Emoticons (if you didn't know, an emoticon = emotion + icon, like, literally; for me it was new information) represent small images or icons which depict various emotions. Emoticons appeared as sequences of ASCII symbols for expressing joy :-) ะธะปะธ sadness :-(.

As a consequence, more complicated smiles had appeared. This emoticon (")(-_-)(") illustrates a face with their arms raised.

Time passed, and such sequences started to be replaced by images. In addition, there appeared ways to enter such pics by clicking on the icon in the menu section or pasting it from the clipboard.

The first people to implement these cute schemes were Japanese mobile operators. The majority of the symbols for this block were taken from their sets. In Unicode you can see that such emoticons are also divided in the following sets: human faces, cat's faces and icons with hand gestures.

More emoticons are encoded in the sections Miscellaneous symbols and Supplemental-symbols-and-pictographs.

Since you've read the description till this point, I'm going to share a secret with you. So far, people haven't quite figured out, how to differentiate between an emoticon and an emoji. Even I, the expert of the Emoji Studies, a person with a PhD in Cats and Dogs' faces semantics, even I haven't deciphered yet, what is the key difference between an emoticon and an emoji. I'll tell you what: whenever you see a printed version of a smile like this :), call it an emoticon. If there is a complete image/icon/picture like this ๐Ÿ˜› โ€” congrats, it's an emoji. You can copy it from this block, by the way.

Properties

Range 1F600–1F64F
Characters 80

List of Characters

Table of Characters

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