This is a first. Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is not a word, but rather an emoji – 😂 – ‘Face with Tears of Joy’.
Oxford Dictionaries said that the pictograph “best reflected the ethos, mood and preoccupations of 2015” and provided a brief history of the word: “An emoji is ‘a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion in electronic communication’; the term emoji is a loanword from Japanese, and comes from e ‘picture’ + moji ‘letter, character’. The similarity to the English word emoticon has helped its memorability and rise in use, though the resemblance is actually entirely coincidental: emoticon (a facial expression composed of keyboard characters, such as ;), rather than a stylized image) comes from the English words emotion and icon.”
The use of emojis has seen an enormous growth, as usage more than tripled in 2015 over the previous year. While emojis have been adopted as a form of expression, even bridging language barriers, they are always open to interpretation. What the writer tries to articulate while using a certain emoji might not necessarily mean exactly what it stands for or the recipient reads into.
Take the quiz below to see what I mean:
For the shortlist of other contenders for Word-of-the-Year, check out the article on Oxford Dictionaries blog.