Oxford Dictionaries announces an emoji as 2015’s Word of the Year

The ‘face with tears of joy’ emoji—the most popular symbol used throughout the world—was chosen as the winner, but many argued that it isn’t a word.

Oxford Dictionaries announced its word of the year, which isn’t a word as we generally think of one—it’s an emoji.

At first glance, my reaction was that they should consult their own product to get the definition of “word.” So, I did.

Turns out, the definition “word” is fairly broad. Here’s the first of a few definitions:

A single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing, used with others (or sometimes alone) to form a sentence and typically shown with a space on either side when written or printed.

Does the “face with tears of joy” emoji fit any of these criteria? You can certainly argue that it does. Nothing says the word has to be comprised of letters.

The emoji wasn’t chosen randomly—there’s actually data to back the choice. Oxford Dictionaries explains in a post on its blog:

This year Oxford University Press have partnered with leading mobile technology business SwiftKey to explore frequency and usage statistics for some of the most popular emoji across the world, and was chosen because it was the most used emoji globally in 2015.

The study reported that the emoji netted 20 percent of all emojis used in the United Kingdom and 17 percent of those used in the United States.

The emoji’s popularity didn’t stop Twitter users from voicing amusement, displeasure and anger over Oxford Dictionaries’ selection:

Several users pointed out that Oxford Dictionaries’ crowning the “face with tears of joy” emoji as its word of the year is a PR stunt, starting another debate over the tactic’s success:

The “tears of joy” emoji beat out several contenders such as “on fleek,” “lumbersexual,” “ad blocker” and “Brexit,” as noted in Oxford Dictonaries’ infographic:

What do you think of the decision? Does selecting an emoji signal a death to language, or are you 😂?

Topics: PR


Ragan.com Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from Ragan.com directly in your inbox.