How Did XOXO Come to Mean Hugs and Kisses? | Summary and Q&A

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July 28, 2018
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Today I Found Out
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How Did XOXO Come to Mean Hugs and Kisses?

TL;DR

The use of "X" to represent kisses dates back to the Middle Ages and "O" to represent hugs has uncertain origins.

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Questions & Answers

Q: Why did people sign documents with an "X" in the Middle Ages?

Many people in the Middle Ages were illiterate, and signing with an "X" represented a Christian cross symbol, asserting the truthfulness of the document.

Q: How did the "X" symbol come to represent kisses?

The first recorded usage of "X" to mean kisses came in 1763, but it may have actually meant "blessings." The definitive origin of this symbolism is still uncertain.

Q: What are the possible origins of the "O" symbol representing hugs?

One theory suggests that illiterate Jewish immigrants used a circle as their signature, leading to the association of Jews with circles and the derogatory slur "kike." It is also speculated that tic-tac-toe may have influenced the use of the "O" symbol for hugs.

Q: Why do we say "hugs and kisses" instead of "kisses and hugs" when using XOXO?

The exact reason is still debated, but one theory is that it's because one doesn't want to presumptuously go for a kiss before a hug.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The use of "X" to sign documents originated in the Middle Ages as a way for illiterate people to assert that the contents were true, using the Christian cross symbolism. This eventually led to "Xmas" as an alternative name for Christmas.

  • The "X" symbol representing kisses first appeared in a letter in 1763, but it may have actually meant "blessings" instead.

  • The origins of the "O" symbol representing hugs are uncertain, with theories suggesting it came from illiterate Jewish immigrants or tic-tac-toe.

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