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The UK’s emoji habits

02/05/2018 · Blog · Insurance2Go

We surveyed 1,000 adults to find out Britain’s favourite (and most hated) emojis, as well as the saucy emojis Brits use to flirt.

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last decade, it’s likely that you’ll not only know what emojis are, but have been using them on your smartphone on a daily basis.

Emojis often say what words can't, whether that’s a cheeky wink to your crush, or a gasp face at your friend’s shocking news.

We surveyed 1,000 adults to find out Britain’s favourite (and most hated) emojis, as well as the saucy emojis Brits use to flirt.

Most popular emojis

Our survey revealed the most common emojis used by Brits are:

  1. The smiling face with smiling eyes 😊 (42%)
  2. Winking face 😉 (34%)
  3. Crying with laughter face 😂 (30%)
  4. Thumbs up 👍 (28%)
  5. Blowing kiss face 😘 (21%)

However, our favourite emojis, and what they’re interpreted as, varies for each age group. The crying with laughter face 😂is top among 18 to 24 year olds, followed by the wink face 😉 and the smiling face with smiling eyes 😊.

Those 55 and over are more likely to favour the smiling face with smiling eyes 😊, thumbs up 👍 and winking face 😉.

Most popular emoji by age group

18-24 - Face with tears of joy 😂(47%)

25-34 - The smiling face with smiling eyes 😊(38%)

35-44 - Winking face 😉(35%)

45-54 - The smiling face with smiling eyes 😊(38%)

55+ - The smiling face with smiling eyes 😊(56%)

Flirting with emojis

It’s not just everyday conversations that emojis come into play, though. Nearly two in five (38%) of Brits say they use emojis to flirt, with the wink face 😉, blowing a kiss face😘 and heart eyes face 😍 most likely to be used in Brits’ conquest for love.

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely these emojis will get flirtatious Brits very far, as these are also the emojis most likely to turn someone off!

For those using emojis to flirt with men, try to also avoid the lipstick mark emoji, the crying with laughter face, the holding hands emoji and the starry-eyed face, as our survey showed men are really not keen on these!

And when messaging a woman, be wary of sending the flexed bicep, diamond ring and the oh so notorious eggplant, if you’d like any chance of scoring a date.

Emojis most likely to turn someone off

  1. Winking face 😉 (29%)
  2. Blowing a kiss face 😘 (19%)
  3. Heart eyes face 😍 (17%)
  4. Tongue out face 😛 (16%)
  5. Pile of poop💩 (14%)

Whatever emojis you prefer to use, it turns out they might just be be misinterpreted by the person you send them to anyway – especially if the recipient is aged 18 to 24! 38% of this age group admitted they have misunderstood an emoji they’ve received in the past, with 23% of the general population saying the same.

Emoji stories Brits would rather forget

An emoji can speak a thousand words, but what happens when you slip up and send a suggestive emoji to the wrong person? In our survey, many of the respondents revealed their biggest emoji fails, which ranged from sending love hearts to builders to pile of poop emojis ending up in a boss' inbox - awkward!

Some of the worst however, revolve around the aubergine/eggplant emoji. Sending the rather phallic vegetable to a parent - instead of a partner - cropped up way too often. We hope, for the unfortunate sender's sake, that the rest of the text was clean. They might just get away with pretending they were enquiring about dinner - or even growing vegetables - instead. After all, almost a quarter of Brits (24%) have admitted to misinterpreting an emoji in the past!

Get it right - advice from the experts

Want to avoid the embarrassment and mishaps of the poor Brits above? Whether you're trying to add a spark to a current relationship or kick things off with a crush, there are certain dos and don’ts when it comes to flirting with emojis.

To help you out, we sought the advice of Martina Mercer, relationship expert at Sunday Women Magazine. She acknowledges just how confusing emojis and their meanings can be, stating: “Emojis can be a minefield to use in texting and messaging, as different people interpret them in different ways. There are some that should be used sparingly, and others which should be retained until the relationship has reached a certain level.

“For instance, the cat with love eyes emoji signifies a very deep connection to the other person and a declaration of love – although it can also be used to show adoration for food. The aubergine emoji is particularly naughty, and should really only be used if the relationship has reached the sex phase, the same is true of the dripping water emoji.”

Still worried and confused? We agree 100% with Martina's next statement: “If in doubt, follow your partner’s lead. See how they use emojis and follow suit to play it safe.”

Of course, some often wonder why emojis are used to flirt in the first place if they are so easy to misinterpret. Our second relationship expert, James Preece from, sheds some light on this, revealing that it's the universality of emojis that makes them so useful. Even a kiss, for example, can be used in a funny, teasing or serious way, however it shouldn't really matter if you send it to the right person.

Expanding on this further, James says: “The bottom line is that if someone is interested in you, they aren't going to mind what emoji you use.  If they think you are funny, they'll see the symbols as funny. If they aren't attracted to you then anything will be considered offensive. Emojis are a good way to find out if someone is into you or not very quickly. Use them sparingly for maximum effect.”

Are you an emoji aficionado or more of a spell-it-out kind of person? Let us know your favourite emojis over on Twitter

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