Emoji have come a long way in recent years, going from smiley faces made with brackets to depicting, with great detail, different human expressions and emotions, among other things.
In that time, everyone in the world must have fallen in love with using emoji, because literally everyone does. OK, not literally everyone, but nearly: According to Unicode, 92% of people around the world use emoji in their communications.
For many, texts don’t feel complete without an emoji present. They’ve even infiltrated emails, making our requests seem less demanding one harmless smiley face at a time.
And while emoji can help convey emotion and meaning in a written message that otherwise might be misinterpreted, they sometimes add to the confusion.
Thousands of people in the U.S. search the internet each month in hopes of learning just what an emoji means, according to an analysis of Google search data from gambling.com. Those results may not be comprehensive, though, as different cultures may associate different meanings with certain emoji.
So, which emoji confuse people in the U.S. the most? We’re breaking down the most searched emoji meanings recorded in 2022.
Most confusing emoji
Before we go any further, I know what you’re thinking: Shouldn’t the plural form of “emoji” be “emojis?” Unfortunately, no -- the appropriate plural spelling is “emoji.” (I know, I don’t like it either.)
Moving on ...
It may not surprise you that the most searched emoji meanings in 2022 were related to emoji that have come to take on sexually explicit meanings, despite their intended use.
For example, data shows that the eggplant emoji confused people the most, as the meaning behind it was searched more than any other emoji each month. Emojipedia defines this emoji as a “long, bulbous, bright purple eggplant, or aubergine in British English, shown with a leafy stem.” However, because the shape is phallic in nature, Emojipedia also says it’s used to represent a male sex organ.
Emoji with the most frequently searched meanings in 2022 included: the “woozy face,” the peach, the “pleading face” and the nazar amulet.
Emojipedia says the meaning of the woozy face “widely varies, but commonly conveys intoxication or infatuation. Its dazed expression may also represent such feelings or states as bewilderment, irritation, disgust, exhaustion, wackiness, or complete satisfaction.”
For the peach, while it literally depicts a peach, it is “most commonly used for ‘buttocks,” Emojipedia says.
The pleading face emoji likely represents begging or pleading, but may also indicate “adoration or feeling touched by a loving gesture.” When used in sequence with pointing hands, the emoji could represent a bashful or shy pose, Emojipedia said.
A nazar is an eye-shaped amulet commonly found in Turkish culture and other cultures in the Middle East and Asia. It is believed to offer protection against the “evil eye.” According to Emojipedia, the emoji version of the nazar is also used to “represent eyes, various senses of looking, various senses of charms, envy and jealousy, and Turkey and Turkish culture. Also used for its blue color more generally.”
Here are the 20 emoji with the most frequently searched meanings in 2022, according to gambling.com:
Most popular emoji in 2022
There are more than 3,600 emoji in the Unicode Standard, which essentially is a standard for emoji that ensures they are recognized across different devices and platforms.
For example, if an eggplant emoji is sent from an iPhone to an Android phone, both users will see an eggplant emoji on their screen. The design of the emoji will look different on each device, as is the case for almost all devices and platforms, but the general icon is the same.
In 2022, the most popular new Unicode emoji, determined by Twitter usage, was actually two emoji: ❤️🔥 -- a heart and fire together, signifying a heart on fire. In 2021, the most popular emoji on Twitter was the “loudly crying face” 😭.
Because the 2022 data hasn’t been released yet, here were the 10 most frequently used emoji in 2021, according to Unicode:
- 😂 Face with Tears of Joy
- ❤️ Red Heart
- 🤣 Rolling on the Floor Laughing
- 👍 Thumbs Up
- 😭 Loudly Crying Face
- 🙏 Folded Hands
- 😘 Face Blowing a Kiss
- 🥰 Smiling Face with Hearts
- 😍 Smiling Face with Heart-Eyes
- 😊 Smiling Face with Smiling Eyes
Previously on Data Drop: