Do you use the tears of joy emoji? 😂I hate you break it to you, but you need to stop. In case you haven’t heard, it’s not the preferred expression anymore, and using it outs you as an old geezer. Ancient even. Like over 30. Now that I’m officially old, I’ll just go ahead and ask: Is there a secret emoji language that no one’s telling me about?
Why does it feel like I’m constantly solving picture puzzles? Why do I have to worry that posting the wrong emoji on Instagram might suggest that I’m into some sketchy activity? If you’re feeling a little behind on emoji-speak or if your kids are using it and you’re lost, let’s play a game of catch-up. Here are 13 emojis that are so 🔥 you’ll be 👁️👄👁️ and feel much less 🤡.
Some Quick Insight First
Imagine reading a text on your son’s phone that says, “I asked her to the dance and she said no. 🤠”
Hang on. Did she say no because she’d already said yes to a cowboy? Not exactly. 🤠 = awkward or smiling on the outside, but dying on the inside. For real. But don’t worry. You didn’t miss out on some pop culture craze about an awkward cowboy. (At least I don’t think you did.)
Older generations tend to use emojis literally while Gen Zers use them with more creativity, nuance, and irony—hence the feeling that there is some secret emoji language. So when all else fails, just ask your kid (or younger Gen Z coworker) what a particularly enigmatic emoji means. That’s a much better option than pretending you know and then using it in the wrong context.
Now, where were we?
🔥 = lit, on fire, hot
🤡 = foolish/stupid
👁️👄👁️ = something shocking, or “It is what it is.”
🧠 = oral sex
👉👈 = shyness or hesitation—think “twiddling fingers”
🥺👉👈 = bashful or shy
❤️ or ✨ = added to a phrase to make it sarcastic, e.g. “Finals ❤️”
🤰 = The guy is so hot he instantly got you pregnant.
⌛ = complimenting someone’s body
🕷️👁️🕷️ = suggesting someone wears too much makeup
🐐 = someone is the G.O.A.T., the greatest of all time
💀 = I’m dead/dead/I’m dying. Whatever you said was super funny.
So what’s the preferred way to express laughter now if the 😂 is out? You could use 😭, but really, who cares? Emoji laugh the way you want to! Write “LOL,” “ha, ha,” use a 💀 or a 🤣. But whatever you settle on, keep it handy because when we’re trying to stay on pace with popular emojis, we’re going to need to be able to laugh at ourselves.
What other secret emoji language do you know?