What Does XOXO Mean?- How To Use It

what does xoxo mean, how to use & reply to it

It is not just a phrase used by our only source into the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite. Yes, you probably guessed it right. XOXO is the phrase that all “Gossip Girl” fans have heard a million times as a sign-off from… Well, do not worry. There are no spoilers here. The question is, WHAT DOES XOXO MEAN? and how do we use this catchy phrase appropriately. If you’re keen to find out more, then keep reading as we’ve tried to answer all of your questions below.

What Does XOXO Mean?

XOXO is an informal term usually used as a sign-off at the end of an email, text message, invitation, and even letter. Generally, it is used to denote banter, love, friendship, rapport, and fellowship. It is from the family of the acronym SWAK. This acronym became popular during the First World War when soldiers imprinted the letters they sent home with SWAK, which meant Sealed With A Kiss.

XOXO is the abbreviation for Hugs and Kisses, making it a gesture to depict love and affection. Even though we can easily spot gossip girl fans worldwide, this phrase is most commonly used in North America. On the other hand, in the United Kingdom, the term “hugs and kisses” is preferred more than its condensed version XOXO.

“X” Denotes Kisses 

The use of X as a sign-off at the end of letters dates back to the middle ages. However, it was around the fifteenth century when people signed off with an X instead of their signatures because most of the population was illiterate.

Another interpretation of X comes from the Christian faith, where people believed it to substitute for the word “Christ.” This interpretation could be the Greek letter “Chi,” which is spelled like an X. The Greek word for Christ is Xristos, that is ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, which also starts with the letter X. The theory held at this time to explain how X symbolizes kisses was the practice of Christians kissing the statues of God. There is also a long history of them kissing the Bible.

Thus, X meant sealing it with a kiss. Marcel Danesi, a professor of linguistic anthropology and semiotics at the University of Toronto, explains that the symbol X can still be observed in numerous churches from medieval times.  After understanding the association of Christ with X, it is straightforward to make sense of writing Christmas as Xmas!

In the mid-eighteenth century, the meaning of X was solidified and accepted as a kiss, regardless of the different interpretations. Initially, people used X as a way to say kisses at the end of informal letters. This was meant to depict sealing the letter with a kiss, probably even literally kissing the letter envelope. It must be kept in mind that it was during this time when women started to have a say in decisions regarding their lives, marriage per see.

Choosing one’s own spouse and falling in love with someone of their own choice became more popular, and along with that, love letters also gained popularity. Therefore, as a show of this liberation and freedom, people learned to express their love and empowerment through letters in this manner. The theory of symbolization of X in the domain of rebellion romanticism in the medieval age was given by Danesi, the writer of  “The History of a Kiss: The Birth of Popular Culture.” The shift in the meaning of “X” with time denotes the change in culture and lingo of the respective next generations.

“O” Denotes Kisses 

The games like tic tac toe that date back to medieval times made people familiar with the letters X and O. This game also explains why X and O have been connected for so long. Even those who could not read and write properly were acquainted with these letters. However, according to the Washington Post, there is no concrete evidence that proves the fact that O symbolized hugs before the 1960s.

Even though it is unclear whether or not O was seen as a symbol of hugs in the middle ages, it has been used to symbolize the same. It is believed to represent the visual of hugging someone. Thus, o is meant to embody the image of two people hugging each other and making a circle with their arms.

Another explanation regarding O as hugs is derived from the Jews that immigrated to the United States. They refused to sign their documents with X as that would refer to Christ. Instead, they signed them with O, which is why O denotes hugs and not kisses. However, this is just one of the popular speculations formed over the years.

The use of O as a hug is relatively a new concept compared to the use of X as kisses. The first use of  O as hugs is presumed to be around 1948. It must also be noted that even though X is sometimes used alone to symbolize a kiss, O is not usually used without X.

Some Facts About XOXO 

  1. One of the earliest mentions of the use of X as kisses dates back to 1763 as a citation in the Oxford English Dictionary. The dictionary mentions the use of X as kisses in a letter by Gilbert White, a priest.

  2. Even though using XOXO or using either of X or O as a sign-off is considered an informal tone, it was used by Winston Churchill to sign off a letter. He still had to decode it and wrote: “(Many kisses.) xxx”.

  3. In the olden days, X was regarded as the holy symbol of Christians as it appeared to be similar to the Calvary cross on which Jesus was crucified.

How To Use XOXO?

