How to know what an emoji means

What does this emoji mean? I’ve found myself asking this question several times because not all of them are always explicit. The emoji with two hands together, for example. Is it two people high-fiving each other? Or is it someone praying? As I said, it’s not always obvious.

If like me, you’re sometimes in doubt about what an emoji means, we’ve put together a few tips that will help you get an answer.

Many emojis on a white background

How to find out what an emoji means on your Mac

There are a couple of ways to find out the meaning of an emoji character on your Mac.

Using the Messages app

1) In the macOS Messages app, click the smiley face to bring up the emoji keyboard.

2) Scroll to the emoji whose meaning you want to know.

3) Hover your mouse over the emoji character, and after a couple of seconds, you should see a little popup with the description of that emoji.

Get the meaning of Emojis on Mac using the Messages app

Using Emoji & Symbols Character Viewer

1) Bring up the Character Viewer on your Mac. To do this, click Edit > Emoji & Symbols from the top menu bar in any macOS app. Alternatively, you can press Control + Command + Space bar.

2) If the emojis appear in a small window, click the tiny icon in the top right to expand it.

3) Select Emoji from the left sidebar.

4) Click the emoji you want to know the meaning of. Instantly, you will see the translation of that emoji on the right-hand side.

What does this emoji symbol mean

Related: How to access the Mac emojis and symbols keyboard from the menu bar

How to find out what an emoji means on your iPhone or iPad

Unlike the Mac, it isn’t very straightforward to know the meaning of an emoji character on your iPhone or iPad. But it’s doable. Here are two ways to find out the real name of an emoji in iOS and iPadOS.

Using Speak Selection

Thanks to an accessibility feature, you can have your phone speak out the definition, the actual name, or the meaning of any emoji. Here’s how to do that:

1) On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, go to Settings > Accessibility > Spoken Content, and turn on Speak Selection.

2) Create a new email, message, or note, and insert the emoji character whose definition you want.

3) Double tap to quickly select the emoji and tap Speak from the black menu strip. iPhone will speak the meaning of that emoji.

Meaning of Emoji spoken on iPhone

Using an emoji dictionary app

The App Store has all kinds of apps, including some that tell you the meaning or full name of emojis. One such app is Emoji Meanings Dictionary List, which is available for free. Download the app and browse for your favorite emoji to get their meaning.

Emoji Meanings Dictionary List iPhone

Learn more about emoji characters with Emojipedia

Emojipedia is to emoji characters what Wikipedia is to global knowledge. The website catalogs every emoji available and shares more details about each of them. You can access it on your computer or phone.

Most of the time, when you select an emoji on iPhone > Look Up > Search Web, the initial web search results will be from Emojipedia, telling you the full name of that emoji.

Emojipedia is the ultimate reference for emoji symbols, but it could be a little overkill if all you’re looking for is a quick definition of an emoji.

Emojipedia search

Do you know other ways to get the meaning of a specific emoji? If so, make sure to let us know in the comments section below.

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