Celebrating World Emoji Day: Popular Emojis With Second Meanings

Throughout history, humans have always found ways to communicate via encrypted messages, and the modern-day version of these ancient runes is the emoji. Among younger generations, emojis are so popular that they have virtually replaced words in texts and social media posts, often to the consternation of parents desperately trying to figure out what encoded message they’re trying to send. And while some emoji meanings are simple, others have a secret double meaning that needs to be deciphered, and some are quite complicated.

For example, a recent University of Birmingham study found that a balloon followed by a comma and a teddy bear meant “I’m thinking of you but don’t have the words to say it.” (You have to wonder how on earth that became a thing.) Interestingly, that’s just one of many fascinating secondary emoji meanings.

So to help our Boomers learn the secret meaning behind some of the most popular emojis, here’s a dozen…


Goat Emoji

If you’re an old-head, you’d never guess this, but the goat stands for the acronym GOAT: Greatest of All Time. If you see this emoji in your social media feed, it means you’re being celebrated as the best in your field. Way to go.


Manicure Emoji

People often post this on someone’s Instagram page to indicate that they are “on fleek,” or, put colloquially, fabulous. It can also be sent in a text message to show that you are feeling as chill as a diva drying her nails, but its most popular use is as a response to indicate that you’re not bothered about something someone said about you.


Vector flame icon. Simple illustration of fire in flat style

Vector flame icon. Simple illustration of fire in flat style

Oh! You don’t need to call the firefighters.

This little flame indicates that someone or something is hot, or as the kids these days would say, “lit.”


Devil Emoji

It may not be the sexiest image, but this actually indicates that someone is in the mood to get frisky. If someone sends you this then you better get your game up; they are coming for you flirtatiously.

Clapping Hands

Clapping Hands emoji

One of the simpler emojis, it’s often used to applaud something someone says. But you’ll also often find it inserted in between every single word in a sentence, as a passive-aggressive way of emphasizing something that people can’t seem to get into their thick heads.


snake emoji

Beware if you see the snake, as it indicates that someone thinks you’re a duplicitous backstabber. If you are not familiar with the Bible, the snake depicts deceit. You should know this, granny. You are closer to the Bible times than the rest of us.

Women With Bunny Ears

Women With Bunny Ears

Some women send this to their friends to indicate they’re about to have a rocking girls’ night out, but given that they are modelled after Playboy bunnies, they can also be a code for sex workers.


eggplant emoji

Having a similar design as a cucumber – which is known for its sexual connotation – this is a stand-in for male genitalia and is often sent to illustrate the anticipation of sexy time. Don’t freak out now.


Syringe emojis

Don’t panic. As foreboding of an emoji as it may be, the syringe can stand for a tattoo needle and is often used on Instagram to celebrate getting new ink.

Alternatively, it could be used to yell “Inject it into my veins!” An expression young people say when they find content or agenda overly enjoyable.


Snow FLakes emojis

You might see this pop up during a Twitter argument when someone wants to call someone else a “snowflake”—a derogatory term to describe a young person who is easily offended and overly fragile compared to previous generations. Here’s one for you to dole out more often.


avocado emojis

Given the Millennial obsession with avocados, you’d think this would symbolise something good. But given the eye-roll-worthy enthrallment with this fruit, it’s often used to indicate someone is hopelessly “basic” and just does whatever is trendy at the moment.


Peach Emoji


Another fruit symbolising human anatomy, this peach emoji represents a derriere. The resemblance is stunning, isn’t it?

You can text your grandkids any of these emojis just to gauge their reactions. We’ve got your back.


About Author /

Self-identifies as a middle child between millennials and the gen Z, began writing as a 14 year-old. Born and raised in Lagos where he would go on to obtain a degree in the University of Lagos, he mainly draws inspiration from societal issues and the ills within. His "live and let live" mantra shapes his thought process as he writes about lifestyle from a place of empathy and emotional intelligence. When he is not writing, he is very invested in football and sociopolitical commentary on social media.

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