There are different ways to use XOXO. Some of them are discussed below. Apart from these distinct combinations of letters to mention hugs and kisses, there are also various platforms where it can be used. A tip on how to use XOXO is to consider the feelings of the person who will be receiving this message from you.

Furthermore, one can make a little extra effort to understand how the receiver might perceive the message and their understanding of the expression. This would help to avoid any misunderstandings in speech and thereby deliver the desired message accurately. Some of the different places where XOXO can be used and how “how” it should be used are discussed below.

  1. Different Variations Of XOXO
    • There are plenty of different ways in which we use this single expression. These different ways denote the intensity of affection and love that the sender wants to put across. A single X denotes just a kiss. It can be perceived as charming or a warm greeting. O’s are not used by themselves, but only in the company of X. Using each, X and O once, that is, XO stands for one kiss, one hug. It is quicker to give a loving greeting or sign-off to one’s family or friends, occasionally used to address the significant other.

    • XOXO uses double Xs and double Os and is considered an extremely delightful way to address the receiver. It means covering the person on the receiving end of the letter, text, or email with lots of hugs and kisses. This passionate version of this phrase is reserved for your loved ones, mostly the significant other. Sometimes, XOXO is used in a quirky manner and rarely used as a pun. With such a wide range that this expression offers to denote, it has rightfully been passed on for usage from one generation to another.

  2. Using XOXO At The End Of Wedding Invitations
    • What is XOXO, if not an expression of love? Marriages carry an aura of love and affection all around. It possesses a special ambiance of happiness, banter, dedication, and hope of eternity. The expression captures these emotions of love and affection. We can only hope that all marriages are a lifelong success, just like the long-lasting and ever-relevant expression XOXO. It is a pleasant idea to include the expression of showering hugs and kisses on a wedding invitation to fill the occasion with unconditional love, hugs, and kisses.

    • The couple can choose various ways in which they would like to engrave XOXO on their wedding invitation. They can also use some help from a professional graphic designer to design a unique logo for the same. A professional graphic designer will be able to make the logo unique and adjust it to the wants of the couple and thus make it suit the style of the couple. The senders will set the warm, welcoming tone to the invite by sending out invitations with XOXO.

      The invitation will be full of love and greetings that send out an extremely positive vibe. Another advantage in addition to that is that the couple does not have to worry about their logo or invite going out of trend. Use of XOXO is not limited to wedding invites but can also be used in the menu, table cards, seating cards, or escort cards.

    • Some people also like to use XOXO in their cocktail hour. This could be an attempt to make the guests feel comfortable and relaxed, thereby encouraging them to have fun. Various interesting ideas emerge from using XOXO in the cocktail hour. One can use drinks with these names, straws of these shapes, similarly ice cubes of the shape of X and O. In addition to that, there can be snacks of these shapes and napkins too! People can have seating cards with either X or O inscribed, and they can be requested to be seated in the order of X O X O and so on.

    • XOXO can be elegantly inscribed on the reception cake. Multiple frosting and cake decor ideas can be used to make the same interesting and unique. Some couples also prefer the use of XOXO in their wedding decor in balloons or props that can be used in the photo booth. If you feel all of this can be overwhelming for the guests, stick to XOXO that suits your style the best.

  3. XOXO In A Group Chat
    • It is necessary to comprehend the meaning of XOXO before sending it in a group chat. It is not a formal greeting, and thus, usage of XOXO should be avoided in a group chat that consists of your bosses or a large number of colleagues. Instead, it is an affectionate greeting that signifies sending hugs and kisses to the other end. The use of XOXO would be appropriate in a group chat that consists of friends and family. It is an expression that would depict your love for your beloved parents and other family members.

    • Unlike other acronyms and phrases that particularly belong to your generation, XOXO is a term that your parents would easily understand as they have most definitely come across it and probably even used it. Similarly, it is suitable to use this expression with your friends as they are the family we choose for ourselves and we should never forget to express our affection for them.

  4. XOXO In Personal Message/ Chat/ Email
    • The use of XOXO in a personal chat is very subjective. It depends entirely upon the relationship between the sender and the receiver. In the case of a formal relationship such as that of a boss and employee or student and teacher/ professor, the use of XOXO is not absolutely suitable. The abbreviation of hugs and kisses as XOXO should be sent on a personal chat when the relationship between the sender and receiver is that of family, friends, or commitment for one another.

    • Most commonly, it is sent on a personal chat to the significant other of a person. You would want them to receive virtual hugs and kisses until you can see them in person. Thus, it is a relevant manner to describe love and affection in such cases. Its deep-rooted meaning and established traditions make it a fitting means to express your emotions for family and friends.

