What Do All The Face Emoji Mean? Your Guide To 10 Of The Most Common Ones
Welcome to this article about emoji usage, brought you by someone who almost exclusively uses the purple smiling devil face because I feel it best represents my essence. And also all the witchy emoji, because duh. But see, friends, that is the beauty of this whole thing. We're in this together, to discover once and for all, what all the emoji actually mean. Today, let's get back to basics: What do all the face emoji mean? There are over 50 face emoji, according to Emojipedia, so maybe we should all double-check that we know what each one is and when it should be used.
Let's start what the word "emoji" means. Did you know that it means "picture letter," or pictograph, in Japanese? You do now! Think of emoji as their own alphabet, with each little face representing a specific emotion. Seems obvious, but I don't know your life. Maybe all these variations on a smiley dude freak you out.
Sure, there are hand emoji, cat emoji, heart emoji, and more — but it's the faces that are somehow both the most straightforward and hardest to use, in my opinion. I could text peace signs and exploding hearts and angry cats all the livelong day, but Smooching Face? How? Why? Which version of Smiling Face do I even use, and why are there so many of them? These are the important questions, friends. And we shall answer them — or at least, we'll answer them for 10 of the little pictograms right now. It's worth it to start small, so here's what 10 of the most commonly-encountered face emoji mean.
1. Smiling Face With Open Mouth
Also known as: Smiley Face, Happy Face, "OMG My Braces Are Finally Off" Face.
Great for: Congratulations, good news, finding the bright side of bad news, excitement, joie de vivre, sarcastically pretending your life doesn't suck, just sayin' hey.
What Emojipedia says: "A yellow face with smiling eyes and a broad, open smile, showing upper teeth and tongue on some platforms. Often conveys general happiness and good-natured amusement."
This one's a classic, guys. I started out easy. I know I said we were in this whole "figuring out faces" thing together, but if you still need help with the basic smiley face, then... I don't know, man. I just don't know.
2. Smiling Face With Open Mouth And Cold Sweat
Also known as: Happy Sweat Emoji, Exercise Face, "The One With The Gross-Sounding Description" (or maybe that's just me).
Great for: Exercise-related messages; also moments of tension, relief, or embarrassment.
What Emojipedia says: "Intended to depict nerves or discomfort but commonly used to express a close call, as if saying Whew! and wiping sweat from the forehead."
Fun fact: This emoji is essentially the cousin of "Smiling Face With Open Mouth," because, as Emojipedia notes, they share the exact same open mouth. Another fun fact? Emojipedia says that some people use this particular emoji to denote exercise — I'm guessing few people are using it for that, though, unless your treadmill jams are especially bopping.
3. Angry Face
Also known as: Grumpy Face, The Grimace.
Great for: Anger, grouchiness, mean muggin', shouting "How dare you!" over text, bullying someone into giving you the pizza that they just posted on Instagram.
What Emojipedia says: "Conveys varying degrees of anger, from grumpiness and irritation to disgust and outrage. May also represent someone acting tough or being mean."
Since anger itself takes many forms, it's appropriate that this emoji seems to vary pretty widely across platforms — according to Emojipedia, its mouth and eyebrows change shape across platforms, and it's even red on platforms like Google and Mozilla. Worth noting in case you're texting from a less red version like Apple, lest your friend get it and think you're at that level of rage.
4. Neutral Face
Also known as: Straight-Faced Emoji, "...."
Great for: Responding to the news that your BFF's new BF wears fedoras on the reg, "not saying anything" about your co-worker's claim that crystals healed her asthma, generally passing judgement 24/7.
What Emojipedia says: "A yellow face with simple, open eyes and a flat, closed mouth. Intended to depict a neutral sentiment but often used to convey mild irritation."
I love that this very non-neutral face is called "neutral." It perfectly fits with the seriously passive-aggressive vibes it throws out. Per Emojipedia, it's also a close cousin of "Expressionless Face," which features the same straight line mouth shape on both of the eyes.
5. Face Blowing A Kiss
Also known as: Kissy Face, Blow A Kiss, *Kissing Sounds*.
Great for: Sending love, being cheeky after maybe being a little ~too~ honest about something, "being nice" or whatever.
What Emojipedia says: "May represent a kiss goodbye or good night and convey feelings of love and affection more generally."
