net. (tilt your head to the left if you cannot see the smiley)     ;-) Winky smiley. User just made a flirtatious and/or sarcastic remark. More of a "don't hit me for what I just said" smiley.
       
    :-( Frowning smiley. User did not like that last statement or is upset or depressed about something.     :-I Indifferent smiley. Better than a Frowning smilie but not quite as good as a happy smiley
       
    :-> User just made a really biting sarcastic remark. Worse than a :-)     >:-> User just made a really devilish remark.
       
    >;-> Winky and devil combined. A very lewd remark
was just made.
   

 

Here are some less common ones:

(-:

User is left handed

%-)

User has been staring at a screen for 15 hours straight
       

:*)

User is drunk

[:]

User is a robot
       

8-)

User is wearing sunglasses

B:-)

Sunglasses on head
       

::-)

User wears normal glasses

B-)

User wears horn-rimmed glasses
       

:-{)

User has a moustache

:-{}

User wears lipstick
       

{:-)

User wears a toupee

}:-(

Toupee in an updraft
       

:-[

User is a Vampire

:-E

Bucktoothed vampire
       

:-F

Bucktoothed vampire with one tooth missing

:-7

User just made a wry statement
       

:-*

User just ate something sour

:-)~

User drools
       

:-~)

User has a cold

:'-(

User is crying
       

:'-)

User is so happy, s/he is crying

:-@

User is screaming
       

:-#

User wears braces

:^)

User has a broken nose
       

:v)

User has a broken nose, but it's the other way

:_)

User's nose is sliding off of his face
       

:<)

User is from an Ivy League School

:-&

User is tongue tied.
       

=:-)

User is a hosehead

-:-)

User is a punk rocker
       

-:-(

(real punk rockers don't smile)

:=)

User has two noses
       

+-:-)

User is the Pope or holds some other religious office

`:-)

User shaved one of his eyebrows off this morning
       

,:-)

Same thing...other side

|-I

User is asleep
       

|-O

User is yawning/snoring

:-Q

User is a smoker
       

:-?

User smokes a pipe

O :-)

User is an angel (at heart, at least)
       

O-)

Megaton Man On Patrol! (or else, user is a scuba diver)

:-P

Nyahhhh! or Sticking out your tongue
       

:-S

User just made an incoherent statement

:-D

User is laughing (at you!)
       

:-/

User is skeptical

C=:-)

User is a chef
       

@=

User is pro-nuclear war

*<:-)

User is wearing a Santa Claus Hat
       

:-o

Uh oh!

(8-o

It's Mr. Bill!
       

*:o)

And Bozo the Clown!

3:]

Pet smiley
       

3:[

Mean Pet smiley

d8=

Your pet beaver is wearing goggles and a hard hat.
       

E-:-)

User is a Ham radio operator

%-6

User is brain-dead
       

[:-)

User is wearing a Walkman

(:I

User is an egghead
       

<:-I

User is a dunce

K:P

User is a little kid with a propeller beanie
       

@:-)

User is wearing a turban

:-0

No Yelling! (Quiet Lab)
       

:-:

Mutant Smiley   The invisible smiley
       

.-)

User only has one eye

,-)

The user only has one eye...but he's winking
       

X-(

User just died

8 :-)

User is a wizard
       

C=}>;*{))

Mega-Smiley... A drunk, devilish chef with a toupee in an updraft, a mustache, and a double chin    
       

 

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