110
votes

Today is Halloween. After a successful party, many conversations have been going on in my company's email box.

The end of one email said "Till next time J". I had no idea what "J" meant in this sentence and thought it could be a typo. Then I opened another email which read "Thanks to Diana for all her hard work J".

I figure the letter "J" must mean something here, but I'm not sure whether it only makes sense within my company or if it has a universally accepted meaning.

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    Who is the sender of the email or emails? Is their name John or Jane or Jemima or Jacob or Jacinto? Commented Oct 31, 2011 at 19:30
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    Wow, thanks for this question. I've also seen this a couple of times and thought it was some new slang for a smiley face which I was too behind the times to know of, but the fact that it's a font issue is even stranger than my wildest imagination. Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 16:14
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    Surely this is off-topic? Commented Feb 14, 2012 at 2:01
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic. It's clearly interesting to many people, but it turned out not to be about English: it's about a technical error in the encoding of emoticons.
    – herisson
    Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 2:15
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    I have also flagged it and suggested it be put on historical lock: I hope that will occur if it is closed so that it can be preserved as an important question from the earlier years of this site.
    – herisson
    Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 4:03

1 Answer 1

146
votes

It is a smiley:☺.

What does "J" mean in e-mail messages?

Answer: If you've ever received an e-mail with a mysterious "J" in the body of the message, you may have been perplexed by its meaning. Some messages have a single J, while others have several. Most J's appear at the end of sentences, but they can appear anywhere in the message So what does this enigmatic character mean and why does it show up in e-mail messages?

The J is actually supposed to be a smiley face.

If you have Wingdings installed on your computer, the following character will appear as a smiley face. Otherwise, it will be the letter "J": J

This is because the letter J represents a smiley face icon in the Wingdings font. Microsoft Outlook, a popular e-mail client, automatically converts the :) and :-) text emoticons into smiley face icons using the Wingdings font. Therefore, when Microsoft Outlook users type smiley faces in an e-mail message, they are sent as visual smiley face icons.

Take a look at this The Old New Thing blog post: if you try to copy the first little smiley, and then paste it somewhere else, the result is a J.

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    I use outlook and I can confirm that messages with smileys in them show J in that position in previews, and in quoted text in the replies. Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 10:45
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    Great, yet another reason to abhor HTML and RTF emails :)
    – calum_b
    Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 15:29
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    @scottishwildcat: Rather, to abhor ad-hoc fonts that map letters to strange glyphs. (I don't know anyone who sends email in RTF, fortunately.) The problem here is that what is being transmitted is semantically the letter J, which is being depended on to look visually like a smiley on in one particular misguided font... this would be bad even on the web, independent of email. Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 16:17
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    Bizarre! I wasn't aware of this. Another reason why Unicode is good...
    – alcas
    Commented Dec 9, 2011 at 22:36
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    I really hate when programs (IM clients are a particularly bad offender) try to convert text smileys to visual smileys. Not only can it cause compatibility problems exactly like this, but the text smileys look better!. If I typed :) then damnit that's exactly what I want the receiving party to see. (Same goes when someone types that to me -- I don't want it converted to an image to presented to me).
    – Ben Lee
    Commented Apr 13, 2012 at 19:50

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