Emojis have developed secret meanings — here’s what they actually mean

Language is always evolving online. Now that people are more connected than ever, internet communities have a way of reshaping and reappropriating language. Emojis are no different. 

You might think you know what certain emojis mean just by looking at them. But thanks to the ever-changing internet, some emojis have entirely different connotations than they did just a few years ago. Here are the new meanings behind some old emojis. 

Tears of joy and rolling on the floor laughing emojis 😂🤣

While these emojis are supposed to mean you’re laughing so hard that you’re crying, Gen Z has attributed a different meaning to them. Basically, Zoomers associate these emojis with out-of-touch millennials. The emojis just feel dated but not old enough to be considered retro or classic yet (but you just wait). So if you use them, you’ll pretty much be dubbed a corny old fogie. 

Upside-down face emoji 🙃

While the upside-down smile emoji is typically used to express sarcasm, it has another purpose. If you’re text-flirting or being vulnerable, you can drop the emoji to imply you’re sort of joking but not really. 

Crying emoji 😭

The fact of the matter is that you wouldn’t use a crying emoji to tell someone you’re actually crying. The crying emoji is best when deployed for comedic effect. Instead of the tears of joy emoji, most would opt for the crying emoji when they’re laughing. 

Skull emoji 💀

While the skull represents death, again, you should never use it in earnest when someone has died, or else you’ll seem insensitive. The skull denotes a figurative dying. For example, when someone makes a very funny joke, you might say you are “dead” (with laughter) and drop a skull emoji for emphasis. 

Exhaling face 😤

The emoji with steam escaping its nostrils was originally intended to express anger. However, it’s actually more of a victorious face, implying that you went H.A.M. (hard as a motherf*****) or beast mode to achieve something, like a tough workout or winning a competition. 

Chair emoji 🪑

The chair emoji is a viral inside joke on TikTok. The user Anthony Mai convinced his followers to use the chair emoji instead of the laughing emoji to confuse people. 

Eyes emoji 👀

The eyes emoji is an impactful way to respond to thirst traps and conspiracy theories alike. The shifty eyes are a way to say you are appropriately scandalized by whatever is going on. 

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