(WTNH/WOOD)– Call it a sign (or symbol) of the times.
Oxford Dictionaries’ 2015 “Word of the Year” is impossible to pronounce because it’s not a word at all. It’s an emoji, more specifically the happy yellow cartoon face with two giant tears.
The emoji’s official name is “face with tears of joy.”
Every year, Oxford Dictionaries picks a word that captures that year’s biggest trends in the English language. Last year the word of the year was “vape”, and the year before that it was “selfie.”
This year’s other contenders were “refugee,” “lumbersexual,” “Dark Web,” “ad blocker,” “Brexit,” ”sharing economy,” “they” and “on fleek.”
The group’s president, Caspar Grathwohl, says emojis are now replacing entire words and “transcend linguistic borders.”
While emoji have been around since the late 1990s, their use and even the word “emoji” gained popularity in 2015.
“Although emoji have been a staple of texting teens for some time, emoji culture exploded into the global mainstream over the past year,” Oxford said in a press release.
Oxford partnered with Swiftkey, a mobile technology business, which used statistics to discover that the “face with tears of joy” emoji was the most used emoji globally in 2015.
The”face with tears of joy” emoji comprised about 20 percent of all emoji used in the U.S. and the U.K.
The data also found that the kissing heart face emoji was the second most used, with 9 percent usage in the U.S.
“Emoji have come to embody a core aspect of living in a digital world that is visually driven, emotionally expressive, and obsessively immediate,” the release said.
This year marks the first time Oxford Dictionaries has used a pictograph as its word of the year.