An emoticon is an emotional icon, or a pictorial representation of the emotions of the moment. These are most commonly created on one line using the symbols on the keyboard. Humor is often denoted with the smiley face :-) which is more obvious if you tilt your head to the left. ["Acronyms, Emoticons, and Lurkers," PC Magazine, August 1992]
pictorial character, by 2008, from Japanese e "picture" + moji "character" (compare kanji), coined 1999 in Japanese by Shigetaka Kurita, NTT DoCoMo employee. Its adoption in English was driven by Apple iPhone's inclusion of the feature in 2008. The similarity to native emoticon is a happy coincidence.