Emoji Names: Decoding the Hidden Meanings and Usage of iPhone Emojis

In a world where communication is becoming increasingly digital, emojis have emerged as a powerful tool for expressing emotions, thoughts, and actions. These tiny icons have taken over messaging apps, social media platforms, and even formal communication, transcending linguistic and cultural barriers. However, beyond their colorful appearance, every emoji on your iPhone has a unique name that reveals its intended meaning and usage. In this article, we will delve into the world of emoji names, uncovering the hidden stories behind these tiny icons and decoding their meanings.

The Rise of Emoji Names

Emoji Names Decoding the Hidden Meanings and Usage of iPhone Emojis

As smartphones became ubiquitous and messaging apps gained popularity, emojis quickly rose to prominence as the universal language of expression. In 2010, Apple introduced its first set of emojis, making them available for use in messages and emails on iPhones. Since then, emojis have become an integral part of digital communication, with users sending over 5 billion emojis daily on Facebook Messenger alone [1]. As their usage continues to grow, it becomes essential to understand the meanings and connotations behind each emoji, starting with their names.

Unveiling the Stories Behind Emoji Names

Emoji Names Decoding the Hidden Meanings and Usage of iPhone Emojis

The naming conventions for emojis often reveal their origin, cultural significance, or intended purpose. These names provide a glimpse into the journey of these tiny icons from their conceptualization to widespread adoption. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular emojis on iPhones and the stories behind their names.

1. Heart Emojis

The heart emoji, a universal symbol of love and affection, carries a simple yet powerful name – Red Heart. This name accurately describes its visual form and emotional connotation, making it one of the most widely used emojis for expressing love and friendship. However, its counterpart, the Two Hearts emoji, possesses a more nuanced meaning.

Two Hearts Emoji

The Two Hearts emoji comprises two red hearts, side by side, symbolizing an intense connection or strong bond between two individuals. This emoji’s name, Two Hearts, may seem straightforward; however, its origins can be traced back to the Japanese phrase “doki doki,” which refers to the sound of a heartbeat [2]. This phrase is often used to express excitement, nervousness, or romantic feelings, making it an apt name for this emoji.

Multiple Hearts Emoji

The Multiple Hearts emoji, also known as the Sparkling Heart emoji, features several small pink and red hearts, giving off a sparkling effect. While its name may seem generic, this emoji holds a deeper meaning. In Japanese culture, the color pink represents joy, love, and friendship, while red symbolizes passion and romance [3]. Therefore, the combination of these two colors in this emoji signifies a strong and affectionate bond between friends or partners.

2. Hand Gestures Emojis

Hand gestures are some of the most commonly used emojis on iPhones, allowing users to convey actions and emotions without typing a single word. However, the names of these emojis go beyond just describing their visual form.

Thumbs Up Emoji

The Thumbs Up emoji, featuring a hand with a raised thumb, symbolizes approval, agreement, or encouragement. Interestingly, this emoji’s name, Thumbs Up, has its origins in ancient Roman culture, where a thumbs up gesture meant sparing a gladiator’s life in the arena [4]. Over time, this gesture came to be associated with positivity and support, giving rise to its usage as an emoji.

OK Hand Emoji

The OK Hand emoji, depicting a hand with index finger and thumb forming a circle, is used to indicate “okay” or “good.” Its simple yet effective name mirrors its visual representation, making it one of the most recognizable emojis. However, this emoji’s origins can be traced back to American Sign Language, where it means “I” or “me” [5]. It was later adopted into popular culture and became a widely used emoji.

3. Animal Emojis

Animal emojis are another popular category on iPhones, with each emoji possessing a unique name that reflects its characteristics or behavior.

Cat Face Emoji

The Cat Face emoji features a cute yellow cat with a smiley face, making it one of the most adored animal emojis. Interestingly, its name, Cat Face, is derived from the Japanese word “nyan,” which is the equivalent of a cat’s meow [6]. This name adds a playful element to this emoji and perfectly captures its adorable nature.

Elephant Emoji

The Elephant emoji, featuring a gray elephant facing left, holds different meanings in different cultures. In Western culture, elephants are often associated with intelligence and memory, while in Asian cultures, they symbolize good luck and strength [7]. The name Elephant accurately describes this emoji’s visual form and highlights its significance across various cultures.


Emoji Names Decoding the Hidden Meanings and Usage of iPhone Emojis

Emojis have evolved from being mere icons into an essential part of digital communication, enabling users to convey emotions, ideas, and actions instantly. Their names play a crucial role in understanding their intended meaning and usage, providing an entry point to decoding these tiny icons. As we continue to communicate in a predominantly digital world, learning about emoji names and their hidden meanings will help us use them more effectively and enhance our communication with others.


[1] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jul/17/emoji-world-emojis-smileys-messaging-apps-facebook-instagram

[2] https://blog.emojipedia.org/doki-doki-hearts-the-meaning-of-every-heart-emoji/

[3] https://www.fluentu.com/blog/japanese/japanese-colors/

[4] https://www.history.com/news/why-do-we-say-ok

[5] https://www.handspeak.com/word/search/index.php?id=20

[6] https://www.cjvlang.com/Dow/SoundSymbolism.html

[7] https://www.buddhists.org/buddhist-symbols/the-elephant-in-buddhism/