In an emotional first, an emoji has beaten the rest of the world to win the coveted Word of the Year 2015 award, given out by Oxford Dictionaries. Among millions of words, and hundreds of emojis themselves, the ‘Face of Tears of Joy’ (or ToJ, in short) came out triumphant, beating other (very relevant) entries in the final shortlist, like they (singular), refugee, Dark Web and shared economy.
This year, Oxford Dictionaries partnered with keyboard innovators SwiftKey to gauge usage statistics of emoticons, and ToJ came out on top, making up “20% of all the Emojis used in the UK in 2015, and 17% of those in the US: a sharp rise from 4% and 9% respectively in 2014.” The word ‘Emoji’ itself has seen a sharp rise in usage in recent times, and according to the data collated by Oxford Dictionaries Corpus, usage of this specific term has tripled over its usage in 2014, and is at the highest.
With the advent of easy messaging tools, Emojis have changed the way we speak and emote. Now, with emoticons representing sunrise, myriad facial expressions, heavy traffic and even edible items as pizzas and apples, awarding the most popular Emoji as the Word of the Year seems to be one of the best logical decisions ever taken. Soft keyboards are slowly incorporating predictions for Emojis, further highlighting their importance.
To define in the strictest terms, an Emoji is “a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion in electronic communication.” Evolving from its predecessor, emoticon, Emojis have brought expressions in text messages from a disjointed combination of symbols to graphic faces depicting reactions and emotions of a wide range.
The ToJ emoji faced competition from eight other entrants – sharing economy, they (singular), on fleek, ad blocker, refugee, Brexit, Dark Web and lumbersexual – each of which have been relevant in recent times. While the Dark Web refers to the encrypted sections of the World Wide Web, Brexit refers to the potential of United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.
While other entrants are focused around specific social issues, the face of Tears of Joy involves a wider mass of people, finding relevance in more than teenage conversations or dark-suited secret roundtables. Oxford Dictionaries seem to think likewise, having a hearty laugh at the evolution of ‘language’.