Originally coined in 2004 by one Michael John Keegan, <4 was created to be a play on the ever-popular internet code for love, <3. It has since become a fad, thought by many to have originated as a typo rather than an entity all its own, and has been reabsorbed into the tween culture that prompted its creation.
Phrases utilizing <4 require unusually hammy dialogue; e.g., OMG I <4 U.
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