What Does This Emoji Mean? Emoji Face Meanings Explained
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Simple emoticons have been around for a while but it’s the rise of smartphones that have really brought them into the mainstream. They’re used everywhere, from text messages to Instagram hashtags. 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, different emojis can take on unique and personal meanings that can be hard for an outsider to understand. If you’re using Snapchat, for example, you’ll deal with its own unique set of Snapchat emojis.

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 Face Emojis

Smiley Faces

smiley emoji
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 Smiley Faces

smiling emojies
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

smile cold sweat emoji
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

tears of joy emoji
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

cool with sunglasses emoji
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 emoji
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

savoring delicious food emoji
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 Face Emojis

Smirking Face

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

Winking Face

winking face emoji
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

stuck out tongue emoji
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 emoji
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 emoji
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

devil face emoji
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 emoji
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

face with heart-shaped eyes emoji
Smiling Face With Heart-Shaped Eyes shows love, adoration, or gratitude. It can be used towards a person, place, or thing.

Negative Face Emojis

Blank Faces

blank face emoji
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 emoji
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

cold sweat emoji
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

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

Crying Face

crying face emoji
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 emoji
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 emoji
Worried Face shows shock, horror, disgust and fear.

Tired Faces

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

Sleeping Face

sleeping face emoji
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 emoji
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

look of triumph emoji
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 emoji
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

presevering face emoji
Persevering Face shows stress or fatalism towards a situation.

Shocked Faces

shocked face emoji
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

scared face emoji
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 Face Emojis

The Monkeys

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

Hand Symbol Emojis

Thumbs Up Sign

thumbs up emoji
Thumbs Up Sign shows acceptance, or agreement.

Thumbs Down Sign

thumbs down emoji
Thumbs Down Sign shows rejection, dislike or disagreement.

OK Hand Sign

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

Person Raising Both Hands In Celebration

rising hands in victory emoji
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

folded hands emoji
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.

Heart Emojis

Red Heart

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

Colored Hearts

colored hearts emojis
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.
broken heart emoji

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 or are there any important meanings I’ve missed? In case you weren’t aware, note that you can now draw your own emojis in Gboard You Can Now Draw Your Own Emoji in Gboard You Can Now Draw Your Own Emoji in Gboard Gboard for Android is now capable of recognizing your hand-drawn emoji. This is just one of a number of improvements Google has made to its keyboard app for Android users. Read More and send iPhone emojis on Android How to View & Send the New iOS 9.1 Emojis on Android How to View & Send the New iOS 9.1 Emojis on Android Tired of seeing little boxes when your iPhone-using friends send you emojis? Well, no more. Now you can have all the emojis on your Android device too! Read More .

Image Credits: robert_s/Shutterstock

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  1. Nadiah
    March 2, 2019 at 10:01 am

    This is very useful! Now I know whether I use the use the correct emoji when I text my friends! ?

  2. Judy Strauss
    August 19, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    Tysm for a simple clear and vg set of explanations!

  3. Kiran
    August 16, 2018 at 6:59 am

    What is the emoji smiley for showing the Sorry Expression?

    • Nadiah
      March 2, 2019 at 10:03 am

      I think the religious one that they said can also be like putting your hands and saying sorry to the opposite person.

    • Nadiah
      March 2, 2019 at 10:04 am

      I think the one that the article said that is religious use can also be used to show that you are very sorry to the opposite person you’re sending that emoji to.

  4. ronneyah
    November 30, 2017 at 1:51 pm


  5. Basith
    July 3, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    ? meaning of this emoji

    • Akakamsmsa
      October 23, 2017 at 12:54 pm

      Idk this is stupid they for got one?