Okay, so there are two very different definitions for the label 'emo'.

First version (usually used by non-emos): Emos are attention seekers who live regular lives like every other teenager in Britain but cannot handle the strain as well as everyone else. They say that they are individuals, yet listen to ‘emo music’, hang out in ‘emo groups’ and buy ‘emo clothes’ with their pocket money. They hang out in dark rooms generally ignoring the happy things in life and talk about how depressed they are all the time. Most lie about cutting themselves in order for people to feel sorry for them without actually experiencing any pain at all. Others do it as an ‘initiation’ ceremony in order to become fully emo. ‘Cutting’ is a fad – what on earth does it help? You feel sad, so you cut yourself to make you feel… better? They don’t appreciate what they have, and do not realise how bad other peoples' lives are in comparison to their own. Emo is just an ever-increasingly popular ‘group’ which people want to be part of. It is a group for kids without an identity, looking for a bit of melodrama and ‘deeper levels of understanding’. To be honest, the kids who REALLY have a life not worth living aren’t even in the emo club – they just try to get through each day until it gets better.

Second version (usually used by TRUE emos – i.e. those who actually have a reason to be depressed): Kids who have had the misfortune to go through circumstances which are incredibly depressing. For example, parental divorce, death of a loved one, and loneliness. They listen to music which explains how they feel, enjoy hanging around with people who understand how they feel, and buy clothes that express to the world about how they feel. Only some kids cut themselves. Cutting can become addictive, and it distracts from the inner pain. It can be hard when youre labelled in the street because of what you wear, and can sometimes make depression worse. Being a ‘half-emo’ can also mean that you just like black and emo clothes and haircuts, and enjoy gigs and mosh pits. Some people that you like because theyre genuinely nice people, could be emo, and fun to hang around with.

Nearly every single teenager has wanted some form of attention or feeling of belonging at some time or other, and being emo could be the solution to some. Don’t hate people because of what they are labelled. Get to know them – they may be more like you than you think.
Person: 'Hey dude, look over there, some damn emos with their black hoodies and weird hair... jeez man theyre such attention seekers'
Friend: 'Err... you own a black hoodie, and all they've done is grown their hair long, man.'
Person:'Umm... oh be quiet, fool'

Cheerleader:'Oh my god, that girl is like, SOO weird - she is like, always DEPRESSED and shit!'
Friend:'Weren't you crying on the phone to me the other night because your boyfriend dumped you? You seemed pretty depressed then...'
Cheerleader:'Oh shuttup'
by abi_yeah April 14, 2007
I looked at the other definitions, and there seems to few people on here that actually know what they're talking about. So I thought I'd add mine, with a bit of history and background information...

1976 saw the birth of punk, bringing with it many sub-genres, sub-sub-genres, and sub-sub-sub-sub-genres. In the early 80s, punk had branched off into several different styles, and ways of taking the genre. In 1981 there was a large amount of "hardcore" bands emerging from the D.C. scene. One of these bands were called "Minor Threat", who had a very vibrant, and melodic sound.

Nearing the end of 1983, the band "Minor Threat" broke up, after the band seemed to "run out of steam", and their last 7" single "Salad Days" in 1984 finally killed the band, and the DC hardcore scene.

After that new bands emerged, taking the genre their own way. 1984 showed the release of "Zen Arcade", an album by minneapolis band "Husker Du". This interpretation showed much more powerful, intense vocals with slow, melancholy and more melodic song writing.

In Spring 1984, D.C. Hardcore band "Rites of Spring" emerged, taking inspiration from the earlier hardcore scene. The band brought a totally new vocal approach to Husker Du's original style.

Summer 1985 became known as the "revolution summer" when a whole wave of hardcore bands emerged from the D.C. scene such as Gray Matter, Soulside, Ignition and Dag Nasty. Few bands retained the original fast paced, hardcore style proposed by "Rites of Spring" and "Husker Du" but took a much more droney, melodic approach to the genre.

These bands were then labelled the "D.C. Sound" or "D.C. Hardcore", and some of them were labelled "emo".

It was never suggested by Rites Of Spring that the term "emo" was short for anything. Although it has been proposed that emo was short for "emotive hardcore" or "emotionally charged hardcore punk" in a 1985 flipside interview with the band they claimed they were "not a punk rock band" and it was never mentioned in the text that they were "emotional" or "emotive" although the term "emo" was used several times.

Again, people took the genre several ways. Some people took an "Indie-rock" approach to the genre, while others retained a "post hardcore" style.

