All language is metaphorical in nature. Words have no inherent meaning, and your ability to “understand” language is based entirely on habit, personal experience, and context. And if you don’t believe me, ask your relatives what your favorite emojis mean.
Emojis are a form of language, just like the written or spoken word. And a single emoji can convey more emotion than a large paragraph of text, assuming the recipient understands what you’re trying to communicate, of course.
For example, a teenager may not understand the complex meaning behind the “disguised face” (🥸) emoji. This emoji is an homage to Groucho Marx, or more specifically, it’s a reference to the novelty plastic cups that parody Groucho’s appearance.
An adult can use “disguised face” to show that they are in a silly or cunning mood, but these meanings require prior exposure to “Groucho Marx glasses” which some people lack. Youngsters might even find this emoji off-putting as it resembles the (relatively new) stereotype of a creep or predator.
The abstract meanings behind emoji is an interesting topic. But Adobe decided to investigate something a little more exciting. He found the least understood emoji in the United States and even found out how age can affect your interpretation of an emoji.
According to Adobe’s 2022 US Emoji Trends Report, cowboy (🤠), cherry (🍒), and upside down (🙃) emoji are deeply misunderstood. In fact, they are the least understood emoji in the United States, with the cowboy taking the top spot.
When we organize this data by age, Baby Boomers and Gen X get the same basic results: they don’t understand the cowboy, cherry or upside down emoji. But Millennials and Gen Zers have trouble understanding the no-mouth (😶) emoji. And in particular, Gen Z doesn’t get the Groucho Marx emoji (🥸). (Not a single generation understands the cowboy, which is funny.)
Oddly enough, there are some emoji-focused themes that don’t depend on age. People of all ages say that they like the poop emoji (💩) the least and are most likely to use emoji in conversation when they have a crush on someone.
What can we learn from this data? Well, probably nothing useful; it’s really funny and interesting. Check out the 2022 US Emoji Trends Report for more emoji facts.
Source: Adobe (1, 2) via CNET