Emojis. A primer, a quiz, a question

Loved this article on emojis - a quiz on what you think they mean, the revelation people interpret them very differently (including poll numbers), a fun article, some useful advice, some new ones.

Hopefully the link below works (can’t tell as subscriber, and no share option. If not accessible, perhaps someone can correct that.)

My question: Have you ever had, or have a good story about, a badly-interpreted emoji?

After my gf’s relative died, she got a text from a coworker that puzzled her because of the laughing :joy: emoji. The coworker texted an apology later. She thought the emoji was crying, not laughing hard.

It’s paywalled for me (in Canada).

Try this, might work better.

That worked, thanks!

The thumbs-up emoji is definitely the one I use the most and the article confirmed that it’s #1 with Gen X (e.g. me) and Boomers.

I’ve also heard of folks sending the praying emoji :pray: under similar circumstances.

It was interpreted as a high five.

“My mom passed away this morning”
“High five!”


I’m not a great fan of emojis, or indeed icons of any kind. As used in modern cars or road signs, for example.

They’re supposed to be language-independent and self-evident in meaning, but as we see, that ain’t necessarily so.

Give me a short, to the point, piece of text…

A privilege of a unilingual society… Pictograms and symbolic messaging become much more useful in multilingual societies.

Finding “universally understood” symbology can be difficult. I’m still on the hunt for a “push” and “pull” that doesn’t involve a little man with an arrow but I’m not sure it exists. The “running man” green sign as Exit locators are becoming more common to replace EXIT/SORTIE signs in Canada.

I’ve dealt with engineering where the signs were tested per ARP8996 to confirm the ease of understanding. Unfortunately, in general public spaces, there’s no such control for emojis, business signage, etc.

I am no expert in symbolism. But “push” might be a pictograph of a man pushing a boulder up a hill, or a frustrated man or group of men pushing a car from the back? Too Sisyphesian? “Pull” could be a representation of tug-of-war, or a dude on a rowing machine.

Sure, might take some time for these to be understood. But they also might be amusingly misinterpreted.

I used to reply to many of my gf’s texts with “k”, meaning yes, okay, whatever. Some people believe that is rude, so I’ve switched to a :+1: thumbs up emoji.

They should have questioned people on :cherries:.

I’ve seen a lot of versions of the stick man pulling and pushing a door handle, sometimes with an arrow, sometimes with the door curving as if it’s made of paper to indicate the direction of the applied force.

This looks ok on a store’s door, perhaps, but looks a little silly and nonsensical for pushing on a spring-loaded cover to open a compartment.

In the applications I use, there’s also the desire to not have large, tacky looking placarding. Text can be better here, and is generally the solution applied, but two or more languages take up space and there’s a need to pay for translation services (an acquaintance told me the story of a mistranslated “exit” sign into Arabic, if I recall correctly, where the translated text was closer in meaning to “evacuate”, only in the crude way of “shit yourself” and not “exit this way in an emergency”).

That’s my most favorite emoji.


Everybody knows the international symbol for push is a pregnant woman delivering a baby.

Liking that emoji takes balls. Unless you prefer slots. Or smoothies.

“This content is available to GlobeandMail dot com subscribers.”

Nope. Same message.

Same here. (uk)

I get sent a lot of these “green with envy” emojis :nauseated_face::face_vomiting: when I post photos of myself.

I appreciate the gesture, but it’s a little embarrassing to be put on a pedestal for being attractive.

Nice! At first I thought they could show broken water for verisimilitude. On second thought I’m glad this was omitted. No reason one could not combine text with glyph, of course.

(Having posted the link, then eventually acquired a share link (one runs out of these quickly), I am not sure what else I can do to make the link more useful. Perhaps someone savvier than I can help? The link does have fancy graphics that may make it less compatible.)

I’m too sexy for this song, the waaay I’m disco dancing? :musical_note: