The OED’s Word of the Year Is… an Emoji

On a scale from *dog poop* to *clapping hands*, how do you feel about this news?

byBen Keeshin|
The OED’s Word of the Year Is… an Emoji


Most linguists are interested in the ways and means by which people communicate, language as it is actually used. Case in point: Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year isn’t even, really, a word. It’s a pictograph named ‘Face with Tears of Joy,’ colloquially, the happy-cry emoji. Rock on, groovy linguists; comma policing is for the world’s editors.

According to the organization, this emoji of nuanced emotion “best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015.” That conclusion, though it sounds soft, was arrived at via a methodology more science than art. To locate their “word,” the OED partnered with mobile technology giant SwiftKey, and found that the happy-cry emoji accounted for 20 percent of all emoji sent, making it No. 1. It was a popular vote submitted by thumbs via a smartphone ballot.

In a time when even presidential candidates are soliciting opinions in pictograph-speak, the choice of an emoji as word of the year seems right. Especially considering that 2014’s word was vape, we give the OED two pairs of *praise hands* raised high. Maybe next year, racecar emoji. Maybe next year...