Category: Emoji

5 Emojis That Mean Totally Different Things To Different People

Emojis have become an effective form of communication, and you even see them used routinely in the business world. While some of us try to reel in our emoji use throughout the day, well over 90 percent of the world’s population uses them on a daily basis. 

Just because you use a particular emoji for your own personal meaning doesn’t mean that’s how others see it, though. Here are five emojis that you might want to think twice about using because they mean totally different things to different people.

Thumbs Up

For a lot of people, the thumbs up is the ultimate sign of approval. Instead of saying “got it” or “understood,” many will send the thumbs-up emoji as a sign that they understand what the person is saying and is on board. However, it turns out that this emoji is a harmless one for older generations while younger ones might see it as a backhanded way of communicating.

Apparently, members of Generation Z have deemed the thumbs-up emoji as one with passive-aggressive connotations. At least, that’s according to one major poll conducted by Emojipedia. Some members of Gen-Z also said that the emoji was seen as “low effort” while some even called it “hostile.” Older emoji users probably have no idea since the thumbs-up has always been a harmless gesture of support in their lives.


While the generation barrier for the thumbs-up emoji really only applies to the very young, it’s typically only the very elderly that aren’t quite sure about the second meaning of the eggplant emoji. When it was introduced in 2007, the eggplant emoji seemed rather harmless and was used very seldom. Maybe there were times when people talked about recipes, but there really weren’t many conversations where it was necessary.

Then, in the early 2010s, more people started to take notice of the emoji. Many felt that it had a much more ‘suggestive’ appearance and was introduced into more ‘adult’ conversations. Since then, the eggplant has been used almost exclusively in that capacity while some of the oldest emoji users innocently still use it to talk about food preparation.

Peace Sign

The peace sign has changed meaning a lot in recent years to the point where it doesn’t even mean peace anymore. Sure, there was a time when those who wanted nothing but love and tranquility in the world could comfortably use the peace sign without any other connotations, at least in the United States. Outside of the country, this symbol could be perceived as obscene, with places like Australia and Ireland essentially using it as the middle finger.

These days, most people use it to sarcastically say goodbye, and it’s even transferred into real life. When you get into a confrontation and want to be snarky when leaving, you throw up “the deuces” and walk away. This has been seen repeatedly in sports, and even made its way into the Super Bowl when wide receiver Tyreek Hill (who had it as a signature celebration when scoring) had it used against him.


Speaking of sports, the goat emoji means something very different to them than it does to non-sports fans. To those who spend their weekends watching their favorite teams, the goat emoji is an acronym, G.O.A.T., or Greatest of All Time. This has been used for athletes such as Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, and Lionel Messi. It can also be used for other professions, though sports are where you see it the most.

Then, there are plenty of people who simply love goats as animals, and who wouldn’t? Sure, they might have a unique look that some consider strange, but they’re fun animals who love to jump around, and watching them for hours can be a great way to pass time. Those who never watch sports probably don’t know its acronym status.

Information Desk Person

The Information Desk Person emoji is one of the most bizarre ones out there because people aren’t really sure what it’s supposed to mean. The emoji shows a person with their left hand extended upward with their palm facing up as if they’re serving a dish that simply isn’t there. The emoji, apparently, is supposed to be a person working at a help desk and silently inquiring “How can I help you?”

That’s not how many people have seen it, however. Instead, it has been used as a way of saying “I have no idea” or in a sarcastic way when you’re tired of someone’s actions. Ask anyone in the world who has used this emoji if they’ve ever done so with its intended meaning, and they’re likely going to say no.

5 Emojis That Can Cause Misunderstandings Across Generations and Cultures

You may be surprised to learn that emojis have been around since 1997 when they were first introduced on Japanese mobile phones, but it wasn’t until the early 2010s that they really started to take off in popularity. Since then, almost everyone with a mobile phone has used emojis at some point, though it seems like Generation Z is the final authority on each emoji.

As a result, each generation has its own interpretation of what emojis mean, and it has caused a lot of misunderstandings over the years. Certain emojis can be seen as lighthearted to some while passive-aggressive or downright mean to others. Let’s take a look at five emojis that are causing misunderstandings across generations and cultures around the world.

1. Thumbs Up

For some generations, the thumbs-up hand gesture is a symbol of something good or that you understand what someone said. Oftentimes, it’s used as a way of saying “got it” to someone. It’s short and sweet, and for the most part, nobody means anything negative behind it. Out of all of the emojis on smartphones, though, Generation Z has dubbed it as the most passive-aggressive of all.

What makes it so negative, though? Some of those that were polled said that they weren’t quite sure, but it seemed hostile and rude. Younger people that are entering the workforce for the first time and receiving instant messages from older bosses are saying that they have to train themselves to know that there’s no hostility behind the thumbs up.

2. Shrugging

The shrugging gesture is one of those things that certainly comes across better in person or over the phone than in an emoji. If there’s a question where you don’t know the answer, you can give a friendly “I’m not sure” or “let me check,” or even shrug your shoulders in person. That doesn’t quite translate in text, and the recipient might think you’re annoyed with them.

The emoji has been adopted as a sign of being passive-aggressive or sarcastic, especially on social media. For example, people will often use the shrugging emoji posted with a news article asking “Why aren’t people talking about this?” or “just saying.”

3. Upside-Down Smiley

On its surface, the upside-down smiling emoji is incredibly harmless. Everyone loves a cute smiley face and it looks downright silly when it’s upside-down. That’s not what it means to younger people, though. The emoji typically indicates sarcasm or frustration, with people often using it when they feel defeated.

However, older generations have their own use for the upside-down smiley. It’s typically used for someone that’s simply being goofy with their texts and means nothing negative in their message. If you receive one from an older person, you’re probably in the clear.

4. Checkmark

The checkmark emoji and the thumbs-up emoji tend to go hand in hand, with most people (especially in the working world) using it as a form of saying “understood.” The checkmark can be used in several different ways than the thumbs-up emoji, too. It can be used for personal checklists, and for the most part, it means that everything is good.

There are certain circles in which the checkmark can be seen as a form of passive aggression, though. Around 17 percent of people who were polled said the standard checkmark was passive-aggressive, while the version with the green background being the more universally accepted of the two.

5. OK Hand

The OK hand symbol is something that used to have almost no negative connotation, but has gone the way of the thumbs-up by being packed with sarcasm. Even worse, the OK symbol has been said to be used by certain ethnic groups in a less-than-savory way. With that in mind, it might be best to stay away from the OK hand if it’s someone that you don’t know.

The same can be said with any of these emojis, too. If you know the person that you’re sending them too on a personal basis, there’s really not much to worry about. When you’re using them with a stranger, though, always air on the side of caution.