Online Dating

What Does This Emoji Mean? 20 Commonly Confused Emojis and Meanings

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different emojis people texting

Emojis are the little characters or icons that live on your phone. They’re there to liven up text conversations because, let’s face it, it’s nearly impossible to judge feelings over text. Emojis make that a little bit easier.

However, most emoji names are very literal and don’t apply to how people use them in real life. So, here’s a list of all the confusing emojis you need to know to be less 😕 (confused) and more 😎 (confident).

20 Commonly Confused Emojis 🤔

#1. Upside-down face (🙃)

It depends on context, but the upside-down face emoji usually shows sarcasm, irony, or silliness. Use it to lighten the mood or clarify that you’re joking over text.

upside down face emoji example text message, sample upside down face emoji

#2. Melting face (🫠)

Is it hot, or is it just you? Joking.

Although this emoji looks like it’s melting because of a hot day, people usually use it to show dread via a smiling but dead inside vibe, like this meme:

This is fine, dog in burning room meme, melting face emoji

#3. Loudly crying face (😭)

Another emoji with tons of meanings. Most people use it to express a “This is so cute, I can’t take it” reaction or to show sadness in a humorously dramatic way.

louding crying emoji text message example

#4. Smirking face (😏)

For about 90% of interactions, this emoji has a sexual, suggestive undertone and is commonly used for flirting. If an emoji could have a reaction to a “that’s what she said” joke, it would look like this.

smirk face text message

#5. Skull (💀)

This might sound totally ironic, but trust us on this one. If there were ever a time not to use emojis, it would be the skull for anything death-related.

In fact, this emoji is mainly used to show extreme humor, when something is so funny, “you’re dead.” It’s the digital representation of something so savage or hilarious that it feels like a comedic knockout punch.

skull emoji gif

#6. Woman/Man shrugging (🤷‍♀️/🤷‍♂️)

Perhaps the most passive-aggressive emoji on this list is the shrugging emoji. It should be used to show you don’t know something, an emoji version of “idk” but… it’s not used this way.

This is the emoji of pettiness and arguments. It’s like “idgaf” (I don’t give a f***) more than “idk.”

shrug emoji text sample

#7. Hot face (🥵)

The 🥵 emoji is a multi-tasker. It can mean you’re literally hot, you find someone attractive, or you’re feeling stressed. Pair it with 🌡️ (thermometer) if you’re sweating, 💧 (droplet) if you’re thirsty, or 🔥 (fire) if you’re feeling flirty.

If you receive this emoji with a compliment or as a direct message, it’s a flirt, so be sure to reciprocate if you like! It’s giving “holy crap, you’re so sexy” energy.

hot face emoji text messages

#8. Neutral face (😐)

The neutral face emoji conveys a sense of boredom, seriousness, indifference, or a lack of interest in the convo or situation. It’s similar to “ope” or “meh” in real life, like this example:

neutral face gif

#9. Thumbs up (👍)

The thumbs-up is extremely dependent on who it’s coming from. For some, it can mean, “Roger that!” like an act of confirmation, but should be paired with text like “Yep 👍” or “Got it! 👍”. But for others, it’s a passive-aggressive “cool story, bro.” For this, we’ll show you two cases:

Ex 1, the confirmation:
thumbs up as confirmation, emoji thumbs up

Ex 2, the rude, passive-aggressive one:
thumbs up emoji used in sarcastic way

When used as a reaction, the thumbs-up emoji is a way to confirm, accept, or acknowledge the message without needing a response. Like this:

thumbs up emoji used as reaction

#10. Smiling face with heart eyes (😍)

This emoji is used to flirt, compliment friends, and/or fall in love with anything beautiful/cute/cool. People use it all the time for travel shots, to comment on puppy pics, or to flatter someone they’re interested in. So this begs the question: How soon is too soon to send your love interest the heart eyes emoji? And when is the proper occasion?

If you’re feeling a vibe, anytime is a good time; just don’t overdo it. But put yourself (and your interest) out there by replying to an outfit pic or a selfie with the heart eyes emoji every now and then. It’s a sweet way to hype each other up behind the scenes.

heart eyes emoji

#11. Smiling face with hearts (🥰)

This emoji is often used in response to a compliment to show that they felt the love. Other ways we’ve seen it used are to express gratitude for something, “Thank you 🥰” or to share something cute and wholesome, “Omg, so cute 🥰.”

smiling face with hearts reaction

#12. Smiling face with tear (🥲)

This emoji is a mix of feelings. It’s happiness in sadness, a stroke of luck in a moment of despair. It represents feelings like joy after a period of sadness, bittersweet moments, feeling touched or moved, or even a sense of relief or gratitude that comes with tears of happiness.

smiling face with tear emoji

#13. Grinning face with sweat (😅)

First things first, nobody uses this emoji as sweating.

This emoji conveys a feeling of minor to intense awkwardness. Maybe you’re at your last straw, but you haven’t completely lost it yet. Think, “I just called into work sick, and my boss saw me at the restaurant having mid-day mimosas” vibe.

