What Does ‘Emoji’ Mean Anyway, Where Did It Originate?

What does Emoji mean

What Does ‘Emoji’ Mean Anyway, Where Did It Originate?

Key Points

  • Emojis are small digital images and icons that express emotions, messages, ideas, and concepts.
  • They originated in Japan, where they are very popular.
  • Emojis vary widely in style and meaning, they add emotion and personality to our digital conversations.

What does ‘Emoji’ mean anyway? Where did it originate? If you’re an emoji lover, you’re in for a treat! We’ve dug up some pretty interesting facts about the origins of emojis that will make you love them even more.

What Does ‘Emoji’ Mean?

Emojis are small digital images and icons that express many emotions, ideas, and messages in electronic communications.

They originated in Japan, where they are very popular, but their use has spread rapidly worldwide in recent years. Some emojis are specific to Japanese culture (such as sushi or samurai). However, other cultures have also taken up most of the emojis.

Emojis vary widely in style and meaning, but they all share one thing in common: they add emotion and personality to our digital conversations. Whether you’re sending a smiley face to someone to brighten their day or a heart to show your love, an emoji can say what words alone often cannot.

If you’re new to emojis or just want to learn more about them, read on for a brief history and introduction to the world of these fun little pictographs.

A Brief History of Emojis

Did you know that emojis have been around since the late 1990s? A team of developers in Japan created the first set of emojis. These early emojis were simple black-and-white faces, but they quickly evolved into the colorful and expressive icons we all know and love today.

The popularity of emojis outside Japan rose in the early 2000s after being incorporated into emails and messaging apps like WhatsApp. In 2010, they finally made their way onto smartphones when Apple included an emoji keyboard in its iPhone operating system. Today, they’re popular across the globe.

The Different Types of Emojis

What does Emoji mean
Stickers can include animations and express a wide variety of emotions.

©tmn art/Shutterstock.com

There are different emojis, such as smileys, animals, food, and objects.

Smileys 😊

These are the most commonly used type of emoji and include emotions like happiness, sadness, anger, love, etc.


These are similar to smilies but often include images or animations; they can be used to express a wide range of emotions.


These emojis represent objects and can be used to convey messages without using words.


These are often used to replace words or as shortcuts for common phrases; they can also be used to represent concepts or ideas.


These are Japanese-style emoticons that use characters to create facial expressions; they can be used to express a wide range of emotions.


These emojis represent the flags of different countries; they can be used to show national pride or to represent a specific country.

There are many other emojis, but these are some of the most common.

How To Use Emojis on Your Computer

While emojis were originally only available on mobile phones. However, they’re now also available for computers. If you want to use emojis on your computer, there are several ways to do it.

One way is to copy and paste them from websites like Emojipedia.org. Find the emoji, then copy and paste it into your document, email, or chat window.

Another way to use emojis on your computer is to install a third-party keyboard like Bitmoji or SwiftKey. Once you’ve installed the keyboard, you’ll be able to access all of your favorite emojis directly from the keyboard. Open up the keyboard and start typing away!

Some Emoji Meanings That Might Surprise You

We all know emojis express a wide range of emotions, but did you know some surprisingly hidden meanings behind some of your favorite emojis? Here are a few emoji meanings that might surprise you:

1. The “smiling face with sunglasses” 😎 emoji often signifies that someone is “cool.” But it can also indicate that someone is hiding something. If someone sends you this emoji followed by a winky face, they might be trying to tell you that they’re up to something sneaky!

2. The “winking face” πŸ˜‰ emoji is another one that can have multiple meanings. Sure, it’s often a flirty way to say “hello” or “goodbye.” But it can also indicate someone is being sarcastic or making a joke. If you see this emoji followed by an eye-roll emoji, the person might not be as into you as you thought!

3. The “crying face” 😒 emoji is self-explanatory – it expresses sadness or disappointment. But it can also show sympathy. If you see this emoji followed by a heart, the sender is trying to tell you that they feel bad for you and are there for you.

4. The “laughing face with tears” πŸ˜‚ emoji is another one with multiple meanings. It often shows happiness or excitement, but it can also indicate that someone is finding something funny, even though it might not be appropriate to laugh out loud. If you see this emoji followed by an embarrassed face, the person might be trying to tell you that they’re sorry for laughing at your expense!

