Sunday, November 21, 2021

The Names of Common Emojis in Italian

Twenty popular emojis with English and Italian descriptions


A text message arrived one day driving from Bergamo to Cuneo. We asked for the message to be read out loud which included emojis in the message. One of the emojis read was ridere a crepapelle for "rolling on the floor laughing" ๐Ÿคฃ, which had us rolling on the floor. We had never heard the name of it before. That experience got us interested in learning more about emojis, specifically their names in Italian and English.

You probably use emojis all the time but don't know what their real names are or, maybe, you have invented your own names. We were surprised at some of the names of common emojis and realized we had probably been using them all wrong.

What is an emoji?

What is the correct word to use, "emoticon" or "emoji"? It depends. In this post we talk about emojis. Emojis are pictorial symbols used inline with text, in electronic messages and web pages. The primary function of emojis are to fill in emotional cues otherwise missing from typed conversation. Emoticons are technically punctuation marks, numbers, and letters, used in a similar way to emojis. In short, emojis are pictorial not typographical. Originally meaning pictograph, the word emoji comes from Japanese e (็ตต, 'picture') + moji (ๆ–‡ๅญ—, 'character').

The design of the emojis looks different depending on the platform you are using them on. In this video on how emojis are created, you get a sense of the process of how emojis are created and approved. Emoji submissions are open to anyone. For more information, see How Are New Emoji Selected.

The Unicode Consortium sets the standard of how text is represented and displayed in software, which includes emojis. The Unicode Standard includes over 3,600 emojis. Unicode CLDR (Common Locale Data Repository) is the repository of locale data (of the consortium) and is a form consumable for use in applications. To use emojis, you don't need to worry any of this, but there are some interesting tips that come out of these resources.
  • Tip 1: Say you wanted to look up to see what keywords in English or Italian you could use to find an emoji, you can use the Unicode CLDR GitHub repo. For example, when you are in WhatsApp and you call up cerca emoji or "search for emojis", how do you know what to type? With the resources in GitHub (English or Italian), you can see the words to type to quickly find the emoji you are looking for. An Italian friend sends us the ๐Ÿ™Œ emoji a lot and we didn't know really what it means. Looking in the it.xml file in GitHub, you can see the keywords used for this emoji are evviva, mani, mani alzate, urrร , and vittoria. The emoji is called "raising hands" or mani alzate. You can also find this information in the Survey Tool described below.
  • Tip 2: The site has a convenient list of the Italian names of emojis that correspond to the Unicode names.
  • Tip 3: The full emoji list in English can be found on Emoji Charts. From this chart, you can quickly see how emojis are rendered on different platforms.
  • Tip 4: To see all the locales (translations) for an emoji, you can make use of the CLDR Charts, select By-Type. Characters: Smileys & Emotion and Characters: People & Body which contain the common emojis. For example, open Smileys & Emotion, search for "rolling on the floor laughing" to see the Italian locale (IT) translation as ridere a crepapelle.
So why did we bring up the Unicode Consortium in the first place? Because there is a consortium process that determines how emojis get their localized (translated) names. The process involves translation proposals and resolutions using the Survey Tool. You can look at the tool in read only mode by clicking the tool link in the Survey Tool Accounts page. In the tool, search for Italian, select Characters. You can see that member organizations (or representatives from them) propose and vote on names. This is our best guess at how the names come about…if you ever wondered like we did. These are proposed names for the emojis that most platforms/software use as is without modification.

Survey Tool - Italian LocaleSurvey Tool - Italian Locale Character - Smileys & Emotion - rolling on the floor laughingSurvey Tool - Italian Locale Character - Smileys & Emotion - smiling face with heartsSearching for emojis in Whatsapp
Screenshots of survey tool with Italian locale and searching for emojis in WhatsApp.

The names of common emojis in Italian

To select some emojis to find translations for, we decided to try to focus on the most popular. But how to determine that? We looked at several sources to pick our final list of 20: The Most Popular Emojis, Emoji Statistics on Emojipedia, Unicode Consortium Emoji Frequency, and Top-50 Emoji.

