37 Awesome Emoji Meanings Guaranteed to Change the Way You Text
It's a whole different language with a different set of definitions.
Throughout history, humans have always found ways to communicate via encrypted messages, and the modern-day version of these ancient runes is the emoji. Among younger generations, emojis are so popular that they have virtually replaced words in texts and social media posts, often to the consternation of parents desperately trying to figure out what encoded message they're trying to send. And while some emoji meanings are simple, others have a secret double meaning that needs to be deciphered, and some are quite complicated.
For example, a recent survey out of the University of Birmingham found that a balloon followed by a comma and a teddy bear meant "I'm thinking of you but don't have the words to say it." (You have to wonder how on earth that became a thing.) And that's just one of many fascinating secondary emoji meanings. So read on to learn the secret meaning behind some of the most popular emojis on your phone's keyboard.
Popular Emoji Meanings Explained
You may think you know your way around a smartphone, but what you learn below just may surprise you.
1. Goat Emoji
You may not have guessed it, but the goat stands for the acronym "GOAT," meaning "greatest of all time." If you see this emoji in your social media feed, it means you're being celebrated as the best in your field.
2. Snake Emoji
Beware if you see the snake, as it signals that someone thinks you're a duplicitous backstabber. It became ubiquitous on Taylor Swift's Instagram page in 2017 after the singer complained about a lyric referencing her in Kanye West's song "Famous," purporting not to have known about it. That prompted West's then-wife Kim Kardashian to then release an audio recording of the rapper getting her approval on the lyric before releasing his hit.
3. Smirking Face Emoji
If someone sends you that just slightly smiling face, then you can assume whatever was sent before was intended to be sly, smug, or mysterious. On Snapchat, its meaning packs even more of a punch. The same emoji used to show up when you were listed under a user's "best friends," but they weren't one of yours. Now, that had to hurt.
4. Poop Emoji
There's an obvious meaning behind this emoji and another that's more obscure. On one hand, you can use it to describe a situation that seems, well, less than stellar. On the other, it could also be used in place of another swear word, or even to criticize something someone else in the chat has said.
5. Cat Emoji
Again, there are two ways to interpret this one. In one instance, you could be referring to everyone's favorite domestic pet. In another, you could be using this emoji to represent a certain type of genitalia.
6. Skull Emoji
Hardly ever is this one actually intended to represent death. Instead, people may use it to describe instances when they are "dying" either of laughter or frustration.
7. Open Mouth Emoji
This one is all about context. The open mouth can denote surprise, shock, amazement, or complete disappointment.
8. Blue Heart Emoji
Don't let the familiar shape fool you—the blue heart has been hailed as the "horniest" of all emojis, denoting a desire for casual and uncommitted sex.
9. Smiling Face With Smiling Eyes Emoji
If you want to communicate total and complete happiness, then go for this emoji in place of the standard smiley. The grinning face represents a smile so wide, it's even reached the eyes.
10. Bumblebee Emoji
Given that Beyoncé's Internet name is Queen Bey, and her fans are known as the Beyhive, her followers will often swarm a post with bumblebees in attack if anyone dares throw shade at their almighty ruler.
11. Lemon Emoji
This is also a reference to Beyoncé, specifically her groundbreaking 2016 album, Lemonade. Twitter saw a massive spike in the use of the emoji in the weeks following the album's release, and while it's not as omnipresent today, it will forever stand for her masterful musical journey through the various stages of infidelity. And, like the bumblebee, it's often used on the Instagram accounts of women her fans believe to be "Becky with the Good Hair," Bey's pseudonym for the woman (or women) Jay-Z cheated on her with.
12. Octopus Emoji
It stands for "cuddles" and is basically a virtual hug, even though the sea creature is not terribly cuddly (despite its many tentacles).
13. Devil Emoji
It may not be the sexiest image, but this emoji represents a certain readiness to get frisky.
14. Pizza Slice Emoji
It could mean the person posting it is in the mood for pizza, but in the right context, a pizza slice or wedge of cheese is another way of saying, "I love you." Because communicating that isn't complicated enough.
15. Fire Emoji
This emoji signals that something is hot, or as the kids these days would say, "Lit."
16. Dancer Emoji
The image of a fabulous woman performing in a long red dress does not signify that the sender wants to hit up some salsa. It does, however, mean that they want to party—hard.
