Words and Civilisation: The Kiss X or the X Kiss?

Who was it, that first had the idea of putting an x by the signature, to symbolise a kiss?In every social missive we receive, be it an e-mail, a card, or a text message, our contact’s name is appended with an x.  Sometimes, the x brings a friend along; sometimes two.  At other times, there is a troika, or even an entire party, standing in a row.


How did x mutate from the signature of illiterate people, to a smack of the lips?


For years now, I have been trying to solve the riddle of the x etiquette, without success.  Do you put an x whenever – given physical proximity – you would apply an actual kiss?  A former boss of mine, a stern man of, shall we say, inexpressive emotional expression, once signed my birthday card, adding an x.  I stared at the incongruous symbol, fully aware of the fact that the possibility of a physical peck on my cheek from said boss could only take place in a universe manifested through absinthe laced with gin.  More recently, a literary agent I approached sent me a text message and added the x next to his signature.  I shuddered.


Then, of course, there is the eternal question: how many of these little blighters do we put, and when?


x = Easy.  One kiss on the cheek.

x x = Two kisses.  One on each cheek.

x x x = Three kisses.  One cheek, the other, then back to the first.  Russian style.  Or does the third steal a kiss on the lips? Perhaps we had better not go there.

x x x x = ?

x x x x x = ???

x x x x x x x x x x x x… Aaargh! Help!


That’s it.  Let teenagers and twenty-somethings study the numerology of the x.  I am going to ignore it from now on, and dispense with its services.  My signature does not need accessorizing.  It does look a little naked on its own, though.  That’s all right.  It’s just a withdrawal symptom.  I can do this.  😘


© ScribeDoll

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