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Parenting Cheat Sheet: The Meaning of Popular Emojis

October 25, 2016
Emojis and meanings

Today’s teenagers don’t use words anymore. From their perspective, it is too boring and time-consuming. They use emojis instead. Why? It’s fun, it’s interesting, and it’s fast. For you, as a parent, it may seem weird or sometimes even inappropriate. Why does your teen use so many emojis while texting someone? Looks like it is high time for you to boost your knowledge on modern digital communication.

Using Emojis Is the New Normality

Let’s start with the basics. What does emoji mean? This word has a Japanese origin and consists of two parts: e (絵, “picture”) + moji (文字, “character”). It is a graphical image or smiley, either static or animated, used in digital messages and web pages alongside the text. Emojis represent various facial expressions or real-life situations. To get to know how they look, please use The Emoji Dictionary. It contains the list of emoji meanings and definitions.

different emojis

Source: getemoji.com

How to use emojis? Depending on the app, a particular emoji can be inserted into the message by clicking the desired image. It also can be converted from text characters. The rich emoji collections are available on popular social networks, messaging platforms, and smartphone apps. Emojis make the text look straightforward and captivating.

As time goes by, the number of emojis is growing. When teenagers get bored with some of them, they start using new ones. Fortunately, the choice is vast indeed. Many teens have a set of their favorite emojis. Thus, they can create their personal communication style. It’s like handwriting. But way cooler.

The Most Popular Emojis to Use

Each emoji has a specific meaning. Some of them are easy to interpret while others are not. Usually, the simplest emojis are the most popular ones. They just leave no room for misinterpretation. Let’s take a look at the most popular emojis and meanings, though they may be already familiar to you.

popular emojis

Source: apalon.com

The Smiley, obviously, is iconic. It looks like a simple colon-parenthesis. This emoji is widely used alongside with salutations or any other content to express happiness. Are you in a good mood? Pick the smiley face! An interesting fact to know is that the first smiley was sent on September 19, 1982. So, this is the oldest emoji known today.

The Winky face is ranking second in the list of the most popular emojis. It looks as a semi-colon-parenthesis and reflects a playful mood. Also, it may signal a secret, which is supposed to be kept. In this case, the context is critical.

The Face with a stuck-out tongue is another well-known emoji. It looks as a colon-capital-P. Practice shows that it takes no effort to decode it. This symbol marks excitement, happiness, fun, and a set of similar positive emotions. Some teens take it as a silly face and avoid it in the messages.

The Face with tears of joy is a popular kind of laughing emoji. Sometimes, it is mistakenly confused with tears of sadness. Actually, this emoji indicates the message “LOL” (Laughing Out Loud). It is when you are laughing so much that you are literally crying.

The Face throwing a kiss looks like this: one eye is open, the other one is winking, and there is a red heart leaving the kissing mouth. This emoji is especially popular among friends and romantic couples. Some teens send them to their parents, too.

The Handshake emoji looks like two hands making a handshake gesture, which indicates a successful negotiation of the deal or a warm greeting between friends or colleagues. Also, it may substitute a word “Done.”

Emojis with a Negative Connotation

Negative emojis

Source: techinsider.io

It is a common mistake to think that emojis are supposed to express only positive emotions. We are people and don’t feel happy all the time. There’s nothing wrong about that. So emojis can display different feelings, as well.

The Unamused Face is much more like a grumpy gaze or a displeased look. The eyes are looking sideways, and corners of the smile are lowered down. This emoji is used to express dissatisfaction and lack of interest.

The Nauseated Face can have a double meaning. It is a green face having pursed lips as if it is going to vomit. This emoji may be used when the sender is literally sick and feels under the weather. Also, it can display disgust towards anything or anyone.

The Skull and Crossbones is a kind of danger emoji. There is a human skull located above a crossed pair of bones. It is a universally known symbol of death. Sending such emoji is usually taken as a threat or a danger warning.

The Pistol, or a gun emoji, literally displays a weapon. This emoji can be used to intimidate someone or warn them of a possible great harm.

Parents should learn the basics of modern digital communication, including emojis. It will help them keep up with the times and understand their teens with their problems better. Moms and dads just need to be ready to expose themselves to new things.

Do you know the meanings of popular emojis? Do you use them in communication?

Petra Lipfer
Petra Lipfer is a freelance blogger living in Orlando, Florida. She is passionate about everything concerting writing and the Internet. She is married and has two beautiful kids. She has a degree in Management and has taken several IT courses. Petra is a certified specialist in child online security. She enjoys blogging on everything concerning children, their security and parenthood in general. You can contact

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