PC Doctor October 17, 2022

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A cartoon tablet, laptop and smart phone to accompany the news item.

Dear PC Doctor:

I text with my kids and grandkids all the time. One of them took me aside recently in a private chat and let me know I’m using some emojis wrong. Yikes! I didn’t even know that was possible. Is there an emoji dictionary or guide to usage I can look at? Apparently, they’ve been having a good laugh at some of my gaffes.


Dear Grandad:

There’s no “official” or authoritative dictionary of emoji meanings. One good place to start for basic meanings is emojipedia.org.

However, if you’re comfortable with the internet, do a google search for “hidden meanings of emoji” and lots of options will appear. Some emoji are benign, some have very strong emotional meanings, and some, of course, have come to have sexual and drug meanings. There are also quite a few YouTube videos highlighting the most frequently misused emoji.

To make things more complicated, just as with spoken and written language, emoji meanings aren’t static: meanings change over time and how they’re interpreted can change depending on who is sending them and who is receiving them. Linguist Gretchen McCulloch has a whole chapter on the history and use of emoji in her recent book Because Internet.

I hope this helps!
Until next time,
Happy Computing!
PC Doctor

Editor's Note: Questions should be directed to PC Doctor, care of the Athol Public Library, info@athollibrary.org or Athol Public Library, 568 Main St., Athol, Mass. 01331, or dropped off at the library.