When you have a chat with someone via text, you’d probably use emojis to express your feelings. This is the case in Japanese, too — and that is quite evident since the term “emoji” is loaned from the Japanese word 絵文字 (emoji) in the first place.
In addition to those 絵文字s, the Japanese language also has other types of terms that help you deliver your emotions in a casual conversation. These terms are written in brackets and put at the end of a sentence or phrase, the most famous one of which is probably “(笑)”, often translated as (lol) in English. This post provides you with a list of such bracketed expressions and their meanings/usages in detail!
It stands for “笑い (warai)”, meaning “a laugh”, and is nearly equivalent to “(lol)” in English. These days, it is also common to omit brackets, i.e. “笑” or use the left bracket only, i.e. “(笑”, and some people argue that (笑) is a bit outdated. Besides, some people feel that (笑) sometimes contains a more derisive and provocative tone than 笑 because of the emphasis put by the brackets. Regarding 笑, it is also common to repeat the character multiple times as in 笑笑笑 similar to “lololol” in English, but if you do this using (笑), that can sound very derisive and offensive.
In addition to 笑 and (笑), nowadays the term 草, which originally means “grass”, is also used as their alternative. Its origin is that the first character of “warai” is “w” and it looks like 草 (“grass”). However, its tone is (in my eyes and ears) significantly different from 笑, with 草 being more associated with heavy users of online forums like 5ch (similar to Reddit and 4chan), which could deliver an awkward and/or negative impression depending on the situation (imagine using Reddit jargon on Facebook). Therefore, you should be careful of using it on the internet, let alone in real life. Having said that, the number of people using 草 has been increasing recently, and its jargonish connotation may fade away in the future (but still many people limit its use on online forums or social media such as Twitter).
え、ありがとう（笑） or 笑
Oh, thanks (lol)
That’d be impossible for him/her (lol)
（笑）could make the sentence sound more derisive than 笑
It stands for 爆笑 (bakushou), meaning “laugh so hard”. Therefore, it is stronger than (笑) and the closest English term is probably “lmao”. However, fewer people are using it nowadays and it’s getting out of date.
What, did I say such a thing? I forgot everything (lmao)
Yes, this is not a typo; just brackets without any word between them. This “term” was coined from (笑) by omitting 笑, and is usually used when you ridicule or sneer at someone/something, or self-deprecate yourself (see the examples below). Not only put at the end of a sentence, but it is also often used after a word that you want to show contempt for.
Not that, however, since it is sort of “deep” internet slang jargon — probably more so than 草, which I mentioned above in the section of (笑) —, some people may not understand its meaning whatsoever. Therefore, you may want to use it only on Twitter or some online forums, or when you text a very close friend who has a taste for those kinds of terms.
an idol who is too —wait for it— “angelic”
If you read this book, apparently you can “master” Japanese in three days.
I completely forgot I had an exam today (haha…)
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白目 literally means “white eye(s)” and often indicates (figuratively) that your eyes are rolled up because you are completely drained of energy and spirit. Therefore, when （白目） is put at the end of a sentence, that means the person is under an extremely problematic circumstance. Usually, it is used with a positive word/phrase that jokes about one’s hapless situation in a self-deprecating way (see the examples below).
Because I have five exams next week, I’m looking forward to it (eyes rolled up)
Since I got fired today, I’ll have plenty of time to do games from tomorrow (eyes rolled up).
* In Japanese, the emoji with halo 😇 is used in a similar way to （白目）. This is because we regard this emoji as a dead person rather than an angel or symbol of innocence.
Tomorrow, I have to wake up at 5 in the morning 😇 (I’m so dead).
It stands for 怒り (ikari, “anger”) and is mostly equivalent to the angry emoji 😡
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It stands for 泣き (naki, “crying”) and is mostly equivalent to the crying emojis 😂 or 😭.
汗 means “sweat” and is mostly equivalent to the sweat emojis 💦, or 😅
This one is a bit of an outliner in this list, as it can be used in both formal and casual contexts. It stands for 省略 (shouraku), meaning “abbreviation/omission”, and is used when you omit something; in this sense, it is similar to an ellipsis mark or three dots (…) in English. It’s more commonly used as （以下略）(ika ryaku) meaning “omitting the rest”. On the internet forums such as 5ch, people used to use “(ry” as a further abbreviated expression of (以下略), but it’s getting outdated nowadays.
My boss is always criticising me and he is so (the rest omitted)