Orz (also known as OTL) is an emoticon used to express one’s feeling of hopelessness in jest, often as a result of failure. The text visually represents a person kneeling on the ground with face down; “O” represents the head, “R” as the arms and “Z” as the torso. In East Asian cultures, the shape of “Orz” resembles a body gesture that signifies frustration or feeling of despair, typically as a result of one’s own failure though it can be used to convey frustration towards others similar to facepalm.
The physical gesture of “kneeling on the ground in defeat” has been previously portrayed through popular films, TV shows and mangas, both for comedic and dramatic effect. When used in a serious light, this posture is also known as dogeza, a sign of self-abasement used in formal apologies and to request great favors from persons of higher social status. According to Wikipedia, the emoticon was first used in late 2002 on the Japanese website Techside’s FAQ Forum. On the forum, a poster asked about a cable cover typing “＿|￣|○” to show a cable and its cover. Others commented that it looked like a kneeling person, and the symbol became popular. These comments were soon deleted as they were considered off-topic. However, one of the first corresponding reactions can be found on the thread in Techside Chitchat Forum (Techside一言板。) dating back to December 23th, 2002.