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Meanings of WhatsApp Symbols, Icons, Emoticons

Chinese and Japanese symbols in WhatsApp.
Samyak Lalit | August 29, 2017 (Last update: September 13, 2019)

Samyak Lalit is an Indian author and disability rights activist. He is the principal author and founder of projects like TechWelkin, WeCapable, Viklangta, Kavita Kosh among many others.

WhatsApp is the world’s most popular mobile chat app. It has revolutionized the way the word communicates. WhatsApp has made it very easy to transfer text messages, photos, videos and audio files from one mobile phone to another. Now it is even possible to use WhatsApp on computer. People all over the world are using WhatsApp in a large number of languages. But the language of those smiley faces is all the same world over.

As the saying goes, a picture says a thousand words. Therefore, since long, emoticons have been an essential part of any good chat application. WhatsApp and other emoji apps provide a large set of emoticons to convey feelings and several other thoughts which would otherwise need several words to express. But many of these WhatsApp symbols are confusing. Most people don’t know the meaning of many WhatsApp icons or symbols. While there are some standards ones (like smile, sad, laugh, cry etc.); many other symbols seem to have no apparent meaning.

A reader of my blog asked me through email the meaning of certain WhatsApp symbols. That’s how I thought of researching and writing this article.

What are WhatsApp Symbols, Icons, Emoticons, Emoji?

Emoticons are actually a combination of text characters. When put together, they convey a certain emotion. For example, :-) is a combination that conveys smile. Emoticons were invented by general users of the chat applications.

SEE ALSO: Learn cool WhatsApp Tricks

Later small picture icons came in trend. Web applications (like Facebook chat) began to use such pictorial expressions. Facebook also launched FB Stickers Store to supply even more such icons. These pictorial symbols are called Emoji (it is a Japanese language word that means Picture Letters). Emoji were first invented in Japan and WhatsApp icon-set has several icons that have a special meaning in the Japanese culture.

The symbols or icons that you send to your friend on WhatsApp are actually called Emojis!

WhatsApp Sun Sign Symbols (Zodiac Symbols)

WhatsApp has the regular 12 sun sign symbols (zodiac symbols). The symbols are painted white in color on square buttons with purple background. The sun sign symbols are:

Zodiac Symbols (sun signs) in WhatsApp

Zodiac Symbols (sun signs) in WhatsApp

1. Aries, 2. Taurus, 3. Gemini, 4. Cancer, 5. Leo, 6. Virgo, 7. Libra, 8. Scorpio, 9. Sagittarius, 10. Capricorn, 11. Aquarius, 12. Pisces

These symbols are used to show one’s sun sign of birth.

Meaning of Ophiuchus Symbol

WhatsApp Ophiuchus Symbol
In WhatsApp, the Ophiuchus symbol is available right after the regular zodiac signs. Ophiuchus is considered the 13th Zodiac sign and it represents the Ophiuchus constellation.

Meaning of Six Pointed Star With Middle Dot

Six Pointed Star With Middle Dot. The Star of David.
This symbol appears right after the Ophiuchus symbol. This six pointed star with a dot in the center is called the Star of David. It is a a sacred symbol in Judaism. In Hebrew, this symbol is called the Magen David (meaning “Shield of David”).

Meanings of WhatsApp Symbols and Icons

Now, let’s learn the meanings of some of the very intriguing WhatsApp symbols. You’ll find that you may be using these symbols to convey something else than their originally intended use!

Meaning of Eyes Covering Monkey

monkey emojis representing see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

A lot of people often use this emoji to convey “embarrassment” or and “oops! moment”. But in reality this money emoji with eyes covered by his hands is actually connects to the proverb “See no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil”. This emoji represents the “see no evil” part. To complete the set, there are two more money emojis available.

Meaning of Two Open Palms / Hands

open hands or palms emoji

This emoji was created to convey “openness” or acceptability. So, you can use it as a symbol for hugging someone. However, all over the world, people use it with their own innumerable interpretations. So, tell us, please!, how have you been using this openness emoji?!

1. Meaning of “WC” WhatsApp Emoji

WC WhatsApp Symbol
“WC” stands for Water Closet. This is the standard symbol for toilet in several parts of the world including Europe. So, if you want to rush to the toilet in the middle of a WhatsApp chat, you may send this WC symbol!

2. Meaning of Man Bowing Symbol

Man Bowing, WhatsApp Symbol
In Japan, bowing is a  way for showing respect. Mostly, this emoji often used by WhatsApp users to convey that someone is “thinking”. But the real meaning of this symbol is to convey respect to the other person.

3. Meaning of SOS Symbol

SOS WhatsApp Symbol
World over, SOS is the call for help. SOS stands for Save Our Soul. You may use it on WhatsApp chat when you’re desperately seeking help from your friend. Just send this icon and your meaning would be clearly conveyed.

4. Meaning of “Stressed Face with Sweat Droplet”

Droplet on Forehead: WhatsApp Symbol
Many people mistake this droplet with a tear drop. But actually it is meant to be a sweat drop on the forehead of a stressed person. So, if you’re pain, fatigue, fear etc. you can send this WhatsApp symbol over chat. I hope you’re not sweating because you’ve send a WhatsApp message to a wrong person!

5. Meaning of “Star with a circle”

Circling Star WhatsApp Symbol
Different people use it differently. Some folks think it is an award, