Emoticon vs Emoji (Definition and Difference)

Emoticon vs Emoji (Definition and Difference)

With the advent of mobile telephony came various applications we use in instant messaging. Sometimes we need the other person to feel our emotions and we use certain characters that convey such emotions. This gave rise to the Emoticon vs Emoji (Definition and Difference) phenomenon and this is what this post examines.

Emoticon vs Emoji (Definition and Difference)

We use these two in conveying paralinguistic or non-verbal communication or messages. Remember the cliché that says a picture is worth a thousand words? Then let us see what an emoticon and an emoji are…

What is an Emoticon?

This word evolved into the English language through the process of word formation that we refer to as ‘clipping and blending’. The two words involved are emotion and icon. An icon is one of the types of signs common in the field of Semiotics. (See Branches of Linguistics). Let us see the definitions as proffered by some popular dictionaries…

An emoticon is a symbolic picture made from keyboard characters; an arrangement of keyboard characters intended to convey an emotion usually viewed sideways. (Encarta).

It is also defined as a group of keyboard characters that typically represents a facial expression or suggests an attitude or emotion and that is used especially in computerised communications such as e-mails or other instant messaging applications like WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, and many others. (Britannica)

An emoticon is a group of keyboard characters typically representing a facial expression or an emotion or otherwise conveying tone or attitude that is used especially in computerized communications such as e-mail. (Merriam Websters)

What is an Emoji?

Emoji is quite related and somewhat synonymous with an emoticon. An emoji refers to any of various standardized icons that we use in electronic messaging to express an emotion or specific meaning.

Difference between Emoticon and Emoji

The major difference between an emoticon and an emoji is that in the case of an emoji, you might not really wish to convey an emotion but all you want to do is represent the information you wish to pass across with a particular symbol. In this case, you make use of an emoji which could be quite symbolic. (See three indices of sign under Semiotics in the post Branches of Linguistics).


You have definitely been making use of emoticons and emojis but you are not sure what they mean or if both refer to the same thing. I would be glad if you can send me a message in the comment box using emoticons and emojis to convey your emotions or whatever you wish to represent.

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