What Does <3 Mean?

<3 means "love."

(The two characters - which literally mean "less than three" - form a picture of a heart on its side.)

Why is a heart "heart-shaped"? You will know from your Biology lessons that a human heart is not heart-shaped. Nevertheless, the classic heart shape (♥) is recognized globally as being a heart. The origin of the heart shape is difficult to determine. There are three leading theories:
  • (Theory 1). The heart shape comes from the shape of ivy leaves, which are linked to fidelity.
  • (Theory2). The heart shape comes from the shape of breasts and the bum.
  • (Theory 3). The heart shape comes from the silphium plant (a giant fennel), which the ancient Greeks and Romans used as an early form of birth control. (Silphium's seed pod is heart-shaped.)
Why does a heart mean love? The heart is globally recognized as a symbol of love, but why? Born around 424BC, the Greek philosopher Plato was among the first to claim that the heart was linked to our strongest emotions, including love. His observations undoubtedly derived from noting that our hearts beat in concert with emotions such as fear, anger, rage, pain, and love. The Greek philosopher Aristotle expanded on Plato's finding, claiming that the heart ruled over all human processes, not just emotions. Ever since, we have continued to associate love with our hearts.

More Terms Like <3

Of interest, the icon <3 has given rise to other terms linked to love. For example:

Dozens of Ways of Saying "I Love You" Online

Here is a video summarizing the different ways of saying "I love you" online.

Summary of Key Points

"Love" is the most common definition for <3 on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
1: Easy to guess
Typical Users:
Adults and Teenagers

Image for <3

When I write <3, I mean this:

meaning of <3
<3 is a heart lying on its side. It means "love."


Examples of <3 in Sentences

Here are examples of <3 being used in conversations:
  • Tony: Did you get the flowers?
  • Jordan: I <3 them.
  • Tony: I love you
  • Jordan: <3U2
Learn dozens more ways of saying "I love you" online.

An Academic Look at <3

<3 is classified as an icon because it dipicts what it represents.

Using Numbers in Texts

This video shows the different ways that numbers are used in "text speak":

Example of <3 Used in a Text


See Also

New ways to say I love you Text-speak using just numbers A list of dating terms