'I'm sitting next to a weirdo on the bus' and other true meanings of emoji



So there’s going to be a film based on emoji. Of course there is, there’s a film based on everything these days. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. But the emoji film is going to have a tricky time getting the meanings of emoji right. It’s often the case that the symbols’ official Unicode Consortium titles do not relate to how we use them everyday.

The truth is, emoji can mean a vast array of things. Here are some examples of the kinds of ways the following emoji could be used; not necessarily how their creators intended. We’ve mixed in emoji as they appear on both Apple and Android products.

 Official name: Smirking face

emoji smirking

Probably one of the most popular emoji, the smirking face is perhaps closest to its intended purpose when used in day-to-day conversation. One-upmanship, nonchalant boasting, or sly good fortune. Examples:

  • I got 89% on the test. The class nerd got 86%
  • That person I was flirting with in the bar when you left? Yeah, about that …
  • Cashier accidentally gave me too much change

Official name: pensive face

sad face emoji

The “pensive face” does not look at all pensive, but instead is shorthand for quiet despair. It’s the signifier for the little defeats of modern life. Examples:

  • There’s a total weirdo sitting next to me on the bus, even though there are other free seats. Also, he smells
  • Woke up to realise I had texted the ex at 3am while drunk
  • Accidentally hearted someone’s Instagram photo from 2013

Official name: Nail polish

painting nails emoji

One of the greatest of emoji, if not the greatest. The emoji of true sass. This emoji either conveys a complete indifference, the embodiment of idgaf attitude, the equivalent of the But That’s None of My Business meme, or just absolute queenliness. Examples:

  • Ok, getting abused on Twitter, but I don’t care
  • Did a 10-mile run, smashed my personal best
  • Literally in response to anything Beyoncé does

Official name: New moon with face

creepy moon emoji

It’s a moon. Ostensibly a kind of friendly moon. But not according to the public. In popular parlance, this emoji is called “the creepy moon emoji” – although one entry on urban dictionary refers to it as the “molester moon”.

It’s also used in situations of social awkwardness. And it’s been known to be morphed with celebrity faces. Perhaps the best ever use, however, was the creepy moon reinvented as the wrecking ball in Miley Cyrus’ video. Examples:

  • Didn’t mean to brush your foot with mine under the table tbqh
  • What are you doing later? Because *creepy moon emoji*
  • Accidentally walked into the wrong gender toilets, did a quick 180

Official name: Speak-no-evil monkey

emoji monkey

The speak-no-evil monkey – proper name Iwazaru is one of the “three wise monkeys” in Japanese culture. Iwazaru’s nickname comes from the proverb: “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.

Of course, speak no evil isn’t really how most of us use this monkey emoji. More than not, it’s to express a visual “oops” at a minor faux-pas, or cheeky recognition that we’ve done something a bit naughty or stupid.

  • I just fell over on the street in front of many people. Texting you this in an attempt to style it out
  • It was too soon in this relationship to accidentally let out a small fart
  • I called my boss “mum”, and this will never go away

Official name: Person with folded hands

prayer hands

“Person with folded hands” doesn’t actually make much sense, so it’s no surprise that this emoji has adopted different meanings.

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who use the folded hands emoji to represent prayer, and those who use it to give a high five. Most people come down on the side of prayer hands. But, as rapper Drake, who has the symbol tattooed on his arm, points out: this debate will run and run.

Champagnepapi (Drake) discusses his “person with folded hands tattoo” on Instagram. Photograph: Instagram

Official name: face with medical mask

sick emoji

This emoji is pretty clear, if the medical mask wasn’t a give away, the bead of cold sweat points to this little yellow blob being sickly, but its general use isn’t as black and white as that. Examples:

  • Really did not want to see that YouTube video you sent me. Honestly, it was disgusting
  • Absolutely not ok with the gross sext some random just sent me on Tinder
  • I think I maybe hooked up with [insert name of entirely dodgy person]

Official name: runner

runner emoji

He’s not exactly dressed for proper exercise, which is just as well, because that’s not how runner is used. Examples:

  • I’m 20 minutes late, I know, but I promise I’m on my way and I’m really sorry, please don’t hate me
  • Here is what you should do in respect of your awful boyfriend/girlfriend who you argue with all of the time and text me about all of the time
  • What’s that? A marathon of The Good Wife? I’m there

Official name: Hundred points symbol

100 points emoji

The hundred points symbol is tucked away with all of the boring emoji: random shapes, utility symbols, boring arrows, but this emoji has really broken away from the pack to become one of the most used. It’s meant as show of agreement, or appreciation. Examples:

  • You’re on fire. Such strong game
  • I’m in total agreement
  • Go for it. You definitely should

Let us know in the comments below what feelings and situations you wish to convey when using certain emoji

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Hannah Jane Parkinson, for theguardian.com on Monday 27th July 2015 12.53 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


JefferiesAnd the Best Place to Work in the global financial markets 2016 is...

Register for Financial Markets News Alerts