Difference between emoji, emoticon, pictograph

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .


Emoticon are characters made to resemble faces with smile or frown or other.

These are emoticons:

Emoticon is popular in 1990s and 2000s.


Emoji is picture version of extended emoticon. It was popularized in Japane mobile phone in 2000s.

Here are examples of emoji:

Faces 😃 😋 😍 😲

Japanese mobile community created far more varied such images, now including cat face 😸, food 🍣, clothing 👙 👗 , places 🏯 🗻, Japanese comics iconographs 💢 💤 💥 , etc.

and around 2015, food, places, clothing, expressions, of USA and other cultures are also created as emoji.

[see Unicode: Emoji 😄]

What is the Difference Between Emoji and Pictographs?

Pictographs are symbols, such as U+26E8 BLACK CROSS ON SHIELD, that are pictorial representations of objects, sometimes quite simplified.

The set of Unicode emoji intersects, but is not the same as the set of pictographs in the Unicode standard.

Some characters are both emoji and pictographs, such as 🌭 U+1F32D HOT DOG.

Some characters are emoji but not pictographs, such as U+203C DOUBLE EXCLAMATION MARK.

Some characters are not emoji but are pictographs, such as U+26E8 BLACK CROSS ON SHIELD.

2017-06-30 from http://unicode.org/faq/emoji_dingbats.html