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What is the difference between Emo and Goth?

24 Jul 2021
emo vs goth

Two subcultures at the same time close and totally different, the Emo vs Goth debate is a subject that could take many hours of discussion as there would be so much to say. However, as we know that your time is precious, we have created just for you a condensed article in order to explain you the difference between Emo and Goth as simply as possible.

In short, the main difference between Emo and Goth is based on how each one expresses its music and emotions as well as their cultural inclinations, and that although they both belong to the same genre. Indeed, Emo and Goth are two different types of underground music and subcultures that both derive from the punk rock movement. Emo is short for Emotional hardcore which is a variety of rock music that focuses on self emotional expression and that emerged in the mid-90s in Washington, USA. Goth, on the other side, is associated with Gothic Rock characterized by dark music, and introspective and romantic lyrics that originates from United Kingdom in the 80s.

Still having trouble seeing the difference? Don't worry, let's go over the basics together:

What is a Goth?

goth men and women

First of all, Goth is a synonymous of gothic and a type of rock music that focuses on dark themes. As a result, a subculture has grown around the "Goth" genre called Goth movement, which explains why today we call "Goth" any performer or follower of this style of music.

👉 Related article: What is "Goth"

Goth movement originates from the Punk Rock movement from 1970's in United Kingdom. From a music genre, Goth evolved into a social group that describes itself with a profound fascination and love for the Darkness and the Macabre, where they see real beauty in them.

What is an Emo?

emo boy and girl

Emo is short for Emotional Hardcore, a type of rock music is characterized by a punk rock music supported by emotionally charged lyrics. 

As for Goth, the term Emo is also used to refer to a performer or follower of this style of music. Emo music is associated with many expressions such as being introverted, shy, emotional, sensitive, depressed, suicidal, etc. Moreover, Emos have a deep love for poetry and are adept at critiquing punk philosophy.


Differences between Emo and Goth

Here is a summary of the notable differences between Emo and Goth:

Emo vs Goth - Comparison chart

Criteria Emo Goth
Short Definition Emo is a style of music that derivates from punk rock and post-hardcore and characterized by emotionally charged lyrics. Goth is a subgenre of post-punk rock movement and characterized by dark themes & non-conformism philosophy, music, performance, etc.
Origin Punk Rock
Punk Rock
Derivates Emocore, Emo Goth Gothic Lolita, Street Goth, Romantic Goth, Goth Chic, Alt Goth
Most prevalent in

1990's: Washington, USA

Today: Worldwide

1980's: United Kingdom

Today: Worldwide

Related to Punk rock, indie rock Post-Industrial Rock
Music Style Emo, indie rock, post-hardcore, hardcore punk, punk rock, alternative, pop punk Punk rock, post punk, glam rock, metal, rock, etc
Philosophy Emo have a deep anger for the human race but have a profound love for the nature Goth hate everything without any distinction 
Fashion Style

Skinny fit outfits such as:

  • Skinny Jeans (Black)
  • Band Shirts
  • Vans or converse
Punk rock, post punk, glam rock etc

Musical genre

Goth: Goth is a kind of rock music characterized by dark tones and gloomy lyrics about universal subjects such as music, art, media, literature, fashion, poetry, etc.

Emo: Emo is a type of traditional hard rock music more focus on personal and emotional lyrics. 

Themes intrinsic to the subculture

Goth: Goth a des thèmes plus sombres. Ils s'intéressent davantage à la sorcellerie, aux vampires, à la magie noire..

Emo: Emo a des thèmes émotionnels. Leurs thèmes traitent davantage d'émotions différentes.

Favorite Colors

Both Goth and Emo are fanatic of the color black. However, black is not the main color of Emo Fashion where it is in Gothic Fashion. Indeed, Emo outfits are based on a more larger palet of colors as the purpose is to reflect personal emotions towards the outfits. 


Goth: Most Goths prefer to show a more macabre look appearance using makeup to whiten their skin and darken their facial features around the eyes, lips and nails. Also, most of them also dye their hair in Black or White.

Emo: Emos are also mostly seen wearing black clothes. However, they also love to dress with other colors and girls love to dye their hair pink or blue.


Goth: Gothic Fashion is based on a clothing line inspired by vampire style clothing with black outfits of leather or velvet, chains, and spikes.

Emos: Emo Fashion is less dark as they prefer wearing skinny jeans, hoodies, scarves and coated clothing. They also use leather chokers, ruffles, lace, corsets and soft jewelry.


Goth: Goths are associated with liking to be isolated, being introverted and liking the color black.

Emo: Emo rock is associated with a number of things, like being introverted, shy, emotional, sensitive, depressed, suicidal, etc.


Thus, the words Goth and Emo refer to different musical traditions. However, the words Goth and Emo are also used to refer to performers or followers of these music styles respectively. Between the two, Goths are considered punk trend setters and Emos brand gothic clothing.

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