The Brief: To celebrate World Emoji Day, we've collected and defined some of the most culturally significant emoji of 2020 so far.


World Emoji Day 2020 ๐Ÿ“…

World Emoji Day falls on July 17, the day that most emoji platforms show on their calendar emoji. For World Emoji Day 2020, we’ve reviewed the significance that emoji have played this year in messaging, memes, and internet culture. Here are some of the most culturally significant emoji with nuanced meanings and usages that go beyond their most straightforward definitions.

Face Mask ๐Ÿ˜ท

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the face mask emoji has surged in popularity as a popular way to talk about the virus. It’s also the perfect spokes-emoji to remind people to wear masks and face coverings when in public.

Virus ๐Ÿฆ 

The microbe emoji has become shorthand for Coronavirus. Until we have an effective and well-distributed vaccine, it’s here to stay ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ.

Raised Fist โœŠ๐ŸฟโœŠ๐ŸพโœŠ๐Ÿฝ

The Black power fist has long been used in protest, organizing, and anti-racist efforts and the raised fist emoji can act as a digital representation of the symbol.ย As protests and uprisings calling for racial justice and an end to police brutality erupted around the world after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police, the raised fist emoji served as a way for people to show solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement online.

Snake ๐Ÿ

A popular way to call someone out for being sneaky, a liar, or otherwise snake-like, the ๐Ÿ emoji was at the center of controversy when some Bernie Sanders supporters trolled Elizabeth Warren’s social media with it to call her a snake for comments she’d made. Historically, the snake emoji is popular among anti-Swifties in the feud between Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian.

Eye+ Mouth ๐Ÿ‘๏ธ๐Ÿ‘„๐Ÿ‘๏ธ

This emoji combo is what it is. On TikTok, it’s a popular comment to demonstrate someone staring or lurking with a strange expression. It’s also what people use on Retail TikTok to anthropomorphize brands and retail stores. ๐Ÿ‘๏ธ๐Ÿ‘„๐Ÿ‘๏ธ and the phrase “it is what it is” stirred up buzz on Twitter when some members of Design Twitter posted elusive messages about it and promoted an app that turned out to be a call for donations to anti-racist organizations.

Simp Face ๐Ÿฅบ

Simp and simping have been big slang terms this year, and they even have their own emoji. Formally known as the “pleading face” emoji, ๐Ÿฅบ has been widely associated with simps (and bottoms).

Fingers Pointed Together ๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿ‘ˆ

Sometimes paired with the simp emoji, the fingers pointed together emoji combo is associated with shyness and meekness. The gesture was at the center of the “but I’m shy” TikTok trend and has a spinoff known as the “confident” emoji: ๐Ÿ‘ˆ๐Ÿ‘‰.

Honorable Mentions

We have emoji mashup bots to thank for sharing remixed emoji that can be completely bizarre and/or the perfect way to express niche emotions:

Among the emoji in the latest Unicode launch, the trans flag is an important and long-anticipated addition. The pinched fingers emoji has also gotten a lot of attention for its many possible interpretations.

TikTokers are creating new meanings for emoji including the fairy emoji ๐Ÿงš, which is often paired with backhanded compliments. Here are some emoji that represent the turmoil-filled year 2020 has been so far: grimace ๐Ÿ˜ฌ, upside-down smiley ๐Ÿ™ƒ, chart decreasing ๐Ÿ“‰, soap ๐Ÿงผ, trash ๐Ÿ—‘๏ธ, poop ๐Ÿ’ฉ, exploding head ๐Ÿคฏ, loudly crying ๐Ÿ˜ญ, roller coaster ๐ŸŽข, facepalm ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™‚๏ธ, person at computer (aka work from home) ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป, skull and crossbones โ˜ ๏ธ, fast reverse button โช, fire ๐Ÿ”ฅ, clown ๐Ÿคก, and vomit face ๐Ÿคฎ. Many of these were included in Emojipedia’s award bracket for “the most 2020 emoji.”