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Simple emoticons have been around for a while The Emoticon Is Thirty! But Where Did It Come From? [Geek History] The Emoticon Is Thirty! But Where Did It Come From? [Geek History] In 2012, the emoticon as we know it turned thirty years old. A lot of us take it for granted that we can convey emotion through text using constructs like :) and :( and O_O,... Read More but it’s the rise of smartphones that have really brought them into the mainstream Emoji Added to the Dictionary, Lenovo Cast Pucks Google, & More... [Tech News Digest] Emoji Added to the Dictionary, Lenovo Cast Pucks Google, & More... [Tech News Digest] WTF Emoji Clickbait, Lenovo Casts its line, Google Play age ratings, Facebook meets Harry Potter, a Humble Nindie Bundle for Nintendo fans, and the music video which finds your finger. Read More . They’re used everywhere; from text messages to Instagram hashtags Instagram: #Hashtag Emojis and Better Search Capabilities Instagram: #Hashtag Emojis and Better Search Capabilities Instagram recently announced that emojis — those smiling, sad or crazy face pictures — are now searchable, allowing even more people and pictures to be discovered. Read More . However, what each character means is often subject to debate.

Unicode publish standards on what each emoji should represent, but they are not always used as intended. Within different groups Can Emoji Transcend Language Boundaries? Can Emoji Transcend Language Boundaries? Will the connected age help us move beyond language as we know it? Some people think that emoji could revolutionize how we communicate. Let's take a look. Read More , different emoji can take on unique and personal meanings that can be hard for an outsider to understand.

In this dictionary, in an effort to bring some clarity to the situation, I look at some of the commonly accepted meanings of popular emoji.

Happy Faces

Smiley Faces

Smiling Face With Smiling Eyes and Smiling Face are the two most commonly used emoticons. They simply denote happiness or positivity.

Infrequently, they may be used following an insult or criticism to remove some of the sting.

Other Smiles

Smiling Face With Open Mouth, Smiling Face With Open Mouth And Smiling Eyes, Grinning Face, and Smiling Face With Open Mouth And Tightly-Closed Eyes are similar to the two simpler smiley faces and may be used in the same way. However, they are often used to express greater levels of happiness. A message with one of these emoji will normally be extremely positive.


They are almost never used with an insult or criticism.

Smiling Face With Open Mouth And Cold Sweat

Smiling Face With Open Mouth And Cold Sweat shows happiness like the other smiling faces, but there is also an element of relief. Messages using this emoji often express joy at how a potentially negative event worked out.

For example: if you sent a message explaining that you just passed a difficult test or got the all clear from the doctor then you could use this emoji.

Face With Tears Of Joy

Face With Tears Of Joy is used to show laughter. It’s closely related to LOL. If someone sends a funny joke, you can respond with this emoji.

Smiling Face With Sunglasses

Smiling Face With Sunglasses is used to show coolness. It’s similar to the sunglasses used in Deal With It GIFs.

Flushed Face

Flushed Face shows embarrassment for an awkward situation or mistake. It is frequently used self-deprecatingly as a response to compliments.

Face Savoring Delicious Food

Face Savoring Delicious Food is used to express emotion about food. It can be used in anticipation for, during, or after a tasty meal.

Flirty Faces

Smirking Face

Smirking Face has strong sexual connotations. It normally accompanies sexual innuendos or suggestions.

Winking Face

Winking Face shows that the message was sent with humorous intent. Any message that accompanies a Winking Face should not be taken too seriously.

Similar to Smirking Face, Winking Face often accompanies suggestive messages.

Stuck-Out Tongue Faces

Face With Stuck-Out Tongue, Face With Stuck-Out Tongue And Winking Eye, and Face With Stuck-Out Tongue And Tightly-Closed Eyes are used interchangeably with Winking Face to show humor.

Relieved Face

Relieved Face is, as the name suggests, meant to indicate relief. However, it is mostly used to show contentment or calmness.

It can also, in response to a suggestive emoji, be used to show a certain amount of aloofness or innocence.

Smiling Face With Halo

Smiling Face With Halo shows innocence or goodness. It can be used seriously or humorously. For example, this emoji would be appropriate when messaging your friends on a Friday to explain that you are staying for the night.

Devil Faces

Smiling Face With Horns and Imp can be used interchangeably, although because one is smiling and the other is frowning they can also be used to show subtly different things. Both show naughtiness or mischievousness.

Smiling Face With Horns more frequently accompanies minor mischiefs or suggestive messages while Imp implies more malice.

Kissing Faces

Kissing Face, Face Throwing A Kiss, Kissing Face With Smiling Eyes, and Kissing Face With Closed Eyes are all used to show romance or affection. Face Throwing A Kiss is possibly more romantic due to the small red heart. The other three can also be used to show innocent whistling.

Smiling Face With Heart-Shaped Eyes

Smiling Face With Heart-Shaped Eyes shows love, adoration, or gratitude. It can be used towards a person, place, or thing.

Negative Faces

Blank Faces

Neutral Face and Expressionless Face show a deliberate lack of emotion. They may be used to show that someone is unimpressed, indifferent, or awkward.

Unamused Face

Unamused Face is used to show dissatisfaction or suspicion. This emoji does not show true anger or sadness, but rather a subtly negative emotion. For example, if you are unhappy or dubious of someone’s excuse for why they are late, you could send this emoji.

Face With Cold Sweat

Face With Cold Sweat shows stress or hard work. It typically refers to a specific situation. For example, messaging your partner to explain that you have to stay late at the office would warrant this emoji.

Sad Faces

Pensive Face and Disappointed Face are the two main sad face emoji. Both convey a sense of sadness, remorse, regret, disappointment, or any similarly negative emotion.

Disappointed But Relieved Face

Disappointed But Relieved Face is generally used to show fear or hurt rather than disappointment.

Crying Face

Crying Face is similar to Pensive Face and Disappointed Face. It shows a stronger sense of hurt rather than general sadness.

Loudly Crying Face

Loudly Crying Face is a stronger version of Crying Face. It shows hurt, pain and upset. Unlike the other sad faces, it is often used ironically.

Worried Face

Worried Face shows shock, horror, disgust and fear.

Tired Faces

Weary Face and Tired Face both show tiredness however they are often used to represent world-weariness, stress and a sense of being fed up as well.

Sleepy Face

Sleepy Face is seldom used to represent tiredness, instead it shows that the sender is sick or unwell.

Sleeping Face

Sleeping Face is used instead of Sleepy Face to show tiredness, sleepiness or similar. It is difficult for a person to send a message when they’re actually sleeping.

Confused Faces

Confused Face and Confounded Face are used interchangeably to show confusion. Confused Face is also used to show awkwardness or an apology. For example, if someone has to cancel plans, they might include this emoji at the end of the message.

Face With Look Of Triumph

Face With Look Of Triumph is one of the most misused emoji. It is used to show anger or frustration rather than triumph.

Face With Look Of Triumph is often used ironically.

Angry Faces

Angry Face and Pouting Face both show anger, with the red Pouting Face the stronger of the two. Unlike Face With Look Of Triumph they are seldom used humorously.

Persevering Face

Persevering Face shows stress or fatalism towards a situation.

Shocked Faces

Frowning Face With Open Mouth and Anguished Face both show shock, horror, and disappointment. They are often used as a lesser version of Pensive Face or Disappointed Face.

Scared Faces

Fearful Face, Face With Open Mouth And Cold Sweat, and Face Screaming In Fear all show varying levels of fear, ranging from slightly scared with Face With Open Mouth And Cold Sweat to outright terror with Face Screaming In Fear. They can all be used ironically.

Other Faces

The Monkeys

See-No-Evil Monkey, Hear-No-Evil Monkey, and Speak-No-Evil Monkey are used to show shock and embarrassment. Which specific monkey is used depends on the contents of the message.

Pile Of Poo

Pile Of Poo is almost always used humorously. It expresses exactly how the sender feels about something.

Hand Symbols

Thumbs Up Sign

Thumbs Up Sign shows acceptance, or agreement.

Thumbs Down Sign

Thumbs Down Sign shows rejection, dislike or disagreement.

OK Hand Sign

OK Hand Sign shows acceptance, satisfaction, or that everything is OK. It can also be used to show that something is tiny or small.

Victory Hand

Victory Hand is more often used to represent the similar peace symbol. It shows coolness, relaxation, or satisfaction.

Person Raising Both Hands In Celebration

Person Raising Both Hands In Celebration, more commonly referred to as Praise Hands, is used to show support, appreciation, or celebration.

Person With Folded Hands

Person With Folded Hands, while not meant to explicitly religious, is normally used to show prayer or pleading. A request for a favor may be accompanied by this emoji.


Red Heart

Red Heart is the classic love heart emoticon. Used to show love, romance, or any similar emotion.

Colored Hearts

Purple Heart, Yellow Heart, Green Heart, and Blue Heart are all similar to Red Heart however the target of their affection is normally related to the color of the heart. For example, Blue Heart is often used with sports teams who wear blue jerseys. Similarly, the Yellow Heart is associated with the sun and summer.

Broken Heart

Broken Heart is the ultimate expression of sadness. It can also be used ironically.

What do you think? Emoji are still evolving as a tool for communication and their meanings are still fluid. Have I skipped your favorite emoji What Is Your Favorite Emoji Character? [We Ask You] What Is Your Favorite Emoji Character? [We Ask You] Emoji are everywhere these days. But which emoji character is your personal favorite of the 1,000+ that are now available to use? Read More or are there any important meanings I’ve missed?