17. Knife Emoji
In keeping with the fact that it is, after all, a weapon, the knife emoji means someone is in a very bad mood and wants to cause much destruction.
18. Nail Polish Emoji
People often post this on someone's Instagram page to indicate that they are "on fleek" or, in other words, fabulous. It can also be sent in a text message to show that you are feeling as chill as a diva drying her nails. But its most popular use is as a response to indicate that you're not bothered about something someone said about you.
19. Women With Bunny Ears Emoji
Some women send this to their friends to indicate that they're about to have a rocking girls' night out, but given that it's modeled on a Playboy Bunny, it can also be a code for sex workers.
20. Information Desk Lady Emoji
You'd think this would stand for "Can I help you?" but it's actually used to express an exasperated "I don't even know what to think anymore."
21. Eggplant Emoji
This is a euphemism for a kind of genitalia and is often sent to illustrate the anticipation of sexy time.
22. Peach Emoji
Another symbol for the human anatomy, the peach represents a derriere.
23. Money With Wings Emoji
You'll often see this on Venmo next to, say, a lightbulb, to indicate someone has sent their roommate money for the energy bill, which was so expensive that they feel like they are literally watching their hard-earned cash fly away.
24. Avocado Emoji
Given the Millennial obsession with avocados, you'd think this would symbolize something good. But given the eye-roll-worthy enthrallment with this fruit, it's often used to indicate someone is hopelessly "basic" and just does whatever is trendy at the moment.
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25. Gorilla Emoji
This will always stand for Harambe, the majestic gorilla that made headlines in 2016 when he was shot dead after a little boy crawled into his enclosure. No, we're still not over it.
26. Croissant Emoji
Across the pond, croissants are being used to indicate opposition to Brexit, given that they're the most European food item in the emoji arsenal.
27. Snowflake Emoji
You might see this emoji pop up during a Twitter argument when someone wants to call someone else a "snowflake"—a derogatory term to describe a young person who is easily offended and overly fragile compared to previous generations.
28. Clapping Hands Emoji
One of the simpler emojis, it's often used to applaud something someone says. But you'll also often find it inserted in between every single word in a sentence, as a passive-aggressive way of emphasizing something that people can't seem to get into their thick heads.
29. Syringe Emoji
Don't panic. As foreboding of an emoji as it may be, the syringe can stand for a tattoo needle and is often used on Instagram to celebrate getting new ink.
30. Open Hands Emoji
This emoji is supposed to represent openness or a hug, but it's now often used as a reference to Red Bull, given its resemblance to the energy drink's winged logo.
31. WC Emoji
In real life, it's not the sexiest of signs, but in emoji form, it's been repurposed to mean "woman crush."
32. Dashing Away Emoji
This emoji is supposed to indicate someone running so hard they leave a trail of smoke behind them, but it now often serves as a symbol for vaping, as well.
33. Broken Heart Emoji
While this one is often used in the context of a breakup, it can also be used to represent grief, loss, or longing in any form.
34. Upside Down Smiley Face Emoji
This one is used by people who want to be perceived as silly or sarcastic. It can also be used to keep things light and playful whenever flirty content is being exchanged.
35. Hourglass Emoji
Unsurprisingly, this one can be used to let someone know time is running out. But on Snapchat, it means your streak, or the number of consecutive days you and a friend have exchanged Snaps, is about to end. It can also be used to describe other hourglass-shaped figures, including women.
36. Three Wise Monkeys Emoji
The infamous "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" symbol is text code for "OMG! I don't want to hear that."
37. Chef's Kiss Emoji
Also known as the "Italian hand gesture," you can use this emoji when you want to communicate that something is positive or exceptionally good. And yes, you can use your imagination when it comes to the sort of activities people may use it to describe.
When did emojis become so popular?
Emojis first surfaced in Japan during the late '90s, but the real boom occurred over a decade later when Apple added an emoji keyboard to its gadgets in 2011. Android followed soon behind, providing this functionality for users just two years later. Today, emojis have become well-integrated into our everyday communications. The addition is so celebrated that the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) has acquired Shigetaka Kurita's original emoji set for display.
That's it for our list of emoji meanings, but be sure to check back with us soon for even more ways to keep up with modern times. You can also sign up for our newsletter so you don't miss out on what's next!