This was initially branded as "Face Throwing A Kiss" when it was added to Unicode's emoji lineup in 2015, according to Emojipedia, which certainly raises a lot of questions about how one would commit to "throwing" a kiss — particularly since our little emoji friends have no limbs. Either way, it manages to get the job done, one wink at a time.
6. Winking Face
Also known as: Winky Face.
Great for: Sassing everybody in your contacts list, reminding your friend who exactly she smooched at the bar last night, making non-committal sex jokes.
What Emojipedia says: "A yellow face with a slight smile shown winking, usually its left eye. May signal a joke, flirtation, hidden meaning, or general positivity. Tone varies, including playful, affectionate, suggestive, or ironic."
Mostly I just use it for sex-related jokes, to be honest — but Emojipedia notes that it's not to be confused with its close cousin, "the more mischievous or sexual Smirking Face." That's right, everyone — the future is here and it wants to give you as many nuanced ways to hit on your contacts as possible.
7. Face With Stuck Out Tongue
Also known as: Cheeky Emoji, Licky Face, "LOL JK I Love You" Face.
Great for: Goofin' on your pals, alleviating that social gaffe you just made over text wherein your sarcasm translated directly and your mom actually thought you were never, ever coming home ever again.
What Emojipedia says: "A yellow face with small, open eyes and a big grin, playfully sticking out its tongue. Can variously convey a sense of fun, excitement, silliness, cuteness, happiness, or jesting, as if saying Just kidding!"
This emoji is yet another one with some very close cousin emoji, including n Winking Face With Tongue and Squinting Face With Tongue. Basically, it's important to know that if you want to stick your tongue out at someone virtually, you have multiple options at your disposal; "Face With Stuck Out Tongue" is just a classic among many.
8. Smiling Face With Heart-Shaped Eyes
Also known as: Heart Eyes, Love Face, "ASOS Is Having A Big, Big Sale" Emoji.
Great for: Expressing your love for people, expressing your love for things, expressing your love for food, conning people into buying you things and food.
What Emojipedia says: "A yellow face with an open smile, sometimes showing teeth, and red, cartoon-styled hearts for eyes. Often conveys enthusiastic feelings of love, infatuation, and adoration, e.g., I love/am in love with this person or thing."
Note that this face can be used either directly to mean "I Love You," or as the emoji equivalent to puppy-dog-eyes. And also note that it comes in cat form, too, if you're feeling like mixing things up with a "Smiling Cat Face With Heart-Eyes." To each their own.
9. Crying Face
Also known as: Teary Emoji, Sad Face.
Great for: Sad stuff, or sad stuff that you're actually relishing, like hearing that your ex got their phone stolen after not texting you back for three weeks.
What Emojipedia says: "A yellow face with raised eyebrows and a slight frown, shedding a single, blue tear from one eye down its cheek. May convey a moderate degree of sadness or pain, usually less intensely than Loudly Crying Face."
Use it literally; use it sarcastically; either way, we get the point. It's pretty straightforward, unlike its weird smiling counterpoint. Plus, it also comes in a cat version, so now you can experience the range of sadness both in human and feline form.
10. Face Screaming In Fear
Also known as: Home Alone Emoji, "The Scream" by Edvard Munch.
Great for: Fear, horror, brain-freeze, learning that your new roommate hates Cher, sharing the news that Macaulay Culkin is now in a pizza-themed, Velvet Underground cover band called "The Pizza Underground."
What Emojipedia says: "A yellow face screaming in fear, depicted by wide, white eyes, a long, open mouth, hands pressed on cheeks, and a pale blue forehead, as if it has lost its color. Its expression evokes Edvard Munch’s iconic painting The Scream."
I'm into the fact that his little shiny head is all blue, like his brain literally cannot compute whatever horrible information it's received. That's pretty much what I imagine going on in my own head.
Well, there you have it, folks — a rundown of some of the most commonly-encountered face emoji out in the wild. If you want to check out the rest of the dozens of face emoji at your fingertips and dig into their deeper meanings, you can do a quick search on Emojipedia, which has been saving us all from our technologically-confused selves since the dawn of emoji texting.
This article was first published on July 18, 2015. It was updated on June 17, 2019.