They have forever changed the way we communicate but, except for the very straightforward ones, emojis are also loaded with innuendo and hidden meanings that are not always immediately discernible. These little metaphorical images have come to mean much more than meets the eye, often confusing especially those of us who didn’t grow up with a smartphone in our hands.

Leave it up to the internet to create the ultimate emoji reference tool, which now lists almost 3000 emojis, comprising all the emojis included in the Unicode Standard, which is the computing industry standard for text expressed in most of the world’s writing systems.

Created by Jeremy Burge in 2013, Emojipedia was born when Burge was looking for an online reference tool to search for the meaning behind some of the emoji on a new phone he had gotten. Rather than attributing a specific meaning to emoji when they are initially listed on Emojipedia after being approved by the Unicode Consortium (between 70 and 200 emoji are accepted by the Consortium each year), emoji are first listed with broad definitions, which are updated as users start assigning their own meaning to the characters.

A far cry from its humble beginnings, Emojipedia has now also enlisted the services of a lexicographer, who is in charge of writing definitions and researching how its meaning changes, based upon its use in the real world.

Emojis on Emojipedia are typically listed with a description, the date it was approved by the Unicode Consortium, together with a visual representation of how the emoji appears on different platforms. Users can also track the frequency of use of particular emoji and browse where it is used on the internet. The most popular emojis at any given time are listed at the bottom of the Emojipedia homepage.

Considered the “world’s number one resource on emoji”, Emojipedia is the definitive option when looking for the meaning behind these “small digital images or icons used to express an idea or emotion”. If you haven’t yet, perhaps now is a good time to reference your favourite emoji and make sure it means what you’re trying to convey.

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