07 February 2014

Pondering the proper use of XOXOXOXOXO

From an essay in The Atlantic:
The use of xo to denote hugs and kisses dates back to at least 1763, when The Oxford English Dictionary first defined X as "kiss," but e‑mail and social media have provided a newly fertile habitat...

At first, its virtual identity was clear: a pithy farewell, sweeter than See you later, less personal than Love. Men could xo their wives. Girlfriends could xo girlfriends. It was a digital kiss—meant, of course, for somebody you’d actually kiss. But soon enough, nonstop e‑mails and IMs and tweets began to dilute its intimacy factor. “You could compare [it] to how the epistolary greeting Dear changed over time, originally just for addressing loved ones but eventually becoming neutral,” says Ben Zimmer, a linguist and lexicologist...

This gender divide has spawned a new breed of etiquette dilemmas, especially in the workplace. Can xo-ing colleagues shore up office alliances, or does the practice cross a line? Does one run the risk of being labeled a bitch for refusing to reciprocate? And what happens if a woman accidentally xo’s her male boss?

He almost certainly wouldn’t xo back, for fear of coming off as unauthoritative, unprofessional, or just plain creepy. Zimmer says he would never dare xo anyone but his wife (though the female editor of his Boston Globe column xx’s him frequently). Most men say xo has become so feminized, they wouldn’t even consider using it. “I’ve never signed an e‑mail, letter, text, stone tablet, smoke signal, or any other form of communication with xo,” says Brett Webster, a television producer in L.A. “Rightfully or wrongfully so, I would assume a guy who includes xo in correspondence is gay. Or a football coach.”
And, as always, I leave more at the source link.

Embedded image from Hipish.


  1. That's really strange. I would never consider writing "xox" to anyone I would not hug and kiss in person. Certainly not people at work.

  2. "television producer in L.A."

    A producer for Carson Daley is definitely the first person you want to seek etiquette advice from...

  3. I'm sorry but I could not find a search box on your page to do a search for "Chimera" so that I could link you to this article under a more apt post. nevertheless...


    1. Very interesting - and potentially blogworthy when I can find some time (prob next week).

      The search box is in the right sidebar between the "translate" and the "about me." Curiously it does not retrieve anything in response to "chimera," though I have used the word "chimeras" when writing about gynandromorphs -


      - and wrote one about chimeric apples -


      (When the ligit search in the sidebar fails, I often resort to finding things using Google with TYWKIWDBI+(word).

      Thank you, talcumX.

  4. This has nothing to do with this post. I just thought an article you might enjoy is a Vogue photographer taking a bath in Hitler's bathtub mere hours after he was reported dead: http://joannecasey.blogspot.com/2014/02/taking-photo-in-hitlers-bathtub-for.html

    1. Thank you, Aaron. I do monitor Joanne's blog occasionally, but I've been too busy recently. I'll bookmark the link for possible use when I get caught up.


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