The 25 Best and Most Popular Emojis

Long gone are the days of trying to jam punctuation marks together and hoping that they kind of look like a face — and honestly thank goodness for that. If you weren’t around for that era, be glad that we finally figured out the technology of just putting little cartoon faces in text.

Emojis have become such an integral part of our digital society that there was a movie made about them. Granted, not a fantastic movie, but certainly a fun movie. And what would even be the point of emojis if not to have a little fun?

There are so many emojis out there that you’ll probably always be able to find the right one for a specific situation. Despite that, probably 10% of emojis see 90% of the use. These are the creme of the crop, the ones that are somehow all that we ever need. But then comes the question: who is the best of the best? Keep reading to find out.

A girl texting on her phone.

25. Face Savoring Food

If you are looking rub the delicious meal you had in other people’s faces, look no further than this smiling goofball with their tongue sticking out. You might think it would be weird that an emoji with such a specific use would be so popular, but the internet loves talking about food. From everything to food bloggers to people chatting about dinner plans, not a day goes by where you wouldn’t have a great chance to use this emoji. On top of that, this emoji is the closest relative to the old 😛 face from the emoticon days, so there is no doubt some people using this with a little bit of nostalgia trip in mind.

24. Expressionless Face

Technically, this face is supposed to represent no emotion whatsoever, but anyone who has ever seen it in action knows that is not what it is used for. The flat mouth and eyes are a sure way to illustrate that someone is annoying you. People who like to make bad puns and be sarcastic will no doubt find themselves on the receiving end of the expressionless face on the regular. Every so often, you might even see this also used as a suspicious face — the eyes are flattened, almost like someone squinting when they think you are up to something.

23. Victory Hand

People from the United States and similar countries might know this better as a “peace sign” — an outward-facing fist with the index and middle fingers extended out in a V shape. That is what it is most commonly used for, internet shorthand for “we come in peace.” Of course, in some cultures, it is still more readily recognized as “V for victory.” It makes for an equally good greeting and farewell gesture, but be careful because people sometimes use the peace sign as a sassy way to end arguments.

22. Smiling Face with Sunglasses

Many of the most popular emojis are some variation of a happy face — people would prefer to be happy than sad after all. In general, this is just meant to be a way to express feeling good. Since this emoji is wearing sunglasses, you’ll sometimes see it as shorthand for feeling cool, since everyone knows cool guys wear shades. This emoji comes up when talking about vacations as well since people like to vacation in places where it is sunny.

21. Pensive Face

“Pensive” is not a commonly used word anymore, but this emoji certainly is used pretty often. The best way to describe it would be a medium-sad expression — a downturned face, sad eyes, and drooping eyebrows. As you can imagine, this is the emoji people often use when they are disappointed or are just not having the best day. The face is also used as a way to show sympathy for someone experiencing hardship.

20. See No Evil Monkey

This one might seem a little weird– a smiling monkey covering his eyes with his hands. This emoji is a part of a set of three, where one of the others is covering his ears and the other is covering his mouth. It is directly inspired by a Japanese proverb: “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” The popularity of this proverb is why these emojis are so commonly used. In the modern world of emojis, these normally come up whenever people are getting up to no good. That might be with the “see no evil” monkey is more popular since it can convey a sort of p[lay ignorance. “I didn’t see anything.”

19. Person Tipping Hand

Of the many different forms of emojis, the ones of these little avatars performing actions are second in popularity only to the round yellow faces. This emoji has three different forms — male, female, and a gender-neutral person — all standing with one hand flipped over, palm in the air. The image itself does not convey a specific emotion or action, but it is most commonly used when people are giving advice. On the flip side, this emoji is often put backhandedly at the end of a statement, as a sort of sassy way to say “But what do I know anyway?”

18. Raising Hands

Hand emojis are a solid third place on the popular emoji forms podium. This one is of two hands being raised into the air, with a bit of a splash art for some extra pazzazz. People with cause to celebrate will often be using this emoji. If you happen to be religious and also a frequent texter or social media user, you might find yourself using the raised hands to be synonymous with the act of praise. 

17. Flushed Face

There are not too many ways to interpret a face with huge, buggy eyes and rosy cheeks. If you need to let someone know you are embarrassed, but kind of in a fun way, this is the emoji to be using. You’ll often see this come up in flirty scenarios, either with people trying to be coy or for the folks that have cold feet when it comes to that sort of thing. As weird as it might sound, getting this is usually kind of a good sign, but a less experienced emoji user might just be trying to tell you the last thing you said to them made them uncomfortable.

16. Beaming Face with Smiling Eyes

It is a bit of a weird description, but it sounds stranger than it is. This emoji is just the definition of a bright smile — an ear-to-ear grin so deep that you close your eyes. There is a broad range of things this emoji can communicate, from feeling proud to goofy, showing thanks or that you feel appreciated. The raw positivity is no doubt why so many people use this emoji. Come on, just look at that face and tell me you don’t feel like smiling.

15. Smirking Face

Wanna look smug? Trying to be flirty? Perhaps both? Then is this the emoji for you. The side-eye and raised corner of the mouth are perfect for teasing, bragging, and everything in between. It even gets bonus points as being the perfect thing to tag some backhanded sass onto a response in an argument. The potential uses for this emoji are almost too many to list, but be warned, using it comes with the risk of getting on the other person’s nerves.

14. Weary Face

This is the perfect way to illustrate to someone you have had a long day. The emoji looks like someone with their eyes closed caught in the middle of a groan. “Weary” is a synonym for “tired,” but you can also use this as a means to express general frustration or even disappointment. There are some cases where people are trying to be funny and use this as a moaning face, as a silly response to some good news.

13. Relieved Face

Immediately topping an exhausted face is its opposite. The soft smile and gently raised browse are the perfect way to indicate a job well done. This is likely the calmest of the smiling faces, so if you are happy but find some of your other options to be over-the-top, then this is just the right emoji to use. It’s just so hard not to look at this little guy and feel a bit more at ease. Though, if you are in a spiteful mood, this can certainly be used as a bit of a smug smile, if that ever happens to be useful.

A guy texting on her phone.

12. OK Hand

Another of the hand emojis makes it a bit higher on this list, this time to let everyone know that it’s going to be okay. If you need to let someone know you are safe or that they are correct, then this is the perfect shorthand — pun intended. You’ll also sometimes see this used to mean that something is high quality. For example, if your friend asks how the food you had for lunch tasted, sending him this would indicate that it was awesome. It is worth mentioning that there is some drama surrounding this emoji and its similarity to a racist hand signal. Of course, not everyone using this is using it in such a despicable context, but it’s best to be aware of these things to avoid any sort of confusion.

11. Unamused Face

This emoji has a similar side-eye going on as the Face Face, but he is clearly not impressed with whatever is going on. As the name would imply, this is a great way to shrug off someone’s lame joke in a playful way. Or, if someone said something kind of mean, you can use this to let them know that you aren’t happy about them saying it. You can also let your friend know if you are suspicious or skeptical of something, a slightly less aggressive way to say “Sure…” Any sort of mild displeasure is easy to signal with this emoji.

10. Face Blowing Kiss

You are much more likely to exchange texts and social media correspondence with people that you are affectionate towards than people you don’t like. So, a lot of emojis that show affection rank high on this list, and this is the first. It is a simple face blowing a little red heart, indicating blowing someone a kiss. There aren’t too many ways to bend this emoji — it is clearly intended to be used in romantic or flirty contexts. You could use this with your friends if you are being silly, just be careful not to send the wrong message.

9. Loudly Crying Face

Sometimes you aren’t texting or posting about things that are good news, and this is a great emoji to tack onto a post about something sad. Though, you might be better suited to use this for not too tragic news. Stuff like your favorite character in a show dying, a bad haircut, staining a cute shirt, things like that. You’d think that the hands-down saddest looking emoji would only be reserved for truly bad stuff, but actually bad things usually put people off of using cute animated faces.

8. Thumbs Up

The hands are back at it again, continuing on the positivity train. Much like the OK hand, this is a great short response to let someone know you are doing fine or answering “yes” to a question. This emoji gets the boost from being a pretty universally accepted symbol of good — hard to think of a scenario where giving someone a thumbs-up could make them upset.

7. Astonished Face

This is the king when it comes to showing surprise with an emoji. The raised eyebrows and gaped-open mouth with a few teeth showing are great from everything from general surprise to outright shock and awe. It’s also an okay face to show understanding as if to say “Oooh, gotcha.” It’s also a decent way to express being excited about something.

6. Two Hearts

The second of the affection-showing emojis to crack into the top ten. This one has two pink hearts right next to each other, one of them a bit smaller. This one is used for more serious romance or to show things like familial love, so if you are interested in flirting, maybe avoid this one, it sends a strong message. Part of why this one is so cute and popular is because the two hearts implies two people sharing love between themselves. 

5. Folded Hands

Calling this hand emoji “folded” seems a bit odd, but “hands clasped together with the palms touching and fingers pointed up” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. This is a common gesture to signal praying in a lot of religions. As such, you see it used in religious contexts quite often, but also just generally showing hopefulness and support is also an understood use. In some cultures, the hands being clasped together in this position is a gesture asking for forgiveness, so that is something to be aware of.

4. Rolling on the Floor Laughing

Ah, “ROFL,” how far you’ve come. This is the peak when it comes to showing laughter, the little face is wide-mouthed, crying tears of joy, and tilted to the side a bit to show that they are laughing so hard that they lost their balance. Sometimes, you see this paired with the right-side-up counterpart to show someone rolling back and forth. Everyone loves a good laugh, so it makes a lot of sense for it to be so popular.

3. Smiling Face with Smiling Eyes

This is a slightly more cheerful version of an emoji that appeared much lower on this. The main difference is that the smile is a bit wider and the flush in the cheeks is a bit more pronounced. For whatever reason, this one is way more popular than its counterpart, possibly because it is happier and people like to be happy. Fun tidbit, this emoji was featured in one of the most retweeted tweets of all time.

2. Red Heart

People love to be loved, and what better way to show it than with a big red heart? There are actually almost a dozen heart emojis with this shape, all with different colors, but red is one of the most popular emojis and the others didn’t even rank on this list. That’s because red has become a color deeply associated with love of all kinds, be it romantic, friendly, or even erotic. The great part of this having such a wide variety of uses is that you don’t run too big a risk of making someone feel awkward if you use it.

1. Face With Tears of Joy

The number one emoji might look a bit familiar to another one on this list. It’s not entirely clear why this one has so many spots over its tilted counterpart. Maybe people want to show they are laughing hard, but not too hard. This specific emoji is the most popular emoji used on Twitter by a pretty wide margin. People love to laugh, and what better way to show you are laughing than a big smiling face with some tears streaking out the corner of its eyes?

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