Emojis superimposed on people's heads who are standing on their phones. From left to right: wink emoji, purple devil emoji, cry emoji.

Emojis have effectively become a language of their own, with people using them to communicate thoughts, emotions and even ideologies. If you think about it they are probably, in many respects, one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the world of dating apps. Messages going back and forth can be friendly, flirty or downright carnal. Emoji meanings are more complex than we think, so they can be misinterpreted, sometimes causing awkward situations. To dispel the confusion, let’s read some of the most widely-used emojis for what they are.

The Wink

Wink emoji

Perhaps the most obvious means of flirtation, the wink emoji can be used in a romantic and platonic capacity. It can mean anything from sarcasm – i.e. the last thing you said was a joke – to ‘I’m very attracted to you’. Depending on context, it might even be used to instigate sexual attraction, following dialogue of intentions between the sheets. It’s a good way to test the waters and gauge whether the other person is ‘feeling it’. It’s also a double-edged sword, so, if not well-received, you can pass whatever you said off as a joke.

The Three Monkies

The three monkies with hands-over-eyes, ears and mouth relate to the Buddhist proverb “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. However, we’ve interpreted the symbols to express our embarrassment over something we’ve done, seen, said or heard. Often used to show you don’t take yourself too seriously and, although you don’t always play by the rules, you’re genuinely a good person.

three monkeys emoji hands-over-eyes, hands-over-ears, hands-over-mouth

The Purple Devil

Purple devil emoji

The gay dating world is a different ball game entirely to the heterosexual one. Literally and figuratively. The devil emoji is one of many that are commonplace in gay dating apps like Grinder and Scruff. It usually means that the sender’s intentions are not innocent. Use with caution – you could have that special someone running a mile.

The Fire Emoji

Fire emoji

Too hot to handle. The fire emoji is a compliment solely about a person’s looks. They are literally ‘fire’, and something the sender would love to pursue. They might feel a little insecure about doing so, though. Some people might send the ‘drooling face’ emoji as an alternative to show how desirable they find someone.

Sexual Innuendoes

There are so many sexual innuendos with emojis, and some, while not altogether tasteful, add to the humour of talking to someone new. The eggplant emoji is phallic, likewise with corn, while peaches and cherries represented other areas of the nether-region. If you’ve received the explicit ‘sweat droplets’, it is usually sex-related, too.

So, before sending that small, seemingly uncomplicated symbol, remember exactly how it may be interpreted. The energy behind the emoji is more powerful than the emoji itself, so use wisely.