Something I'm curious about: what do people think about the word "emoji" vs "emoticon"?


Follow-up poll: if you've heard both these words, and they mean different things to you, what are those?

(in both these polls there're some options I fully expect nobody to choose, but I went ahead and added them anyway to complete symmetry just in case)

@starseeker emoji is a style for displaying unicode characters

emoticons are :) and 😃 (when presented as an image rather than being rendered in a font)

@starseeker Emoji are an interpretation of combining Unicode characters using zero-width joiners to do things like change colors or even add figures to a completely new single glyphs. They follow a common standard that may have differing implementations across platforms.

Emoticons are icons that are inserted in-line into text via a text parser by replacing arbitrary text and are displayed identically across platforms, as they are images, not glyphs. Some lump text smileys in here.

@starseeker The key to understanding this is that "ji" is Japanese for "character," like kanji (Chinese characters) or romaji (Roman characters). Emoji is an emote character.

By contrast, emoticon is a portmanteau of "emote" and "icon." As an icon, it is an image, not a character.

Text emotes are more properly simply "emotes" or "smileys," though both terms are generally also acceptable for emoticons and even emoji. However, text emotes are text, not icons or single glyphs.

@starseeker Other: Emoji are the Unicode characters included in the Emoji ranges, can be rendered however the client likes. Emoticon a less precise term to describe textual attempts at representing a face (or w/e)

@starseeker I don’t tie emoticon to ASCII because you can do an emoticon on a typewriter from the 1930s if you want :)

@starseeker pictures-in-text is stuff like 😃 and ASCII-art-faces is stuff like :D and ^_^, right?


as of right now a whopping one third of voters are willing to call :) an emoji

this is a lot higher than i'd expected

@starseeker final count after poll closed: 32%

would not be enough to veto a corporate supermajority but still statistically hella significant

@starseeker I treat emoji and emoticons as different categories of pictures-as-text, tbh, but that might just be because I grew up with the smiley face images in AIM/MSN/forums being called "emoticons". To me, that's what the word will always be associated, while "emoji" is specifically the Unicode-standard font symbols. Text-only stuff is just "smileys".

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