What Does Emo Mean in a Text?

homesearch eEMO

The Quick Answer

"Emo" is a term that originally referred to a genre of music but has since evolved to encompass a broader cultural movement.

More Detail...

Here's a breakdown of its meanings and associations.

Emocore Music Genre

Emo is a contraction of "emocore," which itself is a contraction of the words "emotional" and "hardcore." Emo music was originally a genre of rock, characterized by an emphasis on emotional, often confessional, lyrics. Emo songs usually have a more sensitive and personal side to them than in most other genres of music. Emo music emerged in Washington DC during the mid-1980s, as a style of post-hardcore punk rock. It was pioneered by bands such as Rites of Spring and Embrace, before being adopted and reinvented by alternative rock, indie rock and pop punk bands. During the early and mid-1990s, a number of independent record labels began to specialize in Emo music. By the early 2000s, major record labels had got involved and it became widely popular, with bands such as Jimmy Eat World, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance and Panic! At the Disco becoming established performers with enduring appeal to a wide fan base.

Fashion, Aesthetics and Subculture

Emo also refers to a distinctive fashion style associated with fans of the music. This style often includes tight jeans, band T-shirts, studded belts, and specific hairstyles like long bangs swept to one side, sometimes covering one eye. The use of dark eyeliner is common, regardless of gender. Beyond music and fashion, emo is also associated with a subculture that values emotional expression, sensitivity, and introspection. It's about the freedom to express a wide range of emotions, including vulnerability. However, it is often stereotyped as overly emotional or angst-ridden. For example:
  • Sam: Is Sarah's new boyfriend related to Dracula?
  • Jo: No, he's an emo.
  • Ali: Do you fancy going to an emo party?
  • Chris: Is that an oxymoron?

Top 10 Songs We All Listened to in Our Emo Phase


Emo is also used as a straightforward contraction of the word "emotional," which refers to anything pertaining to emotions, which are the complex psychological states that arise as subjective responses to certain experiences.

A Video Summary

Here's a short video explaining how to use the term "emo."

Image for EMO

When I write EMO, I mean this:

meaning of EMO

Like Goths, many emos strive for that "just-got-out-the-coffin" look.

Summary of Key Points

First Definition of EMO

"Emocore" is, by far, the most common meaning for EMO when it is used in a text. (Bear in mind that it could have another meaning if used in a different context.)
Definition:Emocore (or a follower of Emocore)
Type:Word and Abbreviation
Guessability:guessability level 2
2: Quite easy to guess
Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

Second Definition of EMO

EMO is also widely used to mean "Emotional."
Type:Word and Abbreviation
Guessability:guessability level 2
2: Quite easy to guess
Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

An Academic Look at EMO

an academic look at EMO

Emo is a shortened version of the term "emocore," which is itself a contraction of the words "emotional" and "hardcore." Therefore, emo is a contraction of a contraction. It can be used as a noun or an adjective. For example:

  • He is an emo.

  • (Here, emo is a noun.)
  • Is "sorrow" the collective noun for a group of emo teenagers?

  • (Here, emo is an adjective.)

Example of EMO Used in a Text

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