The average English speaker probably doesn’t realise that ‘xoxo’ means nothing to people who don’t speak English. Even my French friends who spoke English really well, and understood that an ‘x’ was a kiss and an ‘o’ was a hug, didn’t really understand how those two letters represented a kiss and a hug.
In France, the ‘xoxo’ equivalent is ‘bisous!’ (meaning kisses!) and can be used with everyone. You can shorten it and write ‘biz’ to make it more casual. If you want to step it up a notch you can write ‘gros bisous’ (literally fat kisses) or if you want to be a little romantic, you can write ‘je t’embrasse’ (I kiss you).
I don’t really remember how it came up, but whilst I was dating Matthieu I had to explain how to write ‘xoxo’ when we sent text messages.
“An ‘x’ means a kiss” I told him, “and an ‘o’ means a hug, so if you write ‘xo’ that means a ‘kiss and a hug.”
“Ooh….” he said, fascinated. “So, can I just write ‘xo’ in a text to say bonjour?”
I quickly visualised receiving a text from someone just containing ‘xo’.
“Hm… no, not usually. You have to put it at the end of the text message” I explained.
“Ooh… So, what if you put more than one ‘xo’?”
“Well, one ‘xo’ can be for anyone, like a friend but if you write ‘xoxo’ that’s usually for flirting.” Even though I have a few close friends who sometimes wrote ‘xoxo’ to me, I decided it was best to keep the concept simple.
That night I received a text message from him,
“Thank you for this first course in English text messaging! Xoxo :)”