You’ve certainly used it yourself more than once: ending an SMS with an ‘X’ when “sending” a kiss to the recipient. But even though we became so familiar with this symbol and we barely think about it, have you ever really wondered why this letter came to mean kiss?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first use of X as a kiss reference can be traced back to 1763, when naturalist Gilbert White wrote a letter that ended “I am with many a xxxxxxx and many a Pater noster and Ave Maria, Gil White.”
As usually happens in these cases, there are many theories as to why this came to be: (the article continues after the ad)
One theory suggests that > and < look like people’s lips – by joining them we create an X. Others say that the word “kiss” does sound a bit like X when pronounced. Well, even though all these explanations are quite amusing, today we look at the most plausible theory.
“The X has always been a Christian symbol, and it is the first Greek letter in the name of ‘Christ. As far as I can tell, official letters in the medieval period and even after were literally sealed with the X — sealed with a kiss of faith, I guess.”
Danesi also explains that X was by illiterate people when signing documents. They literally plant a physical kiss on their X signature:
“From this domain, the X jumped into another domain, also to signify kissing but a different kind of kissing — romantic, rather than religious. At some point this became a symbolic practice among everyone.”
It’s important here to once again note that, despite this being a plausible scenario, it still is speculative. But at least now you know the most possible explanation.
If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: What Does The “X” in Xmas Stand For?
Photo: HaseebPhotography / Pixabay, gdakaska / Pixabay
Photoshop: I’m A Useless Info Junkie
Sources: How ‘X’ became the universal symbol for a kiss | A whole lot of history behind ‘x’ and ‘o,’ kiss and hug | Where did the custom of ? Xs and Os at the bottom of a letter come from?