Hugs and Kisses

Hugs and Kisses also known as Love and Kisses is a term for a sequence of the letters X and O, e.g. XOXO, typically used to express affection or good friendship at the end of a written letter or email.

It is debatable which letter represents which act. The less common interpretation assumes that X represents the four lips of a kiss and O the four arms of a hug. For example, the Oxford English Dictionary states that X is "used to represent a kiss, esp. in the subscription to a letter." A more common interpretation assumes X as the crossed arms of a hug and O as the puckered lips of a kiss. Also, the order is normally spoken "Hugs and Kisses" which would correspond to the order that the x's and o's are written. Additionally, there is a another interpretation, based on the pronunciation of the letters X (sounds like 'kiss') and O (sounds like 'hold', as in 'I hold you').

The use of XOXO goes back to the use of an X or cross, which was considered as good as a sworn oath in times before most people could write and therefore used the X in the same way a signature is used today - a mark of one's word. An X at the end of a letter or document was often kissed as a seal of honesty, in much the same way one would kiss a Bible or kiss the fingers after making the sign of the Christian cross. Thus the X came to represent a kiss in modern times.

The origins of the O as a hug are not generally known, although it is speculated that it may represent the arms wrapped around someone being hugged.

In popular culture

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