Difference between Emoticon and Emoji with example

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Millennials, the elderly, or teenagers – all know the language of emojis. We have been communicating with them on messages, emails, social media, comments section, etc. Since keyboards and full-screen phones. You can range your conversation for different emojis. It is also useful when you have to fill the gap between conversations.

Many people say emoticons, some say emojis, while for some, they are smileys. It is actually a complex situation. People get confused as to what to call them, so I have explained every concept in detail. Scroll below and find out what they mean.

What is an emoticon??

Keep in mind that emoticons and emojis are like chalk and cheese. Some forums on the internet will convince you otherwise, but rest assured, these two terms can’t be used as synonyms. Even BBC and New York Times have used them mutually, but even they were wrong to do so.


Basically, emoticons – like emojis – add some sparkle to your conversation. But, they are sequences of symbols that you see on your keyboard. The combination includes symbols, punctuation marks, letters, and the likes. As for emojis, they are explained in detail in the next segment.

What is an Emoji?

The one-sentence meaning of emojis is that they are pictures. Created by a Japanese communications firm NTT DoCoMo in the late 90s, emojis were coined by amalgamating ‘e’ – picture and ‘moji’ – character, letter – which means pictograph. It could be a picture of anything – a theatre ticket, cigarette butt, or an animal walking. Emojis are limitless, unlike emoticons.


Manufacturers release new emojis annually, which are simple improvements over the last year’s counterparts. Numerous emojis have identical codes in Unicode. Social media platforms, messengers, and browsers read the code and display the graphic that resembles it.

Moreover, Distinct software can have somewhat different graphics. When you open emojis on a Samsung phone, they will differ from those you see on an iPhone. For instance, the smiley emoji looks different on Google, Twitter, Apple, and even WhatsApp.

Difference between Emoticon and Emoji

As I have mentioned in the aforementioned paragraph, emojis are pictorial representations of almost everything. Be it a rainbow (🌈) or a red heart (❤️). Emoticons are symbols on your keyboard -:)

Difference between Emoticon and Emoji

I’ll explain both with a bit of Pokemon reference. Emoji is an evolved form of emoticons. Emoticons were used before the Blackberry era; on the Nokia phones. The pictographs that we highly use on WhatsApp, FaceBook, or iMessage are emojis. Emoticons were used when nothing but mere SMSs ruled our conversations, and emojis are its extensions handled by Unicode.

But, the matter doesn’t end here. You see, there are certain emojis that are also emoticons. The criterion for the characters splits them apart into sets by theme. Most are filed under ‘Miscellaneous Symbols and Pictographs,’ but the emoji representing emotive faces are classified as ’emoticons.’

What in the world is a Smiley?

Yes, adding ‘smiley’ to the mix opens a pandora’s box, but I thought I’ll mention it here. It was originally designed in 1963, and since then, it has created waves. The day emotions entered our life (read smartphones!), we started calling emoticons smiley. Yahoo Messenger, ICQ, Hangouts, Orkut, etc., breathed life into smileys, making them animated.

What in the world is a Smiley

So, what exactly is a smiley? A smiley is a graphic depiction of a smiling face; the form doesn’t matter. The original emoticon 🙂 can be called a smiley, so does many emojis that are yellow and are smiling. That means an emoticon (:D) and an emoji (😃) can be referred to as smileys – because they are smiling 😉


Which is an example of emoticon use?

Emoticons have a sideways facial expression that is created using keyboard symbols that symbolize a facial expression. An example of an emoticon is a smiling face made by typing a colon and parenthesis – :).

Is an emoji an icon?

No, emoji isn’t an icon. Icons are an image, picture, symbol, or other representation, usually an object of religious devotion. Emojis, on the other hand, are any patterned ideogrammatic icons used in digital communication.

What is an emoticon?

Emoticons are letters, punctuation marks, and numbers used to create graphic icons to display emotion or sentiment.

What is the first emoticon ever used?

Carnegie Mellon professor Dr. Scott Fahlman invented smiley’s first emoticon on September 19, 1982.

Who invented smileys?

Harvey Ross Ball is the known creator of smileys. He was told to make a morale-boosting icon for its employees when he created a yellow-and-black smiley face with a wide, dimpled grin. Unfortunately, he was paid only $45 for the original design.


So, this is the difference between emoticon and emoji. The thing is, it doesn’t matter what you call them. You’ve just got to use them appropriately. You should mean what you are using. There are several emojis to choose from, or you can generate a suitable emoji response faster.

I am an ambivert, an avid reader, a movie buff, a tea connoisseur, and a staunch fan of Priyanka Chopra Jonas. I like to give my insights through words, which come naturally to me. They also help me to express the myriads of emotions I go through. When not working, I'm either watching the latest tech videos or flipping through pages.