Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year Is an Emoji

November 17, 2015, 1:39 PM UTC
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY TUPAC POINTU A picture shows emoji characters also known as emoticons on the screens of two mobile phones in Paris on August 6, 2015. Forget traditional banners and promotional videos, brands are turning to emojis to communicate with their Generation Z target audience. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Miguel Medina—AFP/Getty Images

For the first time ever, the Oxford Dictionaries word of the year is not actually a word—it’s an emoji.

The “face with tears of joy” ( 😂 ) was the most frequently used emoji this year, and Oxford Dictionaries writes in a blog post that it was chosen as “the ‘word’ that best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015.”

The emoji depicting a face crying from laughter made up one in five of all of the emojis used in the U.K. this year, compared with one in 25 last year, according to Oxford. American texters fell behind only slightly, with face with tears of joy accounting for 17% of all emojis used, compared with 9% in 2014.

“Emojis are no longer the preserve of texting teens,” Oxford Dictionaries wrote in its post.” Instead, they have been embraced as a nuanced form of expression, and one which can cross language barriers.”

Last year, the Oxford Dictionaries word of choice was “vape” due to e-cigarettes’ boom in popularity.

The shortlist for this year’s word included actual words, like “sharing economy,” “refugee,” “dark web,” and “lumbersexual.”

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