What the actual Sh!t does “XO” mean?
It’s a mystery, and each culture has its own interpretation…
Okay let’s be honest, we’ve all at some point received a text message with either an “xx” or “xo” and gotten a little excited. However the excitement is also clouded with doubt. Is it meant to be flirty or friendly? I was in my office one day speaking with a colleague about the “xo” vs “xx” phenomenon and to my surprise we had very differing opinions on what each meant. Our lunch conversation got deeper and deeper, which led to research, asking people from multiple countries, and coming to the conclusion that there’s a lot more to this mystery than anyone could’ve ever imagined. After reading this you’ll definitely be questioning the meaning of life itself, so proceed at your own risk.
Let’s start with the basics; what do the ‘x’ and ‘o’ stand for? Obviously most of us know one is a hug and one is a kiss. Growing up, personally, I was always under the impression that the ‘x’ was a hug because it looks like arms crossing and the ‘o’ was a kiss as it looks like a mouth. Makes sense right? Apparently not to everyone. My colleague believed the ‘x’ stood for kiss while the o stood for hug. I was baffled by this. I was so convinced my entire life because I had never heard otherwise. I’m 22 by the way.
This led me to rethink my entire history of texting people. Growing up ever since I can remember texting the opposite sex, I always took “xx” as a friendly gesture while an “xo” to be a flirtatious innuendo. Was I wrong the whole time? Was I oblivious to people flirting with me on multiple occasions based on the difference of one letter? Who knows what might have been had I thought differently!
I am not alone though. I asked multiple of my friends, roommates, my parents, random strangers, and even a world renowned Harvard professor (who actually hasn’t gotten back to me yet) who also believed the ‘o’ to be the kiss. So now we need to think, could it be different based on countries/regions? With that I decided to ask around internationally and the results are shocking to say the least.
According to one of my colleagues from China, “ooxx” or “xxoo” both simply mean sex. I’m not going to lie, this was by far my favorite answer because I appreciate people who get straight to the point. You can’t get much more straightforward than that. Good work China!
Next I asked another colleague from the Ukraine. He said he actually had no idea about the “xo” and “xx” fiasco. However Ukrainians do have a unique way of virtually sending kisses to one another and it’s with the “:” followed by the “*” symbol. the result is, “:*” which does slightly look like a face giving a peck on the cheek. Sort of. Well not really. But hey I’m trying to be open minded!
In Australia apparently ‘x’ is a kiss while ‘o’ is a hug. That being said when I asked my Australian colleague if she thought “xx” or “xo” was more taboo she had difficulty choosing. “The more excited I am the more “x’s” I use” she said. “We use “x’s” all the time with our friends, family, (boys/girls, it doesn’t matter) it’s just a friendly gesture, no big deal!”
I later learned that you should never send a South African an ‘x’ as it means “hate”, apparently. I had to learn this lesson the hard way.
Well how about that? Who would have thought there were so many different uses of the ‘x’ and ‘o’ and so many other variations and ways different cultures flirt with one another (or simply request sex in China). In the end, the answer is inconclusive; I will never truly know if ‘x’ and ‘o’ are hug or kiss. I will also have to live with the fact that I probably misjudged a lot of encounters with the opposite sex due to the mysterious unknown that is the ‘x’ and ‘o’. I hope this information helps improve your social life moving forward, but it probably won’t. In fact I probably just made everything a whole lot more complicated. Thank god we have emoji’s now.
The Pondering Pilgrim