Basically, if you’ve just narrowly avoided chaos, this is the emoji for you.

grining face with sweat gif, man hiding behind a bush

#14. Nail polish (💅🏼)

If you’re in a conversation where the nails have been thrown out, you might be in the middle of a catfight or about to hear some saucy drama, aka “tea.” Hopefully, it’s the latter. Some peeps use the nail polish emoji as the classy, women’s equivalent to 😎(sunglasses) for convos like, “I just landed two new clients 💅🏼.”

kermit sips tea meme, nail polish emoji

#15. Raised hands (🙌)

The raised hands emoji is all about celebration and good vibes. It’s like a virtual high-five, perfect for expressing excitement or pride. When someone sends you this emoji, they’re basically inviting you to share in their joy. We’ve also seen it used as a “praise the lord” or “thank god” vibe.

raised hands emoji text message example

#16. Folded hands (🙏)

This emoji confused people when it was released. Everyone thought it was prayer hands, and some might argue that’s exactly what it should still be used for.

Now, you can use it for the following:

  • To send well wishes, “Get better soon 🙏”
  • To show thankfulness, “So happy he was here to help me! 🙏”
  • To give a virtual high-five, “Well done on the assignment, you rocked it! 🙏”
  • To greet someone or say goodbye, “So nice to meet you! 🙏”

As you can see, there are a few different ways to use this emoji, but all of them are positive!

#17. Eyes (👀)

The usage of the eyes emoji really depends on the personality of the person sending it. Among friends, it could be used as “oh sh**,” like something is up. Among work colleagues, it could mean they’re taking a look, getting eyes on a deliverable, etc.

Overall, we recommend using it to express curiosity or to show that your interest has been piqued, like “I’m listening 👀,” or “So, you’re saying you won the lottery? 👀”

Remember the 🥵 (hot face) emoji? The eyes can be used similarly to flirt, but they’re less intense. Next time you want to be suggestive or comment on someone’s attractiveness in photos, try to use the eyes with a smooth message like, “You look amazing in that outfit 👀.”

#18: Face with rolling eyes (🙄)

This one stays true to its name. Although it’s frequently mixed up with the “pleading face” emoji 🥺 and mistaken to mean puppy-dog eyes, the overall consensus is that it is an eye roll of annoyance or frustration. It’s similar to an IRL, “Ugh, really?!” and you can use it to show distaste like, “I can’t believe she said that. 🙄”

#19: OK hand (👌🏼)

Once again, we have an emoji with versatile meanings depending on the application. In comments, like on TikTok or Instagram, the OK hand emoji is used to show approval, a “well done,” or “facts.” A lot of people use it sarcastically though, as a shrug-off, like this:

okay hand emoji

#20: Hugs (🤗)

This emoji is typically used to convey a sense of warmth, affection, or support towards someone, often in the context of a friendly or intimate relationship. It stays true to its name and can be sent as a hug.

hug emoji gif

Your Emoji Questions Answered

Do the meanings of emojis change over time?

how do emojis change over time?

Yes, emoji meanings can and do change over time, especially when a comment goes viral. But emojis also have contrasting meanings for individual generations. If your grandma texts you, “Dinner is served! 🍆” it can mean something completely different than if it had come from a partner.

eggplant emoji gif

Is there ever a bad time to use emojis?

too many emojis in a dating app bio

The answer to this question depends on who you ask. We advise avoiding emojis when:

  • Communicating in the workplace: emails, presentations
  • Resolving conflict or delivering bad news
  • Writing academic papers, essays, etc.
  • Applying for jobs, i.e. cover letters or resumes
  • They’re the only context about you in a dating app bio

Can you use too many emojis?

emojis every text message

A lot of the time, people use a few different emojis to describe one feeling, for example, embarrassment: “Girl, I can’t believe I fell getting out of the taxi. So embarrassing! 🫣😅😂😫😭”

Sure, five emojis in the end is too much, but literally any individual or any combination of these emojis could be used to describe the emotion. So that can get confusing if social cues aren’t your strong suit, especially over text.

If, at any point in your texting, you feel like you might be going a bit overboard with emojis, ring it back in.

In general, women tend to lean away from men who send emojis every single message. It feels a bit pretentious and overeager.

From what we’ve seen on Reddit, men feel the same way. Sometimes, a lot of the time, less is more.

Does reacting to a message with an emoji hold the same weight as sending it in a message?

This can get confusing, but when you’re reacting to messages in a group chat or 1:1 text exchange, emojis hold less power because they feel less direct. Check the message sequence below:

heart eyes reaction

In this case, if they had just responded with the heart-eye emoji, the conversation would likely have ended. Since they heart-eye reacted to the message instead, they still got their point across without leading the conversation to a close.

Responding to just an emoji is difficult and can make you seem disinterested. Avoid sending only emojis as responses unless you intend to end the conversation.

Attract attention with photos, hold interest with emojis

We can’t text for you or decode messages in real time (although we wish we could), but we can help you improve your profile photos for dating apps, social media platforms, and LinkedIn!

The more quality attention you get with your photos, the more opportunities to test out your newfound emoji knowledge with texting. 🥳

Try a dating, social, or business photo test on Photofeeler here!