What Does XOXO Mean?

Alex Nguyen

a large red xoxo sign sitting in front of a building

The abbreviation “XOXO” is commonly used in digital communication to show affection or friendship. It is often used at the end of messages and represents hugs and kisses. The expression has become a symbol of warmth and goodwill. The “X” stands for a kiss, while the “O” represents a hug. Even though it may seem modern, the origins of “XOXO” go back many years. The use of “X” to signify a kiss has medieval roots and was associated with illiterate individuals signing documents with an “X” and then kissing it as a sign of their sincerity. Over time, the addition of “O” to represent hugs has solidified “XOXO” as a customary expression of affection in various forms of digital communication.

Key Takeaways

  • “XOXO” is commonly used in digital communication to express affection, signifying “hugs and kisses.”
  • The “X” represents kissing, while the “O” represents the act of hugging.
  • The origins of “XOXO” can be traced back to medieval times, symbolizing sincerity and integrity in signed documents.

Historical and Linguistic Analysis

This section examines the origins and development of “XOXO” as a term expressing affection, charting its journey through history and varied cultural contexts to its present-day use in digital communication.

Etymology and Origin

The term “XOXO” finds its early origins with the letter “X” as a Christian symbol, tracing back to the Middle Ages. This symbol, representing a cross, evolved into a representation of a kiss over time. It’s speculated that the “O” may symbolize a hug, though its exact origins are less clear. During the medieval period, documents were often sealed with an “X” which the signer would then kiss as a display of sincerity and faith.

Cultural Significance

“XOXO” as a sign-off in letters has been a part of Western culture since the eighteenth century and possibly before. The practice may have started to signify “kisses” and “hugs” as a form of warm closing in personal correspondence. In cultural contexts, these symbols reflect affection, love, or friendship.

Usage in Communication

In today’s communication, “XOXO” is widely recognized as a sign-off in text messages, emails, and social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter. This abbreviation for “hugs and kisses” is a quick way to express affection or friendly sentiment at the end of a conversation or message.

Lexical Considerations

Languages like English have adopted “XOXO” without alteration, and it’s pronounced as the individual letters would suggest. However, in Spanish, entities like Real Academia Española (RAE) often do not recognize such English abbreviations, and “XOXO” might not have a direct translation or equivalent usage.

Symbols and Meanings

The “X” in “XOXO” stands for kisses, and “O” for hugs. This notion plays on the visual similarity of the “X” to two people kissing and the “O” to the encircling arms of a hug. “XOXO” conveys emotions like love, affection, and warmth.

In Digital and Pop Culture

“XOXO” gained fresh popularity with the advent of digital communication. TV shows like “Gossip Girl” have glamorized the sign-off, embedding it further into popular culture. It symbolizes closeness and endearment in a time when digital communication often lacks personal touch.