In Honor Of World Emoji Day, Here Are 10 Surprising Emoji Facts

Photo: Courtesy Apple.
The world just celebrated an important event, but you may not have even realized. Recognized on July 17, World Emoji Day is basically a made-up holiday to champion our favorite, ubiquitous graphic icons, but hey, we dig it, because who doesn’t love emoji? And as we learned about this young holiday, we also discovered some surprising history about our favorite smileys, hand signs, and aubergines.

1. Not every emoji means what you think it means.
In fact, we’re using some of them straight up wrong. For example: The emoji with steam coming out of its nose is actually supposed to represent "look of triumph," not anger or frustration. And the face with what looks like a tear dripping from its eye? It’s actually a nasal bubble, and in Japanese culture, it represents sleep.

2. The process of becoming an emoji is no small feat.
All emojii are designed, approved, and unified by the Unicode Consortium, a nonprofit organization that makes sure characters like emoji can be rendered accurately across different computing platforms. Unicode Version 8.0 was just released in June — and with it came a variety of new emoji, like the taco! We’ll see these adopted later this year or next year.

3. Emoji are used in 35% of all Venmo payments, and we use the pizza emoji the most.

But, according to Quartz, the wine icon is our second favorite.

4. There is a book entirely written in emoji: Emoji Dick.
Edited and compiled by Fred Benenson, as the name would suggest, it’s an emoji-only version of Moby Dick. You can buy an actual print version of the book for $40.

5. Apple has a surprising secret in some of its emoji.

In iOS, emoji that feature text in their icon actually use text from Apple’s famous “Think Different” ad campaign. Both the clipboard and book emoji use this text.

6. Wikipedia correctly redirects the URL for some emoji, like the cocktail glass.
So if you type glass icon), it would take you to the page for cocktail glass.

7. Instagram banned hashtag searches for the eggplant emoji.
Apparently, content under that tag is too NSFW for our eyes, or more specifically, eggplant-hashtagged photos were consistently used "for content that violates [Instagram's] community guidelines." But you can just use two or more eggplants instead to get around this ban.

8. People who use emojis have more sex.
According to one study conducted by, people who use emoji have more sex than those who don't.

9. A company is trying to promote the adoption of emoji passcodes.
An emoji-based passcode system could make it easier to remember your password, as the images often form a story, and our brains remember stories better than just a series of letters and numbers.

10. The history of the emoji began in 1862.
In 1862, the first smiley face emoticon was reportedly used. In the 1960s, this evolved into the iconic yellow smiley of hippiedom. In the late 90s, true emoji graphics began to appear on the web.

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