Emoji What They Mean and How to Use Them

In today’s digital world, emojis have become an essential part of our communication. These small, colorful icons can convey a wide range of emotions, ideas, and actions, helping us to express ourselves more vividly and creatively. With so many emojis to choose from, it can be difficult to keep track of what they all mean. This guide will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the most commonly used emojis, their meanings, and how to use them effectively in your digital conversations.

The History of Emoji

Emoji What They Mean and How to Use Them

The history of emoji can be traced back to the late 1990s when Japanese engineer Shigetaka Kurita developed a set of 176 emoji for use on NTT DoCoMo’s i-mode mobile internet platform. Kurita’s emojis were inspired by Japanese manga and anime characters, and they quickly became popular among Japanese mobile phone users. However, it wasn’t until 2011 that emojis gained worldwide recognition.

That year, Unicode Consortium, the organization responsible for maintaining the Unicode standard, approved a set of 722 emoji characters for inclusion in Unicode 6.0. This made it possible for emojis to be used on a wider range of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers. Since then, the popularity of emojis has exploded, and they have become an integral part of our online communication.

Understanding Emojis

Emoji What They Mean and How to Use Them

Before diving into the meanings of specific emojis, it’s important to understand how emojis are classified. There are currently 3 main categories of emojis: smileys and people, animals and nature, and objects and symbols. Each category has subcategories, and new emojis are constantly being added.

Smileys and People

This category includes emojis that represent human facial expressions, such as happy, sad, angry, and surprised. It also includes emojis that depict different professions, genders, and relationships.

Animals and Nature

As the name suggests, this category includes emojis that represent animals, plants, and natural phenomena like weather and landscapes.

Objects and Symbols

This is the most diverse category, including emojis that represent objects, activities, places, and symbols. From food and drinks to transportation and technology, this category covers a wide range of concepts.

Most Commonly Used Emojis and Their Meanings

Emoji What They Mean and How to Use Them

Now that we have a basic understanding of how emojis are categorized let’s take a closer look at some of the most commonly used emojis and their meanings.

😂 Face with Tears of Joy

This emoji is often referred to as the laughing-crying emoji or the LOL emoji. It depicts a face with tears streaming down its cheeks from excessive laughter. This emoji is mostly used to indicate something is funny or when someone is laughing so hard they’re crying.

Emoji Name Meaning
😂 Face with Tears of Joy Laughter, amusement, or hilarity

❤️ Red Heart

The red heart emoji has been around since 2010 and is one of the most widely used emojis. It represents love, affection, and friendship. This emoji can be used to express feelings towards someone or something, such as a significant other, family member, or a favorite food or activity.

Emoji Name Meaning
❤️ Red Heart Love, affection, or friendship

🙌 Raising Hands

Also known as the Praise Hands emoji, this one depicts two raised hands in celebration or praise. It can also represent gratitude, thanks, or excitement. This emoji is often used to express success or achievement.

Emoji Name Meaning
🙌 Raising Hands Celebration, praise, or gratitude

🤔 Thinking Face

The thinking face emoji is often used to convey a sense of contemplation or confusion. It can also be used to indicate skepticism or doubt. This emoji is frequently used when someone is trying to make a decision or considering something deeply.

Emoji Name Meaning
🤔 Thinking Face Contemplation, confusion, or skepticism

💩 Pile of Poo

One of the most infamous emojis, the pile of poo, has been subject to many interpretations over the years. But its primary meaning is simply poop or excrement. It can also be used to express disgust, disappointment, or even humor.

Emoji Name Meaning
💩 Pile of Poo Poop, excrement, or disgust

Emojis in Various Cultures

Emoji What They Mean and How to Use Them

While emojis are used globally, their meanings and usage can vary depending on cultural context. What may be perceived as a friendly or positive gesture in one culture may be seen as offensive or inappropriate in another. For example, the thumbs up emoji is commonly used in Western cultures to express agreement or approval, while in some Middle Eastern countries, it may be seen as a rude gesture.

Furthermore, emojis have been adapted to reflect cultural diversity and inclusivity. In 2015, Apple introduced a range of skin tones for human emojis, allowing users to select an emoji that reflects their race or ethnicity. This was followed by the introduction of same-sex couple emojis and gender-neutral emojis in subsequent years.

It’s important to be mindful of cultural differences when using emojis to avoid any misunderstandings or offenses.

Using Emojis Effectively

Emoji What They Mean and How to Use Them

Emojis can add depth and emotion to our digital conversations, making them more engaging and meaningful. However, like any form of communication, they should be used appropriately to avoid misinterpretations or confusion. Here are some tips for using emojis effectively:

  • Use emojis sparingly: Too many emojis can make your message seem unprofessional or hard to read. Stick to one or two per message.
  • Consider the context: Emojis may not be appropriate in all situations, such as formal emails or professional communication. Use them in casual conversations or when you want to add a touch of personality.
  • Know your audience: Just like understanding cultural differences, it’s important to know who you’re communicating with and adjust your use of emojis accordingly. For example, using a lot of emojis with an older colleague may come across as unprofessional.
  • Don’t overuse popular emojis: It’s natural to gravitate towards popular emojis such as the heart eyes or thumbs up, but using them too frequently can make your messages lose their impact.

Emoji Trends and Fun Facts

As mentioned earlier, emojis have exploded in popularity since their inclusion in Unicode. They have not only become an integral part of our digital conversations but have also influenced popular culture in various ways. Here are some interesting facts and trends about emojis:

  • According to a 2016 study by Emogi, the most used emoji on Twitter is crying with tears of joy, followed by the red heart and blushing smiley face.
  • The New York Museum of Modern Art has acquired the original set of emojis from 1999 as part of its permanent collection.
  • In 2018, Apple released a new set of emojis that included a kangaroo, bagel, and even a superhero.
  • There are over 3,000 recognized emojis, with new ones being added every year.
  • World Emoji Day is celebrated on July 17th each year, a nod to the date shown on the calendar emoji.


Emojis have come a long way since their inception in the late 1990s and have become an integral part of our digital communication. With their ability to convey a wide range of emotions and ideas, they have added a new level of depth to our conversations. By understanding their meanings and using them effectively, we can make our digital interactions more engaging and enjoyable. So next time you’re struggling to find the right words, just let an emoji do the talking. 😉