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Difference Between Goth And Emo

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Unless you are living under a rock, you might be aware of the terms ‘Emo’ and ‘Goth’. The terms ‘emo’ and ‘goth’ have got their origin from the punk genre of music. A lot of times people often confuse themselves between the meaning of each one of them and use them interchangeably which is completely wrong.

So you might be wondering what is the difference between ‘goth’ and ‘emo’? The main difference between goth and emo is that ‘goth’ has got a dark theme and introspective lyrics whereas ‘emo’ stands for emotional hardcore.

Now that you have understood the main difference, let’s have a look at what each of the terms means and what similarities and dissimilarities they share.

What Does The Term ‘Goth’ Mean?

2 people with goth style
2 people with goth style

Historically speaking, the word ‘Goth’ refers to a Germanic tribe who had invaded the Roman empire. However, in terms of music, ‘Goth’ is referred to as a type of punk music that focuses on a dark theme. It is mostly based on ideas about death, about the end of the world and some of the lyrics are also based on the ‘unknown’.

Moreover, people who prefer ‘goth’ music and wear clothes of darker shade that mostly vary between the shades of black, which are inspired by the Victorian era, and wear white tones of make-up. Also, black is also used to symbolize darkness or death which are the central themes of goth culture.

The ‘Goth culture’ has evolved a lot since its inception. It started out in the early ’70s in the UK and was influenced by disturbing events, tragic romance, and suicidal thoughts and this influenced the style of the people where they used to wear all black clothes and apply thick eyeliners.

In the ‘80s the style had changed a lot and people used to use it as an umbrella term for all sorts of music that had a gothic undertone. In today’s time, ‘goth’ dressing has changed a lot as compared to what it was before. However, the gothic dressing has still got a resemblance to the early punk spirit and with the amount of popularity that it has, it won't fade away.

What Does The Term ‘Emo’ Mean?

2 people with emo style
2 people with emo style

The word ‘Emo’ stands for ‘emotion’. ‘Emo’ is another style of punk music that involves the use of complex lyrics to express emotions. The tone that is being used is confessional and the visuals are more depictive. That is to say, it has got a more personal element to it.

EMO music, which is a  genre of rock music, emerged in the early 1980s. It was introduced by bands like ‘Rites Of Spring And Embrace’. During the 1990’s it gained more popularity and a lot of artists began to specialize in EMO music. 

It is very easy to identify a person who is a die-hard emo fan. Usually, an emo fan by nature is extremely sensitive, full of anxiety, and emotional. In terms of dressing, they prefer to wear tight T-shirts paired with skinny jeans and jet black hair.

Sometimes, people use the word ‘emo’ as a shortened version of the word ‘emotional’ to describe a person who is overly sensitive or has no control over his emotions.

Difference Between ‘Goth’ And ‘Emo’


‘Goth’  music focuses on dark themes and events related to non-conformism through different tones of music and performance.

‘Emo’ is a part of punk rock with emotional lyrics. It has acquired popularity in the 2000s due to the amount of relatability with the lyrics.

Used For

‘Goth’ stands for ‘Gothic Rock’  whereas ‘Emo’ stands for emotional hardcore.

Popular In

‘Goth’ music has gained popularity in the entire world.

Whereas, ‘Emo’ music has gained popularity in the USA and is most dominant in the regions of Washington DC, Long Island, and New Jersey.


‘Goth’ music has the tendency to show hate towards the entire world. Whereas, ‘emo’ music portrays the feeling of hatred towards the human race but embraces nature.

Comparison Chart: ‘Goth’ Vs ‘Emo

Point Of DifferenceGothEmo
MusicPunk rock, metal, glam rock, and similar styles.Indie rock, hardcore punk, rock, pop, and alternative.
Instruments UsedIt has got three main instruments that are the guitar, drums and the bass.All forms of instruments are used to create the tunes.
Attire/StylePunk style and rebel look.The attire is mostly black or a shade of black. ‘Emo’ people usually wear skinny jeans, band t-shirts, and converse or vans.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do ‘Goth’ Fans Prefer To Wear Black Over Any Other Color?

It is usually observed that the people who are die-hard fans prefer to wear black. This is because ‘Goth’ music mainly revolves around ‘Death’, ‘darkness’, ‘night’, and mysteries or conspiracies that lie in the universe.

All these themes are represented by the color black and that is why the visuals, as well as the people, are seen in the shades of black.

Why did ‘Emo’ music gain so much popularity in the 2000s?

‘Emo’ lyrics are usually used to express the feelings that are associated with depression, anxiety, socially oppressed people, and so on.

As this genre is based on the emotions that people usually feel a lot, it has gained popularity over a period of time.

Why Do Goth People Wear White Makeup?

‘Goth’ people usually wear dramatic makeup that has a tone of white to it. Some ‘goth’ fans even prefer skin that looks like that of a corpse.

This is because it makes their skin look pale and lifeless which resembles the skin of an extremely ill person. 


We hope that this article has helped you out in understanding what each of the terms means and the difference between ‘Goth’ and ‘Emo’.

So the next time you find yourself stuck between which term to use, refer back to this article to ensure that you do not use them wrongly.


Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.
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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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