Just in case you missed it, Emoji are way in! How in? Well, here’s the Oxford English Dictionary’s “word of the year”: 😂
That’s technically “Face with Tears of Joy.” Here’s their rationale:
Emojis are no longer the preserve of texting teens – instead, they have been embraced as a nuanced form of expression, and one which can cross language barriers. Even Hillary Clinton solicited feedback in the form of emojis…
As they note, emojis are different from emoticons and their apparent etymological similarity is purely coincidental:
An emoji is ‘a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion in electronic communication’; the term emoji is a loanword from Japanese, and comes from e ‘picture’ + moji ‘letter, character’. The similarity to the English word emoticon has helped its memorability and rise in use, though the resemblance is actually entirely coincidental: emoticon (a facial expression composed of keyboard characters, such as ;), rather than a stylized image) comes from the English words emotion and icon.
I’ve written over the past couples years about both emojis and emoticons, so color me vindicated. While they are associated with younger communicators and informality, I think emoticons and, now, emojis even more so are useful for clarifying emotion and intent in digital communication that so often lacks subtlety.