What Your Favorite Emojis Really, Actually Mean

Psst: You've probably been using those dancing leotard twins all wrong

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Emojis were first introduced in Japan back in the late 90s, after a group of Japanese people working for a telecoms company needed a way to distinguish their pager service from those of the competitors.

The teeny tiny illustrative cartoons were never intended to become popular for widespread use, but when Apple introduced their first iPhone back in 2007, they were forced to include an emoji keyboard buried deep in the operating system, as a way of appealing to the emoji-demanding Japanese market.

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But people outside Japan soon discovered the little emblems of emotion, and since then they have pretty much taken over the world. Emojis as a whole are now used more frequently on social networking sites like Twitter than the number 5, for Christ's sake.

So when we discovered that we were using some of our favourite emojis all wrong, we thought we'd share their original meaning, derived from Japanese culture, with you. Some make sense, while others are just beyond us. And ultimately, we don't think we'll be changing our emoji habits any time soon. But here are the REAL meanings of some of the best-loved emojis on that keyboard.

1) Dancing twins

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What we use it for: A symbol expressing excitement within a group of girls. Before a night out, those dancing twins are nearly always whipped out.

Its original meaning: Did you even realise those dancing twins were wearing bunny ears? We can't say we did. But they're pretty pivotal to its meaning, which is representative of the Japanese concept of a 'Bunny Girl' symbolising sex appeal (think Playboy bunnies) and often used in cosplay.

2) Shooting star

What we use it for: Well, basically, as a shooting star. Or as a way of glitzing up existing emojis that we think should look more magical. Like the previous lack of unicorn emoji, for example; the horse emoji with added shell and shooting star can instantly transform it into the mystical creature we so crave in emoji form. GENIUS.

Its original meaning: Er, so it's not a star at all. It's actually meant to indicate dizziness. Dizziness? Now we love emojis just as much as the next person, but the day we have to communicate our symptoms to our GP through use of emojis will be a sad one.

3) Praying hands

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What we use it for: When we're seriously hoping something will go our way, we whack out the praying hands. The gleaming halo of light behind them adds just the biblical touch it requires, don't you think? Some ill-informed folk will use this as a high-five symbol, but anyone who's anyone in the emoji game knows that's not right.

Its original meaning: In Japanese culture this symbol is used to express apology or gratitude. Which we kind of get. But there's still a strong argument for it being a high-five, we reckon...

4) Sassy hair flicking woman

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What we use it for: When we've just had our hair cut, or we've dolled ourselves up, we'll use the hair flick to illustrate how we're feelin' fine. But it can also be used to portray sass in a kind of 'mm-hmmmm' kissing teeth way, or EVEN to help you ask a question. Multi-functional, you see.

Its original meaning: This one will blow you out of the water. She's a bloody information desk girl. I mean, WHAT? When does anyone ever need to use an emoji to illustrate an information desk girl? Very rarely, that's when.

5) Poo emoji

What we use it for: This is such a versatile emoji. It can be used in the context of trying to make someone laugh, a filler for a lull in conversation, or as a means of insinuating you think someone is a great big turd.

Its original meaning: It comes from a symbol that means good luck. It doesn't mean 'here's a pile of poo to make you smile/laugh/cry' it simply means good luck. Because that's what poo means in Japanese culture, apparently. And who are we to judge.

6) Hands on head girl

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What we use it for: This is just a variation of the hands-on-head monkey. Always to be used in a 'oh my gaaaaad' way either to express shock or embarrassment.

Its original meaning: Because she's got her hands on her head, apparently she's converted herself into a human symbol for 'ok'. So instead of actually writing 'ok', the Japanese use this little lady.

7) Teardrop face

What we use it for: When we're feeling sad and probably have the capability to shed a tear or two over it. But not sad enough to warrant the emoji with the streaming tears.

Its original meaning: Well this is another sleeping emoji, believe it or not. And the tear is not a tear but is instead dribble. So it's a sleepy drool face, essentially. We quite like that idea, so we might try to spread the word about this one and start using it for its actual meaning.

8) Stop hands

What we use it for: When someone's saying something cringe or mean, we whack these pair out in a kind of 'WOAH stop it' way.

Its original meaning: Couldn't be more opposite. In Japanese culture, these open palms actually represent openness or a hug. Aw, we feel bad now for tainting its good intentions.

9) Aubergine

What we use it for: A penis.

Its original meaning: It's meant to be an aubergine, unsurprisingly. But our interpretation is much more fun.

10) Ill with cold sweats smiley

What we use it for: It's quicker than writing "I'm ill with cold sweats".

Its original meaning: Its technical definition, according to Emojipedia, is in fact 'disappointed but relieved face'. But does that really lend itself to many real-life situations? As far as we were aware, disappointment and relief were pretty much opposite emotions.

From: Elle US

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