What Does <3 Mean?
The emoticon <3 means “Love.”
The characters < and 3 (which literally mean “less than three”) form a picture of a heart on its side, which is used as an emoticon, meaning “love.” For example:
Ali: <3 you too.
Toni: Do you like the flowers?
Jordan: I <3 them.
Why Is a Heart “Heart-Shaped”?
You will know from your biology lessons that a human heart is not heart-shaped. Nevertheless, the classic heart shape (♥) is recognized globally as being a heart. The origin of the heart shape is difficult to determine. There are three leading theories:
(Theory 1): The heart shape comes from the shape of ivy leaves, which are linked to fidelity
(Theory 2): The heart shape comes from the shape of breasts and the buttocks.
(Theory 3): The heart shape comes from the silphium plant (a giant fennel), which the ancient Greeks and Romans used as an early form of birth control. (Silphium’s seed pod is heart-shaped)
Why Does a Heart Mean Love?
The heart is globally recognized as a symbol of love, but why?
Born around 424 BCE, the Greek philosopher Plato was among the first to claim that the heart was linked to our strongest emotions, including love. His observations undoubtedly derived from noting that our hearts beat in concert with emotions such as fear, anger, rage, pain, and love.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle expanded on Plato’s finding, claiming that the heart ruled over all human processes, not just emotions. Ever since, we have continued to associate love with our hearts.
More Terms Like <3
The emoticon <3 has inspired many other icons linked to love. For example:
<333 = I really love you.
<4 = I really love you (more than <3).
<2 = It’s not love yet (less than <3).
K3U = I love you (I<3U squashed together).
Learn lots more ways of saying “I love you” online.
Image for <3
When I write <3, I mean this:
<3 is a heart lying on its side. It means “love.”
Video Summarizing the Different Ways of Saying “I Love You”
Summary of Key Points
“Love” is the most common definition for <3 on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
- Definition: Love
- Type: Icon
- Guessability: Easy to guess
- Typical Users: Adults and Teenagers
An Academic Look at <3
<3 is classified as an emoticon, because it depicts what it represents.
Using Numbers in Texts
This video shows the different ways that numbers are used in “text speak”:
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