or heart symbol or less than three [hahrt sim-buh l] or [les th uh n three]
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.
Examples of <3
Where does <3 come from?
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.
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.