Nowadays, every one of us use emojis in the chat conversation. However, there are two words people use interchangeably – emoticons and emojis. For example, you can see “Emoticons” in the Skype personal app. When you click on the, you will see hundreds of animated emoji icons. This is a confusing way of using two different terms. Here we will explain the difference between emoticons and emojis.
Related: Alt code shortcuts for emoji symbols.
Emoticons is a word derived from emotion and icon. It indicates a facial or body expression or emotion presented in a text format. Emoticons are basically combination ASCII text character and you can think emoticon as a text emoji. For example, many of use still use the smiling face emoticon in a text format as :-). Japanese first started using emoticons in their cell phones and have different variations of text emojis like lenny faces and Kaomoji.
In general, most of the emoticons are text smileys in earlier days. However, later people started making many different expressions and human body parts as text emoticons.
Emoji is word derived from two Japanese words 絵 + 文字. The word 絵 indicates e = picture and 文字 indicates moji = written character. It means emojis are picture or pictorial characters represented in a colorful format. Unicode consortium standardize emoji symbols and assign a code point for character coding. This makes the emojis usable in all devices that uses Unicode character encoding (UTF-8). Currently, there are more than 1300 emoji symbols available under different categories like animals, faces, weather, etc.
Emoticons Vs Emojis
The confusion came when the pure text emoticons are converted into emojis. For example, the smiling face emoticon :-) will look like a smiling picture symbol on most of the online and offline application that uses Unicode character encoding. In fact, most of the applications like Word, Facebook Messenger will automatically convert the text emoticon to a corresponding emoji symbol.
With the evolving of Unicode standardization, more and more applications start supporting the conversion of ASCII text characters to pictorial emoji symbols. Remember, emojis are also still characters and not pictographs. Some applications may use animated emojis and emoji images instead of Unicode symbol. Also, Facebook, Twitter and many other applications use their own character coding to show the same emoji symbol in different ways.
Summary of Differences
Below table contains the summary of differences between emoticons and emojis:
|Text based characters||Pictorial characters|
|Generally facial and body expression||Covers different categories including face expressions|
|No standardization||Unicode standardization|
|Introduced in 1999||Unicode standard was introduced in 2010|
|First used in Japanese phones||First used in Japanese phones|
|No code point||Each emoji has single or combination of unique code point|
|All applications show same emoticon as text. However, some emoticons may be converted into emoji.||Display of emoji differs based on the character encoding used by the application.|
|No specific count||1300+ emojis are available as of Unicode version 12.0.|
|Anyone can create an emoticon.||Anyone can create, however general applications will support after adoption in Unicode release.|
|You can’t adapt emoticon character.||You can adopt or sponsor Unicode emoji characters.|
|Though categorization available, it is informal.||Formally categorized and classified into different Unicode emoji blocks.|
|No skin tones||Skin tones are available|
Popular Emoticons and Emoji Equivalents
Here is a list of popular emoticons and the equivalent emoji symbols.
|:-)||Slightly Smiling Face|
|Grinning Face with Smiling Eyes|
|:-P||Face with Struck Out Tongue|
|:-D||Smiling Face with Open Mouth|
|:-O||Face with Open Mouth|
|Smiling Face with Sunglass|
|Frowning or Angry Face|
|Smiling Devil Face with Horns|
|Smiling Face with Halo|