This year in language can be summed up using the Face with Tears of Joy emoji, according to Oxford Dictionaries, which named the emoji as its Word of the Year.
The Word of the Year is typically awarded to a word or expression that reflects the passing year in language. While the emoji has been a staple part of messaging for some time, there has been an increase in usage and discussion this year.
Oxford Dictionaries said, “Emojis are no longer the preserve of texting teens. Instead, they have been embraced as a nuanced form of expression, and one which can cross language barriers.”
Oxford found that usage of the word “emoji” more than tripled in 2015 compared to 2014. Meanwhile, SwiftKey found that the Face with Tears of Joy emoji was the most popular emoji across the world. It comprised 17% of emoji used in the U.S. in 2015 and 20% of those in the U.K., up from 9% and 4%, respectively, last year.
This is the first time that a pictograph has been chosen as the Word of the Year. Other contenders this year included “on fleek” (Extremely good, attractive or stylish), and “lumbersexual” (A young urban man who cultivates an appearance and style of dress — typified by a beard and check shirt — suggestive of a rugged outdoor lifestyle).