Surprise, surprise. The Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year for 2015 is not a word but a pictograph. It’s actually an emoji—the Face with Tears of Joy. For people who always use emoji in their messages, this is probably one of your favourites. I know because it is certainly mine. ???

Linguists may react to this decision but even ordinary geeks would ask why an emoji and not a real word. Well, Oxford University Press partnered with SwiftKey this year to determine usage statistics of mobile users from all the world. And as it turned out, the widely used emoji is the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ in the UK with 20% of all users and 17% in the US. Even the word ‘emoji’ was identified to be more frequently used now, tripling the number from last year.

emoji usage frequency 2014 to 2015

Emojis are widely used these days in communication to express an idea when words are not enough. Keyboard apps are integrating the set of emoticons or digital characters because millions of people use them in texting, instant messaging, social media sites, and for some, even emails. Instead of typing words to express a feeling, an emoji can be used which is oftentimes the best character or “word” to describe how one feels.

tears of joy emoji

The ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji may have been chosen because it shows different sorts of emotion–a combination of joy, sadness, confusion, or even frustration. Honestly, it’s my often used emoji. I use it whenever I am giddy about something or are feeling amused. How about you? What’s your favorite emoji?

VIA: Oxford Dictionaries