What Does :-) Mean?

The Quick Answer

The emoticon ":-)" represents a smiling face. The emoticon ":-)" is essentially a variant of the more commonly used ":)" smiley face. The additional hyphen serves as a nose between the colon "eyes" and the right parenthesis "mouth."

More Detail...

Both ":)" and ":-)" serve the same purpose: to convey happiness, approval, or positive feelings. ":-)" is a bit older than ":)". It was more commonly used in the early days of the internet and SMS text messaging. Over time, as the need for brevity increased and as emojis began to take over, the simpler version without the hyphen became more popular. Both versions are understood to signify the same emotions and are generally interchangeable. Emoticons such as ":-)" have been largely supplemented by more sophisticated emojis, which are graphical symbols that accomplish the same purpose but can be more nuanced and varied. However, ":-)" still enjoys widespread use due to its simplicity and near-universal recognition.

Image for :-)

When I write :-), I mean this:

meaning of :-)

":-)" represents a "smiley face."

Summary of Key Points

"Smiley Face" is, by far, the most common meaning for :-) when it is used in a text. (Bear in mind that it could have another meaning if used in a different context.)
Definition:Smiley Face
Guessability:guessability level 1
1: Easy to guess
Typical Users:typical user

Adults, Teenagers, and Under 13s

An Academic Look at :-)

":-)" is classified as 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. Happy emoticons are alternatively known as a "smileys" or "smiley faces."

Example of :-) Used in a Text

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