Emoticons: Noses or Noseless?

Have you ever wondered why some people put noses in their emoticons and others don't?

Mignon Fogarty
1-minute read

Have you ever wondered why some people put noses in their emoticons and others don't? In a light-hearted Friday mood, I noticed that it seems as if fewer people are using noses these days, and I posted the pondering to Google+. I thought it might have to do with saving a character since we deal with such tight character limits on Twitter, but the answer was much more delightful! 

Stan Carey, an Irish writer who often has interesting things to say about language, found an emoticon research paper that addresses the nose issue. Yes, somebody actually researches these things!

The conclusion (and I paraphrase)—if you use a nose, you're probably old. Here's what the author, Stanford researcher Tyler Schnoebelen, wrote:

Emoticons with noses are historically older . . . people who use old-fashioned noses also use a different vocabulary—nose users don't mention Bieber or omg.

It's true! I always use a nose, and although I may occasionally use an "omg," it's not part of my daily lexicon, and I'm pretty sure I've never before typed "Bieber." Mystery solved, and a hat tip to both Stan Carey and Tyler Schnoebelen. :-)

Mignon Fogarty is the author of Grammar Girl's 101 Misused Words You'll Never Confuse Again. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show.

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