emo·​ji | \ ē-ˈmō-jē How to pronounce emoji (audio) \
plural emoji or emojis

Definition of emoji

: any of various small images, symbols, or icons used in text fields in electronic communication (as in text messages, e-mail, and social media) to express the emotional attitude of the writer, convey information succinctly, communicate a message playfully without using words, etc. The function of emoji, as [emoji developer Shigetaka] Kurita describes it—adding subtle emotional emphasis to a sentence in text—isn't too different from that of emoticons, the frowny and smiley faces that people have been making out of punctuation since the mid-1990s.— Britt Peterson — compare emoticon

Examples of emoji in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Nick shared the moment on Instagram, captioning it with a tennis ball emoji. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Priyanka Chopra, Nick Jonas, Sophie Turner, and Joe Jonas Go on a Sporty Double Date," 5 Sep. 2018 Lee, a former New York Times reporter and current vice chair of a group that makes recommendations for emoji, Messer's design for the ballet flat made it into the most recent round of updates. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "With This New Ballet Flat Emoji, Women Finally Have a Comfortable Digital Shoe," 9 Nov. 2018 Other newcomers Sokolowski shared are aquafaba, beatdown, zomboid, twerk, sheeple, wayback, bokeh, botnet, emoji, facepalm, frowny, hivemind, puggle and nubber. Leanne Itali, The Seattle Times, "Yowza! Scrabble dictionary update adds ‘OK,’ ‘ew’ to official play," 24 Sep. 2018 In addition to faster performance for all iPhones going back to 2013’s iPhone 5s, iOS 12 is bringing a completely new kind of customizable emoji, as well as group FaceTime and an easier way to share photos with friends. Madeline Buxton, refinery29.com, "Memoji, Group FaceTime, & All The New Features Coming To Your iPhone With iOS 12," 4 June 2018 Moments later, the image of a banana — Stephens’ personal emoji — flashes on a digital price tag beneath Stephens’ preferred brand of granola on a nearby shelf. Paul Roberts, The Seattle Times, "Kroger hopes Redmond QFC pilot with Microsoft will make it ‘retailer of the future’," 7 Jan. 2019 However, competing phones from Samsung have had the ability to create personalized emoji since earlier this year. Wendy Lee, San Francisco Chronicle, "Apple: Why we’re better than Google’s Android," 4 June 2018 Kardashian tweeted early Wednesday, appending a praying-hands emoji to the message. Nardine Saad, latimes.com, "Kim Kardashian West will visit the White House to talk prison reform," 30 May 2018 Others added a flurry of diamond emoji, which also got the point across. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Every Time Kylie Jenner Sparked Engagement Rumors With Diamond Rings," 6 Jan. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'emoji.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of emoji

1997, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for emoji

borrowed from Japanese, literally, "pictograph," from e "picture, drawing" + moji "letter, character"

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about emoji

Dictionary Entries near emoji








Statistics for emoji

Last Updated

17 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for emoji

The first known use of emoji was in 1997

See more words from the same year

Comments on emoji

What made you want to look up emoji? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an enemy or opponent

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Thing: Animal Edition

  • alt 5a023732e6f75
  • Name that animal:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!