Emoji slang – decoding the hidden digital language of today’s teens!

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Carolanne Bamford-Beattie


Parents guide to emoji slang

Have you ever received a text from your teenager that left you scratching your head? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Emojis – those colorful characters that cover everything from emotions to household items are being used to creatively communicate hidden messages and meanings. 

If you’ve noticed your child is using emoji-slang to text their friends, or you’re concerned that they might be having conversations they shouldn’t, don’t worry! We’ve been busy translating. What follows is the virtual Rosetta Stone of emoji-slang – the ultimate tool to decode this modern method of communication. Read on for more! 

General slang and teenage-speak

💯 One-hundred – or 100%
This is used to show admiration or total agreement with a person or point they’re making. 

🥑 Avocado
A modern food staple, the avocado’s popularity has soared in recent years, which may describe why teens are using it to mean ‘basic’ – or something that’s so trendy that it’s not cool anymore.

🐐 Goat – an acronym meaning “Greatest of all time.”
Used most commonly when referring to sporting or entertainment heroes. 

🐍 Snake
Used when describing someone with a sneaky or slippery character. The emoji found popular culture fame when used by Kim Kardashian to describe rival, Taylor Swift. 

🐙 Octopus
With its 8 appendages, the octopus emoji is used as slang for cuddles or a virtual hug.

🍕 Pizza
In plainspeak, it’s a slice of pizza, but in emoji-speak, it can be used from time to time to mean ‘I love you’ – sweet, not savory. 

🔥 Fire
With multiple meanings, ‘fire’ can be used to describe something that’s very good, but it can also mean ‘lit’ – slang for a party atmosphere. The fire emoji is also used to describe when someone is looking hot or sexy.

❄️ Snowflake
The negative term for younger people (typically gen-z) who are seen to have an overly sensitive view on life. But, watch out for context – it can also be used to mean cocaine. 

👉👈 Fingers pointing to each other

For reasons unknown to anyone over the age of 25, this emoji combination means ‘feeling shy’.

✍️ Hand with a pencil

Taking notes. But not really in a scholastic way, more of sharing advice or tips with a peer. 

🔪 Kitchen Knife
On the macabre side, the knife emoji can be used to show that the sender is in a bad mood, or the mood to be destructive. 

💅 Painting nails
You’d think this means going to the salon, right? Wrong! The painting nails emoji is used to express a carefree or ambivalent attitude to something that’s happening. 

👯‍♀️ Two girls with bunny ears
In its most innocent form, this emoji typically means two friends looking forward to a night out. The darker side to this emoji is that can be used to mean ‘sex worker. 

💁‍♀️ Woman with hand out
This can be used to show confusion or a sassy ‘I don’t know, and I don’t really care’ attitude. 

👏 Clapping Hands
This one depends on the way it’s used. If you see it posted between every word in a sentence, it’s supposed to create a passive-aggressive way of putting a point across.

🚾 Water closet sign
When used in emoji speak, the WC symbol means ‘woman crush’.

🎣 Fishing pole
Used to mean bait, or fishing for something – usually compliments 

🧢 Baseball cap
Used to flag that someone is telling a lie.

💀 Skull
Meaning ‘dead’, which, in this context it means something ‘dead funny’.

🤡 Clown
Watch out for this one if you’re worried about cyberbullying. The clown emoji can be used to describe someone in a negative way as if they’re embarrassing or foolish.

🧚‍♀️✨ Tinkerbell and sparkles
While this one looks super-innocent, it actually denotes a sarcastic, mean-spirited tone  so one to watch if you’re worried about bullying. 

👻 Ghost

Not just for Halloween, the ghost emoji can be used to represent blanking or ignoring someone after dating them, commonly known as ‘ghosting’. 

Sexually suggestive and innuendo emoji-slang

🍆🎤🍇🎪🍌 Aubergine, microphone, grapes, circus tent and banana

All of the above (and any emoji symbol that is remotely phallic) can be used to symbolize male genitalia. Check the context to be sure that it’s being used suggestively. 

😈 Smiling Face With Horns
A  signal that the sender is suggesting sexual behavior or talking about it. 

🍑 Peach
Keeping on with the food theme, the peach is most commonly used to represent a person’s behind.

💦 Sweat Droplets
This one is particularly crude and can be used to symbolize both an orgasm and/or sexual acts. 

👀 Eyes

The wide eyed emoji can be used to request nude or inappropriate pictures. 

🍒🍈 Cherries and melons
Any and all round fruits can be used to symbolize breasts. Cherries may also be used to represent virginity. 

📬👅🐫 Open mailbox, tongue out and camel (humps/humping…)
All of these cryptic emojis can all be used to refer to having sex. 

😵 Dizzy Face 

Seeing something x-rated, typically used in exchanges of nude pictures .

🙆‍♀️ Woman with raised arms
Sometimes used to symbolize a woman’s orgasm. 

Like the phrase ‘hourglass figure’, this one can be used to refer to a woman’s body shape.

🎞️ Camera film
Used as a request for an x-rated movie.

🖥️ Computer screen
Used for asking to have an x-rated chat. 

📸 Camera with the flash on
Used to symbolize flashing or taking sexting to the next level with nude pictures.

🌶️ Chili or hot pepper
Meaning ‘spicy’ and used to mark out inappropriate or risky content.

🌽 Corn
It rhymes with Porn and is used to mean exactly that. One that has sprung from how users get around TikTok’s inappropriate content rules. 

Drugs, drinking and partying symbols in emoji-slang

⛽🌿🌳🥦🍀✔️🍁 Fuel or Gas Pump, leaf, tree, broccoli, four-leaf clover, checkmark and maple leaf
These symbols can all be used as code for marijuana.

🔌 Electric Plug
Used to represent a drug dealer, this one has a history lesson. The word ‘plug’ was used in the 1930s to mean dealer too as they ‘connect things’. 

💨 Trail of smoke
This has a couple of meanings. It can represent smoking or vaping, or exiting somewhere so fast you leave a trail.

🏩 Love Hotel
A code for a sex worker’s premise or brothel. 

💉 Syringe

Is used commonly to say someone is getting or has got a tattoo, but can also be used to talk about drugs. 

💊 Pill
Talking about drugs, this is reportedly used by dealers to denote that they have heroin available. 

😤 Face with steaming nose
This one can also be used by drug dealers to  symbolize MDMA. In its most innocent format, it depicts anger. 

🚀 Rocket
A symbol of power and potency, the rocket emoji can be used to describe the effects of drugs and drinking alcohol. 

🤤 Drooling Face

 This one can be used to represent the way people might behave after taking Ecstasy, or ‘Molly’.

💃 Woman Dancing
Representing the urge to have a big party – most likely with drinks and dancing.

We hope that we’ve shed some light on the emoji-slang conversations today’s teens are regularly using. If you have one we’ve missed, let us know!