Emoji meanings explained – here's what the aubergine and circus tent really mean and where the icons come from

Here’s everything you need to know about the tiny text images, and why you should always be careful before suggesting aubergine for dinner.

Where did emojis come from?

Emojis originated on Japanese mobile phones in 1998, but became popular in the 2010s when they were added to more mobile operating systems.

Apple introduced it into all their IOS keyboards in 2011, and their versions are usually the most recognised.

Before the text icons existed, people would use emoticons – creating facial expressions with punctuation marks such as ‘:-)’.

However, now emojis can include objects, weather symbols, transport, and symbols.

In 2015, the Oxford English Dictionary named Emoji (more specifically, the Face With Tears Of Joy emoji) as their word of the year.

How do they differ between different operating systems?

There are currently over a thousand emojis in the Unicode standard, which provides a number and name for each one.

However, they may simply be named“grinning face”, and don't specifically dictate what each one must look like – for example, the Pile Of Poo emoji is smiling on Apple, Google, and Microsoft, but has no mouth on the Samsung version.

A study by GroupLens at the University of Minnesota found that each emoji has at least 17 different versions, which can lead to miscommunications.

When they asked respondents to rate them from negative to positive, they disagreed around a quarter of the time (however, many would disagree even within the same platform).

What are the hidden meanings behind some emojis?

The aubergine, circus tent, and water splash are actually used as rude symbols, as they mean penis, erection, and ejaculation respectively.

The banana image can also be used when referring to a penis – so perhaps avoid suggesting moussaka or banoffee pie for dinner if you don’t want to appear rude.

The nail painting emoji can be used as an air of ‘sassy’ nonchalance, often used at the end of a sentence.

For the secret meanings behind many more emojis, we've got the list here – and you should be careful with the hotel one.

We also revealed how using smileys when texting your partner could help to strengthen your relationship.

And here's the emoji you should NEVER use when trying to chat someone up.

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