5. The “face with heart eyes” 😍 emoji is pretty straightforward – it shows love or admiration. It can also show appreciation. If you see this emoji followed by a thank-you note, the person is trying to tell you how much they appreciate you or something you’ve done.

Commonly Misinterpreted Emoji Types

We’ve all been there – you send an emoji to a friend, and they interpret it completely differently from what you intended. Or, even worse, they don’t interpret it and think you’re being weird. To avoid further confusion or hurt feelings, here’s a list of the most commonly misinterpreted emojis and what they actually mean.

What does Emoji mean

Online social communication applications illustration.

©Darko 1981/Shutterstock.com

The Smiling Face With Tears of Joy Emojis πŸ˜‚

This is probably the most common emoji and is most often misinterpreted. Many people think it represents sadness when it is meant to convey happiness or joy. So, if you see this emoji in a text, know that the person is really happy – even if they are also crying!

The Smiling Face With Horns Emoji 😈

Because of the horns, most people associate this emoji with evil. However, that’s an absurd misrepresentation of the true meaning. The emoji simply represents mischief.

The Winking Face Emojis πŸ˜‰

The winking face emoji is flirty. But it depends on the relationship you have with the sender. If you have something going on, it could be flirting. But if nothing is going on, treat it as a joke.

The Thumbs Up Emojis πŸ‘

The thumbs-up emoji shows your approval of something. However, in some cultures, the emoji means something totally different. Using it in these cultures is rude.

The Smiling Face With Sunglasses Emojis 😎

This emoji represents sarcasm. However, it also translates to someone being happy. Therefore, consider the context when using it.

The Most Controversial Emoji Types

The Eggplant Emojis πŸ†

This aubergine-shaped emoji’s use to represent male genitalia is misleading. It’s now dubbed the “universal symbol of horniness.”

The Peach Emojis πŸ‘

The peach emoji is another popular one for representing buttocks or female genitalia. Like the eggplant emoji, it can be used innocently enough but is often seen as inappropriate.

The Monkey Emojis πŸ’

The monkey emoji is often used in a derogatory way to refer to people of color, particularly those of African descent. It is, therefore,  viewed as racist and offensive.

The Watermelon Emojis πŸ‰

Some people consider this emoji racist, just like the monkey emoji. There’s a notion that people of color love watermelon so some uncouth people use the emoji in a derogatory manner to propagate racism.

The Gun Emojis πŸ”«

The gun emoji is one of the most controversial emojis due to its violent connotations. In light of recent mass shootings in the US, many people have called for its removal from keyboards and apps altogether.

The Knife Emojis πŸ—‘οΈ

The knife emoji is another controversial one due to its violent connotations. In some cases, people jokingly use it to threaten others which are insensitive, especially with the rising cases of knife crimes.

The Clown Emojis 🀑

The clown emoji has become associated with creepy clown sightings that have been popping up around the world over the past few years. While it may seem innocent, many people find it downright scary.

The Poop Emojis πŸ’©

Last but not least, the poop emoji is one of the most controversial emojis due to its poopy connotations.

Wrapping It Up!

Emoji are the perfect way to communicate a feeling or emotion. They also add a bit of fun and levity to your messages.

With over 2,600 emojis available on most devices, you can find the perfect one to express what you want to say. So next time you need to quickly understand how you feel, don’t reach for the keyboard – try using an emoji instead!

Do you have a favorite?

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Frequently Asked Questions

What do the different colors of the heart emoji mean?

The red heart emoji means love, while the yellow and orange heart emojis represent friendship. The green heart emoji can symbolize either envy or jealousy, depending on how it is used.

How do you use the shrug emoji?

The shrug emoji is often used to express confusion or to indicate that someone doesn’t know the answer to a question. It can also be used to say “whatever” or “I don’t care.”

What does the crying emoji mean?

The crying emoji is most commonly used to express sadness or grief. It can also indicate that someone is feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

How do you use the laughing emoji?

The laughing emoji can express amusement, joy, or even sarcasm. It is often used as a response to something funny or clever.

What does the winking emoji mean?

The winking emoji is often used to indicate flirtation or sexual innuendo. It can also be used as a way to say “I’m just kidding” or “I’m only joking.”

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