      Sometimes XOXO is used to denote banter and goofiness in personal messages or emails with friends. This gleeful expression is a perfect sign-off for a conversation with a close friend. It signifies deep-rooted friendship. One may consider using the different variations of XOXO for a personal chat with friends, family, and significant others, respectively.

  5. XOXO In A Blog
    • That is one trick we learned from one of the unique fictional bloggers ever. We are talking about Gossip Girl here. She signed off on all of her posts as “You know you love me, XOXO Gossip Girl.” Even though there was a crafty, clever tone to that sentence, it is still a delightful way to sign off from a blog post. A blogger would want the visitors on their site to feel comfortable and relaxed. They want them to stay there and explore more through the site. This is possible when the visitors feel welcomed and have fun exploring the site. By now, we definitely know that XOXO is a term that is familiar to all ages and most probably familiar to people across the globe.

    • Thus, to show endearment and warmth, this expression is a good idea for blogs. In addition to that, it resembles your affection and fondness for the visitors to your site. The more comfortable they get and more welcomed they feel, the more likely they are to stay on the website and engage with your content. For the same reasons, XOXO is used as a sign-off in birthday invitations and wedding invitations. The expression manages to surround the reader with the warmth of affectionate words.

How To Use XOXO In A Sentence

To use XOXO in a sentence, the first and foremost requirement is to understand the meaning of this expression. If you plan on using it often, it would be good to know its origin and history as well. Then, you can use it on various events as discussed above. We are sharing some examples of using XOXO in a sentence as follows:

  • You know I love you, Xoxo.
  • Hope to see you soon. Xoxo.
  • Xoxo, Adam.
  • “New York, I Love You XOXO” is received positively by the critics.

How To Reply On Receiving XOXO?

If you wrestle with multiple replies in your head before you reply to a text or email that mentions XOXO, then you are not alone. It is only reasonable to feel overwhelmed on receiving such a message via any means, especially through a text when you are expected to reply to it immediately.

Sometimes, it feels perfectly comfortable and easy to reply to XOXOs as you receive them from someone you share a comfortable equation with. However, when you are figuring out a relationship, it becomes a struggle to reply to XOXO. With the hope to make this struggle a little easier for you, we are sharing some ways you can reply to XOXO.

  1. Millennial Slang Words
    • Some slang words will help you to depict your stand politely. These include “Ooo,” “Awe,” etc. Where “Ooo” symbolizes hugs, similarly, “Awe” denotes friendliness. Both of these words show that the receiver is not interested in using XOXOs in the future. It is a polite way of saying that you are only interested in friendship.

  2. Meet Me Soon For Non-Virtual Hugs And Kisses
    • This is a suitable reply for XOXO when it is received from a close friend who understands your mutual relationship in the same manner as you. The same reply is also suitable to share with close family members you would love to shower with hugs and kisses. In addition to them, they can also be used for your significant others.

  3. I Love You
    • It is appropriate for close relationships. You should be certain that the receiver would understand the context of this reply just as you want them to. It shows affection and should be sent to the people you cherish and trust.

  4. XOXO
    • Hugs and kisses in reply to hugs and kisses. This denotes comfort in the relationship. Your friends would know what you mean, and your family would love to receive these hugs and kisses from you.

  5. Definitely Not! 
    • The reply is meant to be received in a friendly spirit. Other slang words such as “Yuck” can also be used. However, it should only be sent to someone who can surely take such banter from you. Previous conversations in the relationship will help you understand the type of jokes that are exchanged and how they are handled. For the sake of your friendship, you should only send it to the people who can handle such jokes and lighthearted insults.

Some researchers, namely Stephen Goranson, disagree with the various theories that propose XOXO to mean hugs and kisses. Goranson, a researcher at Duke University, argues that X means blessings and not kisses. However, he adds that the terms to denote and symbolize blessings and kisses have been intertwined on more occasions than one in history. Even though today we have emoticons, stickers, and Gifs on various social media platforms that we use to send hugs and kisses, the trend of XOXO has not become absolutely outdated either.

It is accurate to say that the term XOXO has successfully managed to stick around for a long time (few centuries, to say the least) and continues to do so. It is still used in conversations, emails, and text chats to show love and affection. There have been popular shows that have used XOXO and made it sound trending to the next generation, and other old-school people love to use it too. This lighthearted expression accurately captures the sincerity in showering the person on the receiving end with hugs and kisses. What better way to end this article by saying XOXO? You know you’ll be using it too.