Difference Between Emoji and Emoticon (With Table)

In the contemporary world, people have several ways to express emotions in digital messages. Emoji and emoticon are two of them. There are high chances that one who is using the Internet also read or even used emojis or emoticon.  

During the conversation, both the emoji and emoticon are used with each other in conduction, but they are quite different from each other. With the smartphone, the revolution took place in the world from then itself emoji are in use. The emoticon is there for some time now. 

Emoji vs Emoticon 

The main difference Emoji and Emoticon is that emojis are small graphical image which expresses emotions or ideas. On the other hand, emoticons are a representation of a face that is made from keyboard characters. Emoji is the emoticon’s advanced version, while emoticon is the precursors to modern emojis.  

A small enough image that can be inserted into the text and expresses an idea or emotion is known as emoji. They are most often used in text and email messages and are available in any electronic communication. Japan in 1999 was the first user to use emojis in the cell phone.  

An emoticon is made with the help of the keyboard characters (numbers, punctuation marks, letters), which represent human facial expressions. This word is a portmanteau that is made by combining two words emotion and icon. In the 1990s, with the advent of texting and emails, emoticons became popular. 

Comparison Table Between Emoji and Emoticon 

Parameters of ComparisonEmojiEmoticon
InterpretationIt is a small graphical image that expresses emotions or ideas.It is made from keyboard characters to represent a face.
InventedIn 1999In 1982
DerivedFrom JapeneseFrom English
Made of Pre-made faces Symbols
VersionEmoitcon’s advanced versionPrecursors to modern emojis

What is Emoji? 

Emojis are majorly applied in electronic messages. It can be described as a logogram, pictogram, smiley, or ideogram. Emoji’s primary function is to fill in emotional cues. Emojis are much like emoticons, but emoticons are a typographic approximation and emojis are pictures.  

Originally the word emoji was originated from Japanese search as e (picture) and moji (character). The word “emoji” in a strict sense refers to pictures that are represented as encoded characters. Often, it can be applied in extension to messaging stickers.  

As emoji is first launched in cell phones in Japan in 1999. Later in the 2010s, it became worldwide popular due to its accessibility in many mobile operating systems. In the contemporary world, it became a large part of popular culture around the world. In 2015, “Tears of Joy emoji” became the word of the year.  

By computer, emojis are treated as letters that belong to the non-western language, just like the way Chinese and Japanese characters are. If the software fails to support the character, then it will only display a blank space or placeholder icon. So, it is important for the software to explicitly support these characters. 

What is Emoticon? 

An emoticon is a representation of facial expression by using characters such as letters, punctuation marks, and numbers. It helps to express a person’s mood, reaction, or feelings. Emoticons are made up of two words such as emotion (or emote) and icon. They are majorly based on the faces of the cartoon but there are exceptions too.  

An emoticon is a noun that is a symbol and is used by people to communicate in digital communications. Mostly to form a smiley face, punctuation marks are used to form the mouth and eyes. To make it elaborate letters, numbers, and punctuation marks are added from the keyboard. 

In 1972, emoticons originated on the computer system of PLATO IV. In Western countries, they are generally written at a right angle to the text’s direction. In 1986, Japan arose a special kind of style namely kaomoji on ASCII NET. Katakana character set is utilized in it which helps to understand without tilting head.  

In the late 1990s, SMS and the Internet became popular as a result emoticon was also used widely in Internet forums, emails, and text messages. Emoticons in communication technology played a significant role. Various devices and applications provide stylized pictures without the usage of text punctuation.  

Main Differences Emoji and Emoticon 

  1. The word “emoji” is the blend of Japanese words such as e (picture) and moji (character). But “emoticon” is the blend of English words like emotion (or emote) and icon.  
  2. Anything can be included in emojis, from an image of the object to a whimsical ghost. On the flip side, emoticons are generally faces that represent human expressions.   
  3. Cellular phones generally give a limited set of emojis, but potentially there are a limitless set of pictorial symbols. On the other hand, emoticons are a limited set of icons.  
  4. Emojis are just like emoticons, but they are available in all kinds of genres such as animals, expressions, places end objects. Whereas emoticons are a set of ad-hoc symbols that are created using alphanumeric characters.  
  5. Emoji do not use keyboard characters (numbers, punctuation marks, and letters) to be get inserted in messages. But keyboard characters are used to make emoticons be get inserted in messages.  


So, it can be concluded that even emoji and emoticons are used with each other in conjunction but still, they are different from each other. They both play a vital role to express emotion on the digital communication platform. Everyone in this world with Internet access has used or read either emoji or emoticon.  

Emoji is a small graphical image that expresses emotions or ideas. While emoticon is made from keyboard characters to represent faces. “Emoji” is the blend of Japanese words such as e (picture) and moji (character). But “emoticon” is the blend of English words like emotion (or emote) and icon. Thus, they both are used in text messages for different purposes to express different emotions. 


  1. https://www.aaai.org/ocs/index.php/ICWSM/ICWSM16/paper/viewPaper/13167
  2. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/10949310050191809

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