Deciphering Emoji Is Easy With This Tool

Some people research emoji, and they're here to help you.

Zachary McAuliffe Staff writer
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Zachary McAuliffe
Shelby Brown
3 min read

Tennis shoe, smiley face, rocketship, pasta, am I right?


When is a text more than just text? These days, text messages can include words, pictures and emoji to convey a message. While words and pictures can be easily understood, deciphering emoji can sometimes feel like decoding another language. 


With over 3,000 emoji, there's one for almost anything.


A "😃" or "❤️" are simple enough to understand, but what's the difference between "😩" and "😭"? Over time, emoji meanings have become subjective depending on a message's context and wider cultural trends. 

Which shaking smiley face should you use? Is there a difference between each different colored heart? Does the peach emoji actually mean fruit anymore? Here's how to figure out what all 3,782 emoji mean. 

Read more: 5 Best Emoji Keyboards for Android and iOS

Emojipedia is here to help

Emojipedia is an online encyclopedia of emoji managed by people who research emoji. The site sorts emoji into nine categories, including Smileys, People, Objects, Activity and more. Each category then breaks down emoji into further subsections. So if you click into Smileys, for example, you'll see sections like Smiling & Affectionate and Sleepy & Unwell.

If you click individual emoji, Emojipedia will give you a brief description of that emoji. For example, here's what Emojipedia writes about the  "😶‍🌫️" (face in clouds) emoji: 

"A face that appears surrounded by clouds or a haze of smoke. Ambiguous in appearance, this may represent a foggy state of mind, confusion, or even a sense of calm bliss. May also be used to indicate the presence of smoke."

Emojipedia will also give you a list of other emoji that this particular emoji works well with. In the case of the face in clouds emoji, Emojipedia's suggestions include the "🚬" cigarette and the "🌪️" tornado -- quite a range there. 

What's a text message without an emoji or two?


Each Emojipedia entry also shows you the different artwork for each emoji across platforms, as well as how the artwork evolved throughout time. The emoji entry will also show you shortcodes and other names for each emoji, if applicable.

What are the most popular emoji?

While you may have your own go-to emoji, according to Emojipedia, these are the most popular emoji as of the beginning of May. The list changes periodically so what's popular now might not be popular next month or around a holiday. Note that not all platforms support all the latest emoji, so they may not all appear on your device.

How often are new emoji added?

While anyone can submit an idea for a new emoji, the Unicode Standard -- a universal character encoding standard -- is responsible for creating new emoji. The most recent batch of emoji was released with Emoji 15.1 in September 2023; Apple's iOS 17.4 was the latest update to bring new emoji to all users. It included over 100 new emoji, including a lime, phoenix and broken chains. 

All this just for emoji?

Yeah, but wait there's more! Emojipedia also hosts the World Emoji Awards on World Emoji Day, July 17. Awards are given for things like Most Popular New Emoji and Most Anticipated Emoji. Winners are determined by popular vote on X, formerly known as Twitter, and any emoji approved the year prior is eligible to win. 

New emoji to come to iPhones with the first iOS 16.4 developer beta

New emoji are added every year, and there are even awards given out for new emoji.


The winner for the Most Popular New Emoji in 2023 was the pink heart (🩷) followed by the shaking face (🫨) and the light blue heart (🩵). The winner of the Most Anticipated Emoji went to the head shaking horizontally (🙂‍↔️) and the Most 2023 Emoji award went to the melting face (🫠) and honestly… yeah, that fits.

In 2022, the winning emoji was the face holding back tears (🥹) and the runner-up was the heart hands emoji (🫶). The most anticipated award in 2022 went to the pink heart emoji (🩷). 

For more, here are the latest approved emoji, how to react to messages with emoji on your iPhone and how to use emoji instead of comments in Google Docs.