Hugs and kisses

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Hugs and kisses, abbreviated in North America as XO or XOXO, is an informal term used for expressing sincerity, faith, love, or good friendship at the end of a written letter, email or text message. In the United Kingdom, the phrase 'hugs and kisses' is widely used but XO or XOXO are not (though X, XX etc. for 'kisses' is).


The common custom of placing "X" on envelopes, notes and at the bottom of letters to mean kisses dates back to the Middle Ages, when a Christian cross was drawn on documents or letters to mean sincerity, faith, and honesty.[1] A kiss was then placed upon the cross, by the signer as a display of their sworn oath. It was also used in early Christian history as much of a display of the same.

Since most of the common people could not read or write, the 'X' was placed on documents, and a kiss was placed over it as a show of their sincerity.[2] The Chi Rho, often represented with the letter 'X', was also used as a holy symbol throughout Christian history as it represented the Greek word for Christ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ; this gave rise to the practice of using the letter 'X', which was then kissed in this tradition of displaying a sacred oath.[1][3]

There is speculation on the Internet from at least one original source that the 'O' is of North American descent: when arriving in the United States, Jewish immigrants, most of whose first language was Yiddish, would use an 'O' to sign documents, thus not using the sign of the cross, and shop keepers would often use an 'O' when signing documents, in place of an 'X'.[4][5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "XOXO where did x and o come from?". Archived from the original on July 12, 2011. The custom goes back to the early Christian era, when a cross mark or "X" was the same as a sworn oath. The cross referred to the cross of Calvary and the first letter of the Greek word for Christ, Xristos.
  2. ^ "Why Does X Stand for a Kiss?". Archived from the original on October 31, 2014. This tertiary source reuses information from other sources but does not name them.
  3. ^ Epstein, Nadine. "A whole lot of history behind 'x' and 'o,' kiss and hug". Washington Post. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  4. ^ "XOXO where did x and o come from?". Archived from the original on July 12, 2011. In The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten, it is noted that illiterate immigrants (or those who did not know Roman-English letters) would generally sign entry forms with an "X" but Jews preferred an "O" to avoid making something that looked like a cross. Also, shopkeepers and salesmen would similarly sign receipts with a circle. Could this be the origin of the "O"?
  5. ^ Why Does "XOXO" Mean "Kisses and Hugs"? at