emoji

noun
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 Then came a series of decisions from Apple: removing the Taiwan flag emoji, banning a Hong Kong protest map app from its app store (Apple has also removed the Quartz app from its China store). Mary Hui, Quartz, "China’s controversial South China Sea map is entering pop culture thanks to US companies," 15 Oct. 2019 Oancea wrote in the caption of the post, along with two heart emoji and the hashtag #powercouple. Jason Duaine Hahn, PEOPLE.com, "Pro Gambler 'Vegas Dave' and Host Holly Sonders Are Engaged: I 'Fell in Love with Him Instantly'," 18 Dec. 2019 His first emoji was of Foutou, a staple Ivorian meal made from ground cassava flour and mashed plantains. Aisha Salaudeen, CNN, "The student creating African emojis to change the story of Africa from poverty to beauty," 18 Dec. 2019 Yet none of these earlier attempts really took hold on quite the same level as emoji. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Never mind the naysayers: Emoji are a vital part of online communication," 1 Dec. 2019 Neutral-face becomes sad-face with the passage of time, sad-face becomes heart-eyes after a phone call from a woman, and those heart-eyes become mutual tears, before our emoji protagonist begins to self-medicate with pills, wine and hard drugs. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "The 100 Greatest Music Videos of the 2010s: Staff Picks," 26 Nov. 2019 Even better, those friends could send you a quick emoji that popped up on your screen simply to remind you that your friends were thinking about you. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft plans to kill off Windows 10's People app," 14 Nov. 2019 Brace yourselves: There just aren't enough fire emoji symbols in the world—and the CMAs audience definitely agreed. Ivy Jacobson Ford, Country Living, "Carrie Underwood Gave the Steamiest CMAs Performance and We're Sweating," 14 Nov. 2019 The email is distinctively Collins, with unusual capitalization, odd spellings, and even a text emoji and an lol, text-speak for laugh out loud. Freep.com, "John Norman Collins — one of Michigan's most notorious killers — pens letter to the Free Press," 11 Nov. 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

Time Traveler for emoji

Time Traveler

The first known use of emoji was in 1997

See more words from the same year

Statistics for emoji

Last Updated

9 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Emoji.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emoji. Accessed 22 January 2020.

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

to help to grow, develop, or succeed

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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