Using the letter “X” as a kiss dates back to the Middle Ages. - FactzPedia

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Using the letter “X” as a kiss dates back to the Middle Ages.

 

Using the letter “X” as a kiss dates back to the Middle Ages.


Sometimes if you want to be cute and write a love letter to your significant other, you’ll sign it off with “XOXO,” as everyone knows means “hugs and kisses”.

It seems so normal to us, but no one ever questions the origins of this funky signature.

Back in the Middle Ages, many people couldn’t read or write. Peasants especially were sadly illiterate.

So if they had to sign a document, they would write “X” as a substitute for their signature, and then kiss the document as a symbol of honesty.

The art of writing longhand may have faded, but many of us continue to emit x’s and o’s like a binary love code in the e-mails that consume our daily lives.

Where do those symbols come from, these ur-emoticons that we sprinkle so liberally across our correspondence?

The Internet abounds with origin theories. There are visual explanations: that “x” resembles a kiss, for example; that “o” looks like an embrace or the union of bodies; and that “x” and “o” together form a kiss on a face. Then there are auditory explanations, such as the similarity in the pronunciation of “x” and “kiss.”

There is no definitive answer to how a cross came to mean a kiss, but it’s most likely to have evolved from the written tradition. The symbol x is the letter taw in early Hebrew (and in Ezekiel, a mark set “upon the foreheads” of men) and chi in Greek.

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