The Cowboy Is Deeply Misunderstood, Says Adobe Emoji Report

Alluring, behatted and mysterious -- a new report says the cowboy emoji is more misunderstood than any other emoji.

Rae Hodge Former senior editor
Rae Hodge was a senior editor at CNET. She led CNET's coverage of privacy and cybersecurity tools from July 2019 to January 2023. As a data-driven investigative journalist on the software and services team, she reviewed VPNs, password managers, antivirus software, anti-surveillance methods and ethics in tech. Prior to joining CNET in 2019, Rae spent nearly a decade covering politics and protests for the AP, NPR, the BBC and other local and international outlets.
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An array of cowboy emojis, eight smiling, one looking sad
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His warm smile beams out from beneath the rim of his 10-gallon Stetson, bringing farm-to-text delight into every conversation he joins. Summoned by only the most brazen texters, his rambunctious presence offers a sudden jolt of rodeo-howling glee when he rides into a thread. The message he sends? A mysterious riddle. His delivery? Wild and untamable. No one, it seems, truly knows the secrets of the chaotically alluring cowboy emoji. 

At least, that's what Adobe said in its 2022 report, release Tuesday, on the motives and methods of emoji user trends. In the analysis, Future of Creativity: 2022 U.S. Emoji Trend Report, Adobe says that no emoji is more misunderstood among users than the lone cowboy. 

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"Generationally, Boomers (24%), Gen X'ers (18%) and Millennials (14%) are less sure of cowboy hat face than Gen Z'ers (10%)," Adobe reported. 

In second-least understood emoji among all groups was the cherry. The third-least understood, the upside-down smiley face. 

While the cowboy was most misunderstood among all emojis, he could have suffered a worse fate. There's one emoji all generations reported disliking more than any other -- the pile-of-poop emoji. 💩

Read more: 5 Emoji Keyboards to Make Texting More Fun