Image Credits: Open book via Shutterstock

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  1. Emanuel sims
    February 14, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    What does the arrow through the heart mean

  2. Cherub
    February 9, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    Thanks for stating the obvious.

  3. Liza
    February 7, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    What about the rolly eyed one?!

  4. Van Immanuel Tambanillo
    January 24, 2017 at 4:40 am

    Your article is really a great help because we are planning to have a research study about Emojis. Can you explain further the meanings of other Emojis like the cactus and other frequently used emojis. thank you

  5. Van Immanuel Tambanillo
    January 24, 2017 at 4:37 am

    Hi, your article is really a great help because we are planning to write a research study about Emojis. Can you further explain some emojis like the cactus and other frequently used emojis. thank you.

  6. Bailey
    November 26, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    I love the poo one best

  7. Sheila
    October 18, 2016 at 7:57 am

    I love all the emoticons. They are a great and fun way of communicating one's ideas and thoughts. ????

  8. cristy
    October 5, 2016 at 1:16 am

    What is the meaning of three red hearts that is connected to each other in a comment in facebook. And three red hearts that are apart to each other?

  9. Rajesh Narayanan
    July 20, 2016 at 5:32 am

    'emoji' emoticons can have different meanings in different cultures.
    My main grouse is they are TOO SMALL TO EVEN SEE...Let alone the context in which they have been used or understand what they mean.

    Some expressions are universal by nature like many facial gestures. emoticons need to be developed - Regional Culture-wise.For example the hands folded expression can be - Thank U - No Thanks - Don't want to see you again - etc..Similarly the two hands Palm outward - No-Thanks - Enough is the general observation, but for Indians it could also be used to give Blessings...Blessings can only be given to those younger than oneself not vice-versa....

    While developing DEEPER gestures ( not the Universally accepted ones) & related visuals the developer MUST BE CAREFUL & HAVE KNOWLEDGE OF THE COUNTRY - REGION's ( in case of Multicultural Societies ) as some gestures may have OBJECTIONABLE connotations attached to them..

  10. ?
    May 15, 2016 at 1:07 pm


    • BlackGoddess
      June 25, 2016 at 1:10 am


  11. Your Mom
    May 5, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    Who wants to ? Like a seal?

  12. Anya
    April 25, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    I still don't get what the U and the wavy line on it means :/

  13. June
    April 14, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    Lol I like these emoji explanations. It looks like you used images of the way the emojis are typically rendered. Here's a website where you can get the heart emoji to copy and paste as text:

  14. joe
    March 9, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    What does 2 tulip and 1 celebration emoji mean?

  15. w?a?t?t?o?
    March 6, 2016 at 8:51 am

    w?h?a?t? w?o?u?l?d? ???????? m?e?a?n?

  16. Ashley Sings
    February 17, 2016 at 3:39 am

    My name is its actually my real name is tho my real name is Chris....Chris's really ash ???????? have nothing against me.

  17. hahahahahahaahahahahaha
    January 29, 2016 at 2:35 am


  18. G gjbvbhn
    January 24, 2016 at 7:50 am


  19. G gjbvbhn
    January 24, 2016 at 7:49 am


  20. Danielle N.
    December 31, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    All of the emojis people use in the comments just look like ???? XD

  21. nita
    December 19, 2015 at 9:16 pm


  22. bob marley
    November 30, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    what does this mean¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿??????????????????????????

  23. Ellie
    November 19, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    What does this mean ?????

  24. Yasmin Guadarrama
    November 10, 2015 at 3:20 am

    What does this mean ??????????????????

    • Yasmin Guadarrama
      November 10, 2015 at 3:20 am


  25. Mackenzie Barry
    November 8, 2015 at 1:40 am

    Thx for the explanation!!! It will rly help now!!!????????????????????

  26. Zoe R.
    October 17, 2015 at 6:06 am

    This list was exactly what I was looking for! Very informative. Thank you! :)

  27. Seema Sharma
    October 12, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    Wonderful! I'm happy that I use most of them correctly????. Just wanna know what is this emoticon for - ??????

    • Mihir Patkar
      October 12, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      Hi Seema, sorry, our comments don't support emoji. Could you upload a screenshot to and share that please?

  28. drb
    July 7, 2015 at 6:23 am

    It doesn't appear as if GMail still offer their emoticons in motion? Anyway to get them back?

    • Leah Prentice
      November 18, 2015 at 11:52 pm

      Yes, I was wondering the same thing. Honestly, I liked the motion ones more then the strange yellow blobs they have now, so I kinda wish they would bring those back.

  29. Timothy Vels
    July 7, 2015 at 2:43 am

    Wow thanks for this article. Really now I have a good insight of the whole thing.
    Now onwards can use everything correctly