It may not be a word by the strictest definition. It’s certainly impossible to pronounce because it has no letters. It’s not even available in Oxford Dictionary of English! Oxford Dictionaries’ “word” of the year for 2015 is actually a yellow cartoon face, laughing and shedding giant tears!
“You can see how traditional alphabet scripts have been struggling to meet the rapid-fire, visually focused demands of 21st century communication,” said Oxford Dictionaries’ president Casper Grathwohl in a statement. “It’s not surprising that a pictographic script like emoji has stepped in to fill those gaps. Its flexible, immediate, and infuses tone beautifully.”
“As a result, emojis are becoming an increasingly rich form of communication, one that transcends linguistic borders. When Andy Murray tweeted out his wedding itinerary entirely in emoji, for example, he shared a subtle mix of his feelings about the day directly with fans around the world. It was highly effective in expressing his emotions.”
This particular emoji is officially named as a “face with tears of joy”, and was first introduced in 2010. According to SwiftKey, the maker of emoji keyboards, the tears of joy face was the most frequently used emoji in 2015, making up 17% of all emojis in the U.S. and 20% in the UK.
Emoji is actually a loanword from Japanese defined as “a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion in electronic communication.” It comes in the series of light-hearted picks from Oxford Dictionaries. Last year, they picked “vape,“ in 2013 it was “selfie,” and in 2012 it was “GIF.”