The following legend is used in the list below:

  • Emojiterra emoji names correspond to Unicode (U) names.
  • iPhone (IOS) – as read by selecting the emoji in WhatsApp and reading it.
  • Emojiguide (EG) – can have alternative names for emojis; gives interpretation (in English) of usage.

๐Ÿ˜‚ Face with tears of joy, U+1F602
  • IOS/U: Faccina con lacrime di gioia
  • EG: Faccina con lacrime di felicitร 
๐Ÿ˜ญ Loudly crying face, U+1F62D
  • U: Faccina disperata
  • IOS: Faccina che piange disperata
  • EG: Faccina che piange urlando
๐Ÿฅบ Pleading face, U+1F97A
  • U: Faccina supplichevole
  • IOS: Faccina con l'espressione supplicante
  • EG: Faccina supplicante
❤️ Red heart, U+2764
  • IOS/EG/U: Cuore rosso
๐Ÿคฃ Rolling on the floor laughing, U+1F923
  • U: Ridere a crepapelle
  • IOS: Faccina che ride a crepapelle
  • EG: Faccina ROFL
✨ Sparkles, U+2728
  • U: Stelline
  • EG/IOS: Scintille
๐Ÿ˜ Smiling face with heart-eyes, U+1F60D
  • U: Faccina con sorriso e occhi a cuore
  • EG: Faccina con occhi a cuore
  • IOS: Faccina con gli occhi a forma di cuore
๐Ÿ™ Folded hands, U+1F64F
  • EG/IOS/U: Mani giunte
๐Ÿฅฐ Smiling face with hearts, U+1F970
  • EG/IOS: Faccina sorridente con cuori
  • U: Faccina con cuoricini
๐Ÿ˜Š Smiling face with smiling eyes, U+1F60A
  • U: Faccina con occhi sorridenti
  • EG: Faccina sorridente con occhi felici
  • IOS: Faccina che sorride con occhi sorridenti e guance rosse
๐Ÿ‘ Thumbs up
  • U: Pollice in su
  • EG: Pollice su
  • IOS: Pollice verso altro
๐Ÿ˜˜ Face blowing a kiss
  • U/IOS/EG: Faccina che manda un bacio
๐Ÿ’• Two hearts U+1F495
  • U/EG: Due cuori
๐Ÿ˜… Grinning face with sweat U+1F605
  • U: Faccina con un gran sorriso e goccia di sudore
  • EG: Faccina ghignante con sudore
  • IOS: Faccina che ride con gli occhi sorridenti con goccia di sudore
๐Ÿ˜ Beaming face with smiling eyes U+1F601
  • U/EG: Faccina raggiante con occhi felici
  • IOS: Faccina con occhi sorridente
๐Ÿ‘Œ OK hand U+1F44C
  • U/IOS: Mano che fa OK
  • EG: Gesto OK
๐Ÿ’ช Flexed biceps U+1F4AA
  • U: Bicipite
  • EG/IOS: Bicipite flesso
๐Ÿ˜† Grinning squinting face U+1F606
  • U: Sorriso a bocca aperta con occhi chiusi
  • EG: Faccina occhi stretti ghignante
  • IOS: Faccina molto sorridente che strizza gli occhi
๐Ÿ’™ Blue heart U+1F499
  • U/IOS: Cuore azzurro
  • EG: Cuore blue
๐Ÿ’” Broken heart U+1F494
  • U/IOS: Cuore infranto
  • EG: Curore spezzato

The emoji for the VERY Italian gesture of che vuoi!? or ma cosa dici!? is It hasn't made its way into all platforms as of writing.

Resources – English only, shows Unicode and short codes – Italian explanations of emojis. Some definitions diverge from Unicode. – In English and other languages. Can search in English than switch to Italian. – Search in English, find an emoji, and then at the bottom of the page find description in other languages. – Find emojis in all languages with explanations.

The 100 Most-Used Emojis (2014)

Unicode Consortium – Background on how emojis come to be and the base set used across platforms and software.

Unicode CLDR Project – useful for developers building software who want to incorporate emojis in their applications. – look up any emoji, see Top-50

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