Once upon a time, signing a missive with "xoxo" was kind of flirty, using the letters to signify a cheeky wink to more than just a "sincerely" or "best wishes." But since then, we've seen the heart-shaped Halloween candies, clothing lines, and, of course, Gossip Girl, forever changing what those two little letters mean. For women, Cup Of Jo's Joanna Goddard posits, "xoxo" has taken on a whole new life as the de facto sign-off in emails.
Jo cites an Atlantic article that talks about honing in one women's "tonal antennae" and our sensitivity to certain linguistic constructions. A period at the end of a command, for instance, can sound brisk. So, like "dear" before it, "xoxo" has taken over as the way we sign our emails, professional or not. As Jo confesses, "'Xoxo'-ing has become such a habit that I feel kind of mean when I don't include it."
While some people might criticize the sig as being cutesy or too precious, it has indeed become acceptable in the workplace — Diane Sawyer uses it so much that its omission can cause newsroom panic. The casual, once-intimate way of saying "hugs and kisses" is now a friendly and easy way of sending gentle kindness without seeming overly affectionate. Gone are the days when "xoxo" literally means hugs and kisses, because, as Jo writes, "xoxo doesn't actually mean 'kiss' anymore (at least, I'm not planning to kiss my accountant, sweet as he is)." (Cup Of Jo)
Photo: Via Cup Of Jo, Refinery29