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Here’s What We All Think These 11 Emojis Mean and What They Actually Mean

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Be honest, how often do you text a cartoon icon to your BFF, spouse, or kid, instead of writing out a complete sentence? Emojis have become part of our cell phone vernacular, and the appeal seems to be getting stronger by the day.

With that being said, recent buzz on the Internet has alerted us to the fact that we had been misusing a good portion of our everyday emojis. Talk about embarrassing!

To correct this, we turned to the utmost authority on emojis, Emojipedia, and we cross-checked every single available emoji. (You’re welcome!) As it turns out, we counted a mind-boggling ELEVEN that we had been using wrong this entire time. Eek!

Here are 11 emojis with truly puzzling meanings.

  1. The Tongue Out

    emoji 1

    We’ve gotta admit, we use—or rather ABUSE—this emoji a lot! We always interpreted it as being silly, flirtatious, or even lazy. But, in actuality, this symbol is entitled ‘Face Savoring Delicious Food’. That coy tongue is meant to show that you are noshing on some yummy cuisine. Who knew?!

  2. The Single Tear

    emoji 2

    For years, we assumed that this emoji was meant to convey sadness, or even empathy, but that little droplet isn’t a tear at all—it’s a bead of sweat! You see, this character is actually called ‘disappointed but relieved’ or ‘eyebrow sweat’. We guess we see it!

  3. Hands on the Head

    Emoji 3

    We always likened this image to a ballerina with her hands in fifth position, but we were oh-so wrong. This lady is actually just throwing her hands up in an ‘O’, the universal symbol meaning “OK.” Whoops!

  4. Man with the Green Cross Hat

    emoji 4

    Sure, this man may have a cross on his hat, but his profession has nothing to do with a hospital. This just happens to be one of the many emojis that reflect Japanese culture. In Japan, laborers, specifically construction workers, wear hats adorned with green crosses. We were nowhere near close on that one!

  5. Clasped Hands

    emoji 5

    Yet another example of how Japanese culture is seen in the emoji ‘alphabet’, this symbol has nothing to do with praying or high fives; it is actually meant to represent a “thank you” or a ‘half-bow’. Good to know!

  6. Green and Blue Symbol

    emoji 6

    We’ll be real here, this was one emoji that we never had a chance to misuse, because we could never really muster up the courage to type it in the first place! We thought it might be a kite or a flag that we were unaware of, but it is actually a very common symbol in Japan, called the ‘Soshinsha’.

    Believe it or not, every new driver in Japan is required by law to stick one of these symbols on the back of their car, and over the years, it has become a sort of short-hand for ‘newbie’. Now you know how to burn your friends in Japanese!

  7. Not-So-Happy Face

    emoji 7

    We don’t know about you, but we generally use this emoji during times of upset, pain, or great annoyance, but, as with the rest of the items on this list, we’ve been using it WRONG. It may seem far-fetched, but this emoji actually translates to ‘very tired’.

    Yeah… we know. No offense, emoji artists of the world, but we can’t quite figure out how this face is meant to portray sleepiness. Better luck next time!

  8. Cute, Pink Building

    emoji 8

    When it comes to embarrassing emoji blunders, we think this one takes the cake. We always thought this adorable, pink building was meant to resemble a hospital. Sure, it may be a little ‘Hello Kitty-esque’, but we felt it looked like a medical building of some sort, nonetheless.

    Well, this benign-looking cartoon is actually the universal symbol for something much sleezier—a pay-by-the-hour hotel, or ‘love motel’, as they are referred to in many parts of Asia. Yep, not quite a hospital…

  9. Stinker

    emoji 9

    Ok, ok, this doesn’t necessarily follow the conventions of this list. After all, this symbol is poop and ONLY poop, but it has a completely different connotation in Japan, where sending this emoji can actually be a sign of good luck. This is because the Japanese word for ‘poo’ sounds similar to a common phrase that well-wishers use. Talk about unexpected!

  10. Heat

    Emoji 10 2

    While this may look like a universal symbol for a hot beverage or meal, it is actually the visual representation of ‘hot spring’ in Japan. That one almost doesn’t seem fair!

  11. Speech Bubble

    emoji 11

    This is another emoji that we have always stayed away from using because we just weren’t too sure what it meant! This particular illustration was developed by the AdCouncil to curb online bullying.

    It is called “I Am a Witness,” and it is meant to be used by someone who has observed an Internet user being cruel to another. Because teens generally have trouble calling each other out, developers felt that this could be a more peaceful substitute. We like it!

Now that you know the true meaning behind these often misused emojis, we’d like to hear from you! How many of these are you guilty of misusing? Are your surprised by their true meanings? Do you have any surprising emojis that you would like to add to the list?