Many emo bands were poorly paid, underground, and rarely heard of, and few records were ever released around the genre. Which is probably why today it is so easily mistaken and misunderstood.

The "D.C. hardcore scene" grew, and with it, a stereotype fashion. People with a "Mop-top" haircut, skinny t-shirts and old trainers became a classic "D.C. hardcore scene" cliche. However, not all of these were "emo fans" nor were they in any way "emo's". It is suggested that this idea was taken, and progressed through the nineties to a much more "geeky" look nowadays.

However, emo is a genre of music, argue all you like, your still wrong. Saying "I am an emo" is like saying "I am a jazz", which is not possible. Emo has been heavily marketed by magazines (Kerrang etc.) and a totally wrong idea of the genre is now being spread across youths.

The early 90s saw a last breath for emo, with a much more softer, "Indie-rock" take on the genre. After that, the rest is history. It's a shame the genre was dragged through the gutter like that.
Emo - Rites Of Spring, Dag Nasty, SDRE, Drive Like Jehu, Fugazi...

What? - GUYS IN GIRL PANTS R HOT!!!11

Anything to do with 14 year old girls instantly becomes void of the possibility of it having anything to do with emo.
by Jorj May 25, 2006
1.Most overused word in high school.
2.Word people always feel like they have to tell you the "true" meaning of.
1. Ah they are so emo and now chad is emo and i hate emos and we should go make fun of emos and...hey watch it queer emo, oh that dumb emo just bumped into me
2.People think emo stands for emotional but really it is.......
by Rorschsch February 12, 2009
The look a guy has when he catches his dick in his zipper.
No wonder Chet looked really emo last night, he had a zipper accident.
by benth August 21, 2008
1. Short for "emotive". Coined by Ian MacKaye, commonly known from Fugazi and Minor Threat.
2. Type of music characterized by heartfelt, although sometimes whiny lyrics.
3. Person who listens to afformentioned type of music. Stereotypically wears too-small sweaters and tight jeans, black horn-rimmed glasses, and straight black hair, although this is not always true. Sometimes a vegan, sometimes straight edge.
Look at that emo kid pouring his heart out on stage.
by Sapnotaja March 05, 2004
Emo was first a music genre, but now it is sometimes accepted as a social clique.
What most people think it is, is someone that wears mostly dark clothing, guys that where eyeliner, and they all cut themselves.
What I have found it to actually be is people who might not have the hardest of lives, but just enough problems to make them think they do. They are not as sad as people think though, they only want other people to think they are. It is just the same as someone who over uses jokes because they have a low self esteem, except sad instead of glad. They might write poetry, where make up, skinny jeans, and stuff, but most "emo" guys are straight. And emo's who are not faking it do not like to be called emo. they are just whoever they are, without labels. the conception that they cut themselves is wrong. some do, but I've met a few preps who take out a razor, to. emo's are just as conforming as all the rest, and the real ones will admit it. they aren't trying to be abnormal, they just like how they look.
-wanna be: hey look at me scars!!! im emo now!! :D
-real thing: no your not. your just a poser and your stupid.
by //ErikKastles// January 21, 2009
1. E-mos, commonly found reciprocating in livejournals, exclusive/uber-trendy chatrooms, myspace, or your local Starbucks with their wireless mac laptop
(Let it be noted that whether the E-mo uses myspace, they will have a vast quantity of pictures, mostly of themselves posing...somehow.)
1a. Aside from computer proficiency, they maintain the same characteristics of an emo or hipster
1. "id0pa: Hey, emo kid!
Auto response from Rachelle: how sad this is what your life has been reduced to, a single room apartment containing no more than a mattress. how sad the strings have been removed from the blinds and all the outlets have been painted over. the television screen is streaked with blood smeared from your knuckles as you were trying to punch it out but you underestimated its strength. or maybe you just weren't trying hard enough. startled by a knock at the door you rise for the first time in two days to answer, but you can only greet the visitor with one short statement. hello my first name is distance and i really don't care if i never wake up again. hello my name is distance and i really don't care if i never wake up again. hello i really don't care if i never wake up again. i really don't care if i never wake up again.
Id0pa: You don't say!"

2. "xiwishiwascoolx: lets mosh and hold hands at the same time"
by id0pa December 13, 2004
Emo is whatever you think it is, its different for everyone.
That emo is all depressed and stuff, while that emo is all happy, and that emo is just plain strange.
by HappyEmo January 27, 2008

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