I've gathered some material for you on the subject of how X's and O's
came to represent kisses and hugs. Traditionally, the X stands for a
kiss and the O for a hug.
"One theory holds that the X stands for a kiss because it originally
represented a highly stylized picture of two mouths touching -- X.
Furthermore, in early times illiterates often signed documents with a
St. Andrew's cross of X and kissed that X to show their good faith (as
they did with any cross or the Bible, which reinforced the
association). But these explanations may be folk etymology, as may the
story that mathematically the X is a 'multiplier' -- in this case of
love and delight."
From the 'Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins' by Robert
Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997). "
Antimoon Forum: XXX's & OOO's
"Valentine's Day greetings often include a string of XXX to represent
kisses. During the Middle Ages those who could not write their names
signed legal documents with an 'X'. The signing was witnessed and
'sealed with a kiss' on the 'X'. The 'X' eventually came to symbolize
Living History: Love in the Middle Ages
"How did X's and O's come to represent hugs and kisses? The common
custom of placing X's on envelopes, notes and at the bottom of letters
to mean kisses dates back to Medeival ages, when a cross was drawn on
documents or letters to mean sincerity and honesty. A kiss was then
placed upon the cross, by the signer as a display of their of their
sworn oath. It was also used in early Christian history as much of a
display of the same. Since most of the common people were unable to
read or write, the 'X' was placed on documents, and a kiss placed upon
it as a show of their sincerity, gradually, as it was used so often,
the cross was hurried drawn and often resembled an 'X'. The 'O' is of
North American descent, no one really seems to know how it was
started. It has been said that when arriving to the US, Jewish
immigrants would use an 'O' on documents, not using the sign of the
cross, and shop keepers would often use an 'O' when signing documents,
in place of an 'X'. Perhaps now it is used as the 'O' being rounded
represents arms encircling another, as in an embrace."
Romantic Trivia and Love Lore
Here's a typical use of X's and O's in a valentine:
Nana Ellen's Stories and Stuff
And here are some X's and O's on a message board:
"Sue, you are friendly, I can see that.
Unfortunately there are others who don't.
: XXX = Kisses
: ooo = Hugs"
Thin Lizzy's Starting Point Web Board
Abbreviated signoffs including X's and O's are often used in chatrooms
and instant messaging. Below is an amusing list of these
"These days it's quite common for messages on social-oriented bulletin
boards to end with signoffs like 'Hi and hugs to everybody.' In fact,
this has become so popular that as much as 7.5% of the disk space on
some BBS's is currently devoted to this particular comment. The
International Committee for Relatively Pointless Abbreviations and
Badly Misspelled Acronyms (SPUDS) has just released a new,
internationally approved list of abbreviated signoffs. These include:
ooo = hugs
xxx = kisses
OOO = big hugs
XXX = big kisses
oo = hugs for everybody but you
OO! = big, excited hugs
CCC = hugs for people you can't quite reach around
OOQ = hugging with tongue
xx@ = kisses and earlobe nibbling
zzz = snoring
yyy = anything that occurs between kissing and snoring"
Net Funny: Extended Sign-Off Mnemonics
My Google search strategy:
Google Web Search: x o represent kisses hugs
Google Web Search: xxx ooo kisses hugs
Thanks for an interesting question! If anything I've said is unclear
or incomplete, or if any of the links do not function, please request
clarification; I'll be glad to offer further assistance before you
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