Word of the Day

Do you emoji?

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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


a small digital image or symbol used in electronic communication to convey an idea or feeling

Origin and usage

The noun emoji is Japanese in origin, and is formed by combining the words ‘e’ (picture) and ‘moji’ (character). It was first used in English in the late 1990s.


Today is World Emoji Day, a day dedicated to celebrating all things emoji. There’s lots of emoji content to enjoy on the blog, including a two-part interview with Jeremy Burge, who is the founder of Emojipedia and creator of World Emoji Day, conducted by our Senior Managing Editor Jo Jacomb. And if you want a sense of how quickly these little images have moved from being something that needed explanation to becoming an integral and unquestioned part of our lives, there’s a fascinating BuzzWord article from 2014 by Kerry Maxwell. If you raised an eyebrow at the verbing of emoji, then I have to tell you that emoji as a verb has been in the Macmillan Open Dictionary since 2016, submitted by a user in Morocco. You can submit words and phrases to the crowdsourced Open Dictionary here. Macmillan Dictionary will be getting some exciting new emoji content soon, so watch this space 😉.


“Some emojis are interesting because of how they are used as an emoji, but others might be notable due to what the emoji is representing.”
(Jeremy Burge)

Related words

emoticon, smiley, kaomoji

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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