• emoji •
Pronunciation: i-mow-jee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A small digital cartoon image or icon used to express a basic idea, emotion, etc. in electronic communications.
Notes: This word has made it into Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary, and the Apple and Samsung iPhone support thousands. So, I guess they've made it into every language on Earth. They even have their own encyclopedia (Emojipedia). It is a Japanese borrowing, so it is unlikely to produce an extended family. The plural is either emoji or emojis.
In Play: The meanings we attach to emojis are in a fluid state currently: "I just received a text message from Lucinda Head with six banana emojis in a line. What does that mean?" Don't you just hate receiving text messages with more emojis than words?
Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Japanese emoji "pictograph". It emerged around 1928 or even earlier, perhaps modeled after English pictograph. Emoji comprises (y)e "picture" (8th century from Middle Chinese) + moji "letter, character" (a 10th century contraction of mon "character, word"). The resemblance in form and meaning to emoticon is coincidental. Original smiley face Emoticons, images made from punctuation marks, numbers and letters like and >:-( to crudely convey emotions, are the predecessors of emojis. Emoticons started out as an attempt to reproduce a smiley face with type. The "smiley" was created in 1963 by commercial artist Harvey Ball, who started all this as the picture on the right above.