Emoticon vs. Emoji: The Key Differences Explained

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Emoticon vs. Emoji: The Key Differences Explained

People have been using emoticons, smileys, and emojis to fill gaps in communication since the invention of keyboards and displays. When you text, there are no subtleties, mimics, or tone, so you put in a smile to ensure the message is understood in the spirit meant.

Is there a distinction between emoticons and emojis, and where do smileys come in? Let’s get the facts straight.

Are Emoji and Emoticon the Same Thing?

Don’t let the internet fool you: emojis and emoticons are not the same thing. Even media behemoths like the New York Times and BBC have used the phrases interchangeably. They do, however, have diverse meanings.

The fact that both emoticons and emojis are used to spice up text discussions and put passion into them creates misunderstanding. It doesn’t help that they sound similar.

However, the distinction between both is straightforward: emoticons are combinations of keyboard symbols such as letters and punctuation marks, while emojis are images. We’ll go through this in further depth later.

What Is an Emoticon?

An emoticon, as we quickly discussed above, is a collection of punctuation marks, characters, and numbers organized to resemble a human face. Each emoticon is more or less widely recognized and represents an emotion or, in some cases, an item. For example,:-D denotes laughter or a broad grin,:-O denotes astonishment, and 3 is the closest thing to a heart.

However, Eastern and Western cultures have quite diverse collections of emoticons. Western emoticons, for example, must be read sideways, from left to right, but Eastern emoticons do not need to be rotated and may occasionally utilize non-Latin symbols.

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Emoticons Started With a Joke Gone Wrong

On the Carnegie Mellon University message board in 1982, Neil Schwartz posed a physics puzzle using mercury and a candle. Howard Gayle, his coworker, responded:

“WARNING! The leftmost elevator has been poisoned with mercury as a result of a recent physics experiment. There is also little fire damage. Decontamination should be completed by Friday at 08:00.”

It’s simple to guess what occurred next: the prank went horribly wrong, causing fear on campus. According to mythology, this is how the emoticon came to be.

Dr. Scott E. Fahlman, a computer scientist at CMU, proposed that all jokes on the message board be labeled with the:-) set of characters, which resembled a happy face flipped sideways. A distinct cast of characters, such as:-(, would accompany all serious postings. These typographic faces proliferated and were known as emoticons or “emotion symbols” on the internet.

What Is an Emoji?

An emoji (plural emoji or emojis) is a pictograph, a little image that may depict anything from a happy smile to a mango to a cigarette butt. Every year, new emojis arise to the joy of smartphone users. The term “emoji” literally means “image character” (from Japanese e – “picture,” and moji – “letter, character”).

Unicode, a computer industry standard for encoding, has equivalent codes for thousands of emoji. Messengers, social networking applications, and browsers interpret the code and display a visual that corresponds to it. Because separate software has slightly different visuals, an emoji sent from an iPhone may not be the same as what the receiver sees on an Android phone.

Here’s how to obtain new emojis on Android, and how to get them on your iPhone.

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They may also have diverse meanings, such as the Snapchat emoji meanings.

Some Emoji and Emoticons Are Interchangeable

To further complicate matters, certain emojis have emoticon analogues. Most of the round yellow faces on your smartphone have matching sets of characters that, depending on your age, you may or may not recall.

Some of them, like the:$ that correlates to the Flushed Face emoji, are difficult to read if you don’t know what they originally represented. Others, like the ‘,:-| that stands for the Face with One Eyebrow Raised, are easily identified. A few more non-face emojis have typographic counterparts as well. There’s a /3 for Broken Heart, a couple others for Rose, and even a *|:?) for Santa Claus!

What Is a Smiley, Then?

We apologize for opening a whole new bag of worms here, but we must handle this. A smiley, in general, is a visual depiction of a happy face, in whatever shape it may take. The original emoticon:-) and the Slightly Smiling Face emoji both qualify as smileys.

A “smiley” was originally the yellow smiling face made in 1963 that became a symbol of rave culture. However, when emoticons began to appear in chatrooms, we began to refer to them as smileys as well. In ICQ, Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, and other turn-of-the-century hangouts, smileys got increasingly intricate, diversified, and even animated.

How and When Did Emoji Replace Emoticons?

Shigetaka Kurita, an interface designer for a Japanese mobile provider at the time, designed the first widely used emoji in 1999. Others existed two years earlier, but it was the 1999 set that gained popularity in Japan when cell carriers integrated it into their messaging services.

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According to Shigetaka Kurita’s interview with Vice, the first emoji ever created was a heart symbol. Faces with varying emotions then appeared, inspired by individuals the designer witnessed in the city. The original collection featured 176 symbols representing emotions, weather, sports, and common items.

Emojis were incorporated to the Unicode standard in 2010, enabling tech titans such as Apple and Google to offer emojis to consumer devices. When iPhone and Android users realized they could add those adorable tiny photos to their messages and posts, they rejoiced. Emoticons, which used to dominate text communications, have becoming scarce.

Emojis, as you may know, have mostly replaced emoticons in internet chats. If you still miss the Shruggie, you may find lots of them on the internet.

Take Your Emoji Game to the Next Level

Emojis have taken over chat rooms, Instagram posts, and even professional emails. It, if you’re going to utilize them, you should do so wholeheartedly.

There are several ways that may help you acquire even more emojis to pick from or come up with an appropriate emoji answer quicker. You may expand your options by using different emoji keyboards and using predictive text to have your phone substitute text with emoji—the possibilities are really limitless.

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