It stands to reason that you have heard the word emoji being thrown around, whether you are a tech savvy millennial or a newbie to the word of text chats. What you might not be familiar with is the meaning of this term. What is an emoji? What do emojis mean? The name alone is confusing. Is it some sort of avatar? Is it a cutesy name for some sort of teen slang? The short answer is that emojis are small graphics typically shared via mobile device, but the full answer can take longer to explain. We’ll explore the context of the world of emojis, including what they are, how they are used, and the shades of meaning each small emoji can bring.
What Do Emojis Mean
An emoji can be defined as a small digital image that is used to convey an expression or a feeling. These are sent through electronic communication, like text, email or Facebook post. While emojis could be anything, most people draw from a standard set of emojis available on any typical mobile device, like a smart phone or tablet. Some people even have emojis on the computer and can copy & paste emoji pictures.
How Emojis Are Used
The beauty of the emoji is that is can be used as a standalone, by itself to convey an entire message, or it can be used in conjunction with written words. For example, you might include an emoji of a present at the end of a text wishing someone a happy birthday. Likewise, you could just send a string of present emojis to someone to convey the birthday message without typing in any words. An emoji savvy person would understand the meaning immediately.
Emojis are added to messages a few simple ways. The most common is typically choosing from a window of emojis already available on the device you are using. On a smart phone, in the texting box there is usually a button to press that takes you to an emoji window where you can choose by type. On Facebook, a drop down bar can be pulled up in a post text box to also choose from available emojis. Or, you can manually insert an emoji, if you know the commands to type to create the picture. For example, typing the less than sign with a three 3 will pull up a heart emoji on social media.
Evolution Of The Emoji
The history of the emoji can be charted back to the start of electronic communication, or e-mail. As the use of e-mail became more popular, users began creating special codes and slang to incorporate into messages. A popular form of this was to use characters on the keyboard to create faces that could convey an expression, like a colon (:) and an end parenthesis ()) to make a happy face :). As the popularity of these smiley faces grew, users came up with creative ways to make more and more expressions, with everything from an angry face to a shrugging man. Software companies caught onto the trend, and began making codes so that if a user typed a string of characters to create an image, an actual graphic would appear in its place, making emojis on the computer. You could even copy & paste emoji pictures for easier use.
The next major leap in emojis occurred with the creation of texting. Like e-mail, users wanted a way to include facial expressions and images into their messages, and a slew of the already popular emojis like the happy face or frown face were included in many forms of early texting platforms. As the smart phone became the norm, more and more emojis were able to be produced, and these branched out from the traditional facial emoji to include things like animals, plants and foods. Today, emojis included on most smart phones include a slew of things, like flags, modes of transportation, and holiday symbols.
Shades Of Meaning
It’s important to note that not all emojis mean what one would think they mean upon first viewing them. In fact, some of the most commonly used emojis could come off as vulgar or downright aggressive to someone who has never seen them before. For example, two popular emojis in common use are a gun and a bomb. But senders of these emojis rarely mean to convey feelings of physical violence. Instead, they are used to let someone know the sender is feeling overwhelmed or stressed, or is suffering some personal problem at the moment.
Another very popular emoji is the “poop” emoji, which is an emoji that looks like a small stool with a happy face. It would look completely bizarre if taken out of context. But this emoji is usually used to mean someone is unhappy with something that is going on, like they had a bad day at work or are running late for a movie. Perfectly benign when you understand the meaning. If you’re unsure how these emojis are used, or if you are dealing with a more reserved friend or an older family member, it might be best to perhaps just stick with the unassuming flower or heart emojis.
Emojis In The Vernacular
Emojis have become so popular that they are now jumping off our devices and finding their way into the real world. Today, you can purchase everything from emoji note pads to emoji coffee mugs. In fact, some emojis have even worked their way into our dialogue. For example, one common emoji is a smiley face with hearts where the eyes should be, and it is used to let someone know you are overjoyed with something. Now, some people will just say or type the words “heart eyes” to mean the same thing.
If all of this seems overwhelming, don’t fret. Emojis become easier and easier to understand the more you use them, and you will quickly pick up on all of the nuances and meanings with just a few conversations via text. In no time, you will be sending and receiving emojis as if you have been doing it for your entire life.