What Does OWO Mean in a Text?

OWO is often used used as an emoticon to express happy surprise or excitement. It may also mean "oral without (a condom)." It is probably safer to assume the former, even if you suspect the latter! To help you avoid embarrassing misunderstandings, here is more information about each definition, with examples of use.


image for OwO, showing a happy face emoji

OWO is an emoticon used in texting and online chat to convey a sense of happy surprise or excitement. It is normally typed as OwO and represents the cute face of a character with wide-open eyes and a small mouth. It is often used in playful situations. This emoticon is associated with anime and manga culture, and can suggest playful curiosity or an innocent, childlike wonder. For example:

  • "That was really 10 years ago?! OwO!"
  • "OwO! Sam finally asked me out!"
  • "OwO! They are letting him stand again, after inciting an insurrection?!"

Oral Without

image for OWO, showing condoms with a line through the image

In adult chat rooms and certain dating context, OWO may mean "oral without," which implies oral sex without the use of a condom. Beware! The more innocent use of OWO detailed above is far more prevalent in general internet and texting culture. The explicit interpretation is limited to very specific contexts and can cause confusion. For example:

  • Lee: "I love OwO. Are you up for it?"
  • Bernie: "Definitely! I love Japanese comics! What's your favorite genre?"
Check out our comprehensive glossary of digital dating terms.

Image for OWO

When I write OWO, I mean this:

meaning of OWO

Beware of embarrassing misunderstandings!

Summary of Key Points for First Definition

Happy surprise or excitement is the most common definition for OwO when it is used as an emoticon on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Definition:Happy Surprise or Excitement
Guessability:guessability level 3

3: Guessable

Typical Users:typical user
Adults and Teenagers

Summary of Key Points for Second Definition

In dating-related chat, OWO may mean "Oral Without."
Definition:Oral Without
Guessability:guessability level 3

3: Guessable

Typical Users:typical user
Adults and Teenagers

An Academic Look at OWO

image for academic look, showing a teacher with a mortar board

OWO (and especially OwO) are typically used as an emoticon. Emoticons are a way to show emotion in text-based communication. They consist of a small group of symbols arranged to show emotions, such as happiness, sadness, anger, and others, using the letters, numbers, and symbols usually found on a standard keyboard in a typographic approximation of the desired illustration.

Emoticons have largely been made redundant on most messaging apps, as users now have access to a large number of emojis and most emoticons are automatically replaced with the corresponding emoji.

When used with the meaning "oral without," OWO is classified as an initialism abbreviation, as it is pronounced one letter at a time.

Other examples of initialisms are:

  • AI - "Artificial Intelligence."
  • EW - "Electronic Warfare."
Initialisms are different to acronyms, which are abbreviations spoken as words.

Example of OWO Used in a Text

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