6 Emojis That You've Been Using Wrong and Their Actual Meanings

Emojis have become an integral part of popular culture, so much so that the Oxford Dictionary named the face with tears of joy emoji as the 2015 Word of the Year. Emojis have become a way to express yourself without using words or text. However, the actual meanings of certain emojis tend to be very different from how they're popularly used. Here are six emojis that have taken on their own meanings, according to Unicode:

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This emoji is a member of the Queen's Guard, British military men who have been tasked with protecting the royal grounds. The Queen's Guard are stand guard outside the royal residences in London, donning tall black hats and red coats. 

Person With Folded Hands


Often used to signify a high-five between friends or to indicate someone praying, the actual use for this emoji can be attributed to Japanese culture. The clasping of hands signifies please or thank you in Japanese culture, while Westerners may see the hands as prayer, according to post on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Unicode lists the emoji as a person with folded hands.

Gawker also provides more evidence as to why this couldn't be a high-five, even though it's often used that way. "The thumbs are on the same side. When you bring your hands together to pray, your thumbs are on the same side," wrote Gawker's Allie Jones. "When you high five someone in a conventional manner — right hand to right hand — your respective thumbs end up on opposite sides." 

Face With Look of Triumph


Sometimes used to signify frustration or annoyance, this emoji has actually been labeled a face with look of triumph. The emoji is a face with air coming from its nose, literally "face with steam from nose" on the Unicode website. 

Person Bowing Deeply


Sometimes known as a person thinking deeply, Unicode lists this emoji as a person bowing deeply. In Japanese culture, a person bowing deeply can be used to ask for a favor, or to express an apology, according to BuzzFeed. With the focal point on the head of the emoji, it is easy to see how it can be misconstrued as a person thinking. 

"The Japanese know this emoji as a 'dogeza,'" BuzzFeed reports. "The use of the dogeza is to show respect and honor for the upper-class and wealthy."

Sleepy Face Emoji


Most anime fans would readily recognize the snot bubble forming at the nose of the emoji. Fans of Japanese cartoons and comics would point out that the bubble is used to signify a sleeping character, even though the emoji is often used as a sad face, or a sick face. Unicode calls this particular face the sleepy face emoji.

Face With OK Gesture

This emoji, which some assumed to be a ballerina performing a dance move, was intended to be used to signify an "OK" gesture. 

"It's supposed to be an OK symbol," according to Mashable. "The girl's arms are above her head because she's making an OK sign with her whole body (i.e. a circle, or large 'O'), which is a Japanese gesture." Unicode lists the emoji as face with OK gesture.