These were the most popular emojis of 2021 according to the Unicode Consortium

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With the end of the year quickly approaching, the Unicode Consortium is out with a fun study today showing off the emojis that were used most throughout 2021. While the smiley/emotion category was the most popular overall, the new report breaks down nine different emoji categories by the most and least used.

Coming in with over 5% of all emojis used for the year was 😂 (Tears of Joy). The Unicode Consortium notes the only other emoji to get close to that was ❤️.

Here’s a look at the top 10 based on worldwide use: 😂 ❤️ 🤣 👍 😭 🙏 😘 🥰 😍 😊

92% of the world’s online population use emoji — but which emoji are we using? Well, it appears that reports of Tears of Joy’s death are greatly exaggerated 😂. According to data collected by the Unicode Consortium, the not-for-profit organization responsible for digitizing the world’s languages, Tears of Joy accounts for over 5% of all emoji use (the only other character that comes close is ❤️ and there is a steeeeeep cliff after that). The top ten emoji used worldwide are 😂 ❤️ 🤣 👍 😭 🙏 😘 🥰 😍 😊.

Related: Here’s a look at the new emoji that could come to iPhone this year [Update: Emoji 14.0 finalized]

Another interesting finding was the top 100 emoji made up about 82% of emoji used. When it came to other categories, Unicode says the most used emoji were ones that represent multiple concepts:

  • 🚀 Rocket Ship found in the Transport-air is symbolic of progress being made and anticipation of big changes.
  • 💪 Flexed Biceps is the top Body-parts emoji (this subcategory excludes hands) and is commonly used to indicate strength, success, overcoming a struggle, exercise, showing off, boasting, or rolling up your sleeve to receive a vaccine.
  • 💐 Bouquet of Plant-Flower for all occasions: congratulations, celebrations, and relationships of many varieties be they platonic or romantic. 
  • 🦋 Butterfly is the most common Animal emoji (found in the Animal-Bugsubcategory) representative of change, beauty, nature, and transformation.
  • 🤸 Person Doing Cartwheel may not be the most popular sport in the world but it is the most popular Person-Sport suggestive of happiness and joy. Editor’s Note: I’m fond of pairing it with a blackhole when disaster is looming 🤸🕳️

And what about the least used emoji?

The least popular category? Flags. The least popular subcategory? Country-flags. They represent the largest collection (258 emoji!), but are used the least. Animal-mammal are the next largest subcategory (53 emoji!). Given that new emoji have to demonstrate they are not overly specific and need to break new ground, this suggests animal emoji are at saturation level.

Unicode says this data helps it know where to focus as it works to add more emoji and also gave a reminder to those submitting proposals to read through the Unicode guidelines first.

You can find the full 2021 most used emoji study on Unicode’s website.

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