These Were the Most Popular Emojis of 2021

BY Chandraveer Mathur

Published 2 Dec 2021

Unicode Consortium Popular Emoji 2021

The Unicode Consortium has joined the flurry of this year’s roundups with an entertaining list of the most used emojis of 2021. The Consortium found that the smiley/emotion category was the most widely used. Its report breaks down the nine emoji categories into the most and least used.

Over 5 percent of all the emojis used this year were the 😂 (Tears of Joy), while the ❤️ (Heart) emoji was a distant second.

Here are the top 10 based on popularity: 😂 ❤️ 🤣 👍 😭 🙏 😘 🥰 😍 😊.

For comparison, 2019’s top 10 emojis based on popularity were: 😂 ❤️ 😍 🤣 😊 🙏 💕 😭 😘 👍

“2% of the world’s online population use emoji — but which emoji are we using? Well, it appears that reports of Tears of Joy’s death are greatly exaggerated 😂. According to data collected by the Unicode Consortium, the not-for-profit organization responsible for digitizing the world’s languages, Tears of Joy accounts for over 5% of all emoji use (the only other character that comes close is ❤️ and there is a steeeeeep cliff after that). The top ten emoji used worldwide are 😂 ❤️ 🤣 👍 😭 🙏 😘 🥰 😍 😊.”

The report also notes that the top 100 emojis comprised 82 percent of all the emojis used. The Consortium says that the most used emojis from other categories are the ones that represent multiple concepts:

  • 🚀 Rocket Ship symbolized progress and potential anticipation of significant changes. It can be found in the Transport-air category.
  • 💪 Flexed Biceps topped the charts as the most used emoji in the Body-parts category, excluding hands. It symbolizes strength, success, overcoming a struggle, exercise, showing off, boasting, or rolling up your sleeve to get vaccinated.
  • 💐 Bouquet of Plant-Flower found use due to its versatility on all occasions: congratulations, celebrations, and relationships of many varieties, whether platonic or romantic.
  • 🦋 Butterfly is the most common Animal emoji (found in the Animal-Bug subcategory) representing change, beauty, nature, and transformation.
  • 🤸 Person Doing Cartwheel is the most popular Person-Sport emoji suggestive of happiness and joy.

As for the least-used emoji category — you guessed it — Flags.

“The least popular category? Flags. The least popular subcategory? Country-flags. They represent the largest collection (258 emoji!) but are used the least. Animal-mammal is the next largest subcategory (53 emoji!). Given that new emojis have to demonstrate they are not overly specific and need to break new ground, this suggests animal emoji is at saturation level.”

Another interesting observation is that despite increased usage during the pandemic, only the emojis 🥵 and 🥴 managed to enter the top 100 in 2021. 😷 moved up from rank 186 to 156 while 🦠 made it into the top 500 by the skin of its teeth.

All this data is cool, but the Unicode Consortium explains that it collects the data to focus its efforts on the correct categories. The report also serves as a reminder to read Unicode’s guidelines for those interested in submitting proposals for new emojis.

Which was your most-used or favorite emoji this year? Drop it in the comments section below!

[Via Unicode Consortium]