The most popular emojis in 2016 and the meaning behind them

Smart keyboard app developer Kika Tech on Friday published a report on global emoji use. The report is based on big data collected from Kika’s users around the globe, with academic help from teams at Peking University and the University of Michigan.

The report lists the top-ranking emojis that are most frequently used. User preferences change according to time and culture.

The “laughing tears” emoji retains its crown

The “Laughing tears emoji”, with a sending proportion of 21.25%, was the most-used emoji in 2016 according to the report. In fact, this emoji was chosen as the “2015 word of the year” by the Oxford English Dictionary.

This emoji can mean different things, depending on the user and the context. A Weibo user commented that “this universal emoji can be applied to the following situations: when you laugh to the point of tears, when you are embarrassed, when you feel helpless and clueless, or when you feel like you just want to send an emoji.” No wonder it tops the list.

The “red heart” ranks the second, with a proportion of 7.89%, followed by the “heart eyes emoji” with a 7.78% sending frequency.

Other more popular emojis include the “face throwing a kiss” that has one eye open, the other eye winking, with a heart floating out of its kissing mouth, and the “loudly crying face” that has tears streaming down both cheeks.

The “laughing tears” emoji retains its crown in 2016. Chart from Kika.

Weekdays have work and study, weekends have roses and love hearts

According to the report, Kika users send emojis a total of over 31 million times every day. Founded in 2014, KiKa claimed that it has attracted 150 million users, with daily active users numbering 24 million people.

However, Monday sees emojis being used more often than on any other day of the week, with a total of nearly 37 million sent. Perhaps people are reluctant to text full words when they are staring in the face of another stressful work week, and turn to emojis instead.

On weekends, “rose” and “red heart” are the most-used emojis. This could indicate that more talking is going on between couples and couples-to-be on weekends, although you don’t need emoji use statistics to tell you that a Saturday is more romantic than a Thursday.

Geographic differences behind emojis

The hand sign “OK” as an emoji can often represent “it’s okay”, “I’m okay” or “that’s good”. However, this is not so if you’re chatting with someone from Brazil, where making an open circle with the index finger touching thumb is almost equivalent to giving a middle finger in America.

Other geographical differences of user preference also present themselves. For example, the French differ from users in other countries, as they use “red heart” even more often than using “laughing tears emoji”. “Monkey covering eyes emoji” is especially preferred by users from Spain, Mexico, and Columbia.

Social media platforms where emoji dominate

According to the report, the top five apps and social media platforms where emoji are most frequently used are Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram, Chrome, and Facebook.

Chrome is the only web browser among the top five, and Youtube, ranking 9th, is the only video-streaming platform among the top ten.

So far, it seems that users in general tend to use emoji that express positive feelings like love and joy. The ones expressing negative feelings are used especially less often in certain countries, including Spain, Italy, Australia, and Britain.

Kika Emoji Keyboard, applicable to both iOS and Android, is a keyboard app that provides services to more than 20 million users each day. It offers 1,600 emojis and emoticons and supports more than 70 languages.

(Top photo from

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