These Emojis Mean Something Entirely Different Than What You Imagined

5 min read
Emojis Meaning

We all love emojis, don’t we? Think of how often you text a cartoon icon to your BFF, spouse, or kid, instead of writing out a complete sentence. Emojis have become part of our cell phone vernacular, and the appeal seems to be getting stronger by the day.

When it comes to emoji meanings, we think all interpretations are fair. In fact, we encourage creative emoji usage. After all, they’re meant to be playful; emoji conversations are when you get to let your sass flag fly. Practically speaking, they’re also supposed to speed up and ease communication. And since we believe in the importance of being direct and straightforward, this open-interpretation policy can lead to some sticky situations and real-life mishaps that can’t be blamed on Mercury in retrograde.

With that being said, recent buzz on the Internet has alerted us to the fact that we had been misusing a good portion of our everyday emojis. To correct this, we turned to the utmost authority on emojis, Emojipedia, and found a number of emojis that are suffering from a terrible case of mistaken identity.

The Tongue Out

Tongue Out

This has to be one of the most used – or rather ABUSED – emojis around. We always interpreted it as being silly, flirtatious, or even lazy. But, in actuality, this symbol is entitled ‘Face Savoring Delicious Food’. That coy tongue is meant to show that you are noshing on some yummy cuisine. Who knew?!

The Single Tear

Disappointed But Relieved

We assume you will be like us – surprised to find out that what you thought was a tear is actually not a tear at all. For years, we assumed that this emoji was meant to convey sadness, or even empathy, but that little droplet is a bead of sweat! You see, this character is actually called ‘disappointed but relieved’ or ‘eyebrow sweat’.

Hands on the Head

Woman Gesturing Ok

We always likened this image to a ballerina with her hands in fifth position, but we were oh-so wrong. This lady is actually just throwing her hands up in an ‘O’, the universal symbol meaning “OK.” So we were about as wrong as you could possibly be on this one.

Man With Green Cross Hat

Construction Worker

This isn’t one of the more popular emojis, but it is one of the most universally misused when it is on display. Sure, this man may have a cross on his hat, but his profession has nothing to do with a hospital. This just happens to be one of the many emojis that reflect Japanese culture. In Japan, laborers, specifically construction workers, wear hats adorned with green crosses.

Clasped Hands

Folded Hands

“I’ll pray for you.” Obvious, right? You have probably seen this emoji used in that context just in the last few minutes. Prepare to be knocked off your prayer perch. This is yet another example of how Japanese culture is seen in the emoji ‘alphabet’, this symbol has nothing to do with praying or high fives; it is actually meant to represent a “thank you” or a ‘half-bow’. Good to know!

Not-so-happy Face

Tired Face

We don’t know about you, but we generally use this emoji during times of upset, pain, or great annoyance, but, as with the rest of the items on this list, we’ve been using it WRONG. It may seem far-fetched, but this emoji actually translates to ‘very tired’.

Yeah… we know. No offense, emoji artists of the world, but we can’t quite figure out how this face is meant to portray sleepiness. Better luck next time!



OK, we’re cheating a little bit here. This emoji means poop everywhere except Japan. In that country, where sending this emoji can actually be a sign of good luck. This is because the Japanese word for ‘poo’ sounds similar to a common phrase that well-wishers use. Talk about unexpected!



You look at this and you see an egg in a frying pan. So you’re cooking brunch, right? Actually, this is the emoji for the generic concept of “cooking.” Okay, so it does sort of make sense, and our moderate kitchen skills feel a little more legit now, but isn’t cooking usually a little more elaborate than frying an egg on a pan? Perhaps this could better represent a novice trying to make a quiche without giving up and saying, “Oh, forget it; I’ll just make scrambled eggs!”

Two Hands

Open Hands

We think it might mean, “whatever,” as in throwing up your hands, surrendering the argument – “Whatever. Do whatever you want; I’m out.” Apparently, all our sassiness was for naught.

Actually, it means open hands. “Two open hands, representing either openness or a hug.” That’s actually the direct opposite of what we’d imagined. This symbol also looks similar to the American Sign Language sign for “open.”

Green & Blue Symbol


Another not-so-often-used one that requires some clarification. We’ll be real here, this was one emoji that we never had a chance to misuse, because we could never really muster up the courage to type it in the first place! We thought it might be a kite or a flag that we were unaware of, but it is actually a very common symbol in Japan, called the ‘Soshinsha’.

Believe it or not, every new driver in Japan is required by law to stick one of these symbols on the back of their car, and over the years, it has become a sort of short-hand for ‘newbie’. Now you know how to burn your friends in Japanese!

Pink Building

Love Hotel

When it comes to embarrassing emoji blunders, we think this one takes the cake. We always thought this adorable, pink building was meant to resemble a hospital. Sure, it may be a little ‘Hello Kitty-esque’, but we felt it looked like a medical building of some sort, nonetheless.

Well, this benign-looking cartoon is actually the universal symbol for something much sleezier – a pay-by-the-hour hotel, or ‘love motel’, as they are referred to in many parts of Asia. Yep, not quite a hospital.

Where’s that “embarrassed” emoji? Assuming we haven’t misinterpreted that one too…