Emoji dictionary

<3

or heart symbol or less than three [hahrt sim-buh l] or [les th uhthree]

What does <3 mean?

<3 is a typographical representation of a heart, used to convey love and similar warm feelings online and often evoking early internet culture.

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Related words

💔 - broken heart emoji , 💖 - sparkling heart emoji , 💕 - two hearts emoji , 💓 - beating heart emoji, ❤️ - red heart emoji, 😍 - smiling face with heart-shaped eyes emoji, black heart

Where does <3 come from?

Examples of <3

We <3 this colorful and modern Texas wedding!
@theknot, January 2016
Find you someone who looks at you the way Jonah Hill looks at Emma Stone! <33333
@emmabung, January 2017
Pouting in anime. "Oh, so cute (^-^)<3!" Pouting in real life. "What the fuck are you doing mate cut that shit out."
@InvertMouse, January 2016
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Who uses <3?

Since the 2010s, as noted, emoji have become so widespread that many are more likely to type a heart-based emoji than its predecessor <3 (or ♡).

<3 and heart emoji can be used to express love or affection for a person or fondness for some event or content. Like the heart symbol, <3 can stand for the word love or heart, e.g., I <3 New York.

<3 still maintains currency and popularity, however, especially on a computer keyboards, as typing <3 can be faster than retrieving an emoji.

Many people intentionally use <3 to call to mind the earlier days of the internet or demonstrate familiarity with its culture. Often appearing in the phrase i <3 u, the <3 can convey a cute, more innocent, or more earnest tone than various heart emoji.

In colloquial speech and occasionally in writing, <3 is pronounced or represented as less than three. For instance, someone might type less than three if fawning over a picture of an adorable dog. In so doing, users again conjure up the internet of the 1980–90s and signal an “in-the-know, old school” credibility with the conventions and slang of the era.

To add extra emphasis to the <3 emoticon, users tend to add extra 3’s instead of typing the entire emoticon, e.g., <33333 instead of <3<3<3<3<3.

<3 is sometimes incorporated into kaomoji, a popular Japanese style of emoticons.

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Note

This is not meant to be a formal definition of <3 like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of <3 that will help our users expand their word mastery.