There are so many emojis these days that it takes a full 20 minutes to decide on the best one to use, and in what combo. Which of the ten train emojis* should you pick when you’re about to embark on a long journey? Is it better to use the rainbow emoji or one of every heart colour to demonstrate the multi-hued excitement you feel for the party tonight?

And things are only going to get more hectic, as Apple introduce the animated emojis, or Animojis, of the iPhone X.

Navigating through the nuances of emoji meaning is an exhausting and hilariously-millennial problem. So, to help us all out, we’re celebrating World Smile Day by actually defining how people use the smiling emojis. Get ready for some home truths, people.

*yeah there are actually ten train emojis

😀 – ‘Grinning Face’

Despite being quite a basic looking emoji, this isn’t exactly a well-used smile. We think it’s because the wide-eyes connote a sort of unhealthy fascination, a frenzied happiness. Like the situation that elicited the smile was not wholesome. Nothing good could have been suggested if this emoji was the response.

How to use it: “Did you just say let’s get two pizzas each? 😀 O M G Y E S”

😂 – ‘Face With Tears Of Joy’

Um. Since when was crying-laughing-face called ‘face with tears of joy’? Tears of joy only applies to emotional film endings, exam results not going as badly as you thought, and free pizza. This emoji was actually Oxford Dictionary’s ‘Word of the Year 2015’ because, yeah, it’s the most overused emoji of all time. Only ever seen in groups of minimum of three or four. The more 😂’s you see, the less likely it is that the person laughed out loud.

How to use it: “OMG that gif I can’t even 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 literally pmsl best thing i’ve ever seen in my life”

😃 – ‘Smiling Face With Open Mouth’

Maybe it’s because this emoji looks like the original ’90s smiley face, but there’s something almost creepy about it. This is the OG of emojis, but it’s not really used very often. Our theory is that no one is this blankly happy. The choice of so many more nuanced smiles begs the question – why would you choose this one? However, the retro vibes mean that there’s a good chance it’ll make a significant comeback. Watch this space: we reckon old matey here 😃 will end up very in vogue.

How to use it: “Remember the smiley face badge in Watchmen? Didn’t it look kinda like this: 😃?”

😄 – ‘Grinning Face With Squinting Eyes’

This is the most physically accurate portrayal of someone laughing. So, not sure why they’ve called it grinning. But yeah, if someone uses this, they might actually maybe have lolled. For real. IRL.

How to use it: “Ok that was actually legit funny. 😄”

😅 – ‘Smiling Face With Open Mouth & Cold Sweat’

Not just regular sweat, guys. Cold sweat. What the heck is this. This is a smile of real fear. It’s the kind of emoji you send a murderer when they threaten to kill you. This is not just a fake smile, this is a smile to protect you from grievous bodily or mental harm.

How to use it: “Haha what do you mean you’re gonna come get me. Pls don’t 😅”

😉 – ‘Winking Face’

This is the Ronseal of emojis. It does exactly what you’d expect it to, which is basically to be a bit naughty. It’s the pictorial equivalent of ‘JUST KIDDING!’ or ‘HEHEHE I’M MAKING FUN OF YOU’. Also it’s a bona fide classic.

How to use it: “Saw you booked in a 6pm meeting with the new hottie, I wonder what you have planned hehe 😉”

😆 – ‘Smiling Face With Open Mouth & Closed Eyes’

Is this…is this the update of the age-old ’00s text sign off XD? It very well might be. To be honest though, you only use this if you’re laughing at something really dumb. Like, against your better judgement. You know. If someone sends you a particularly well-timed poo emoji. Or a gif of someone falling over.


😊 – ‘Smiling Face with Smiling Eyes’

Nawwhhhh. This is adorable, isn’t it? The beaming benevolence of this emoji is usually used in a very specific situation, namely when you’ve done something nice for someone else. You’re kinda showcasing how much of a sweetie you are by sharing good news.

How to use it: “I know you’re having a rubbish day so I’ve hidden nine types of chocolate in your bag 😊”

☺ – ‘Smiling Face’

It’s very easy to get confused between the super simple ‘Smiling Face ☺’ and ‘Smiling Face With Smiling Eyes 😊.’ They are v similar. Except that this one just looks a little more bashful. Something about the eyebrows and the cushy cheeks of this little cutie makes this one feel more embarrassed, like you’re reacting to a compliment, or feeling shy.

How to use it: “I can’t believe you called me bae, you’re my bae too. Luv u 4eva ☺”

😎 – ‘Smiling Face With Sunglasses’

Despite some rumours flying around, this emoji has nothing to do with protecting your eyes from UV rays. It simply demonstrates one thing: that you’re a legend.

How to use it: “Just watched Netflix for 19 hours in a row without using any data. Casual. 😎”

🙂 – ‘Slightly Smiling Face’

Hahahahaha. We still can’t get over the fact that Unicode decided that there needed to be some representation for people who were happy, but not that happy. Regardless of the name, this emoji is actually kinda classy. And probably more like how you actually smile IRL than all the other open-throat hysterical ones. Despite that, it’s the kind of emoji you send to your other half when you’ve had a huge fight and you’re not over it yet.

How to use it: “I’m fine. 🙂”

😏 – ‘Smirking Face’

Could this emoji BE any more brilliant? The whole thing is about subtext. If you see this emoji then you gotta re-read the sentence before it and question how real it is. It’s 33% sarcasm, 33% sultriness and 33% silliness. The perfect response for everything, it can be “I don’t mind if I dooooo” or “I see what you did there.” or “Well well well!” or a million other things.

It can even be used to add a not-so-subtle tone of smugness – perfect for holiday spamming your mates from a Go Roam destination.

10/10 best emoji of all time.

How to use it: “Yeah come over later we’re gonna work and definitely not game. 😏 Yep. 😏😏😏.”

😌 – ‘Relieved Face’

Cool, so this has never been used to connote relief ever, in the history of time. This face is more about being smug. It’s a self-satisfied little grin, because you know you’ve done a good thing. Probably the emoji that makes people eye-roll the most, but it’s fun to use.

How to use it: “No thanks I’ve brought lunch in today – salad and fruit 😌! Enjoy your pizza though.”

🙃 – ‘Upside-down Face’

It’s not clear what the purpose of this emoji was meant to be, but we know exactly how people use it. Either it’s used in lieu of a shrugging emoji – kinda like ‘whaddayagonnado!’ but in a small, round, yellow face. Or…(and this is our fav) it’s the most passive aggressive smiley you can use. Perfect for adding a pretence of politeness to angry requests.

How to use it: “Hey can you keep the noise down – all that techno is scaring the cat. Thanks. 🙃”

😬 – ‘Grimacing Face’

If you use this face, you know you’ve done something wrong. It’s the terrified, guilty smile of someone who is desperately pleading for forgiveness, while still trying to keep the atmosphere light. Does it diffuse tension? Yes. Why? Because it’s a funny emoji and it’s difficult to be angry at someone when they send you a blob that so expertly screams “I’M SORRY – DON’T HATE ME”

How to use it: “There is a very small chance that I may have accidentally deleted all your Spotify playlists 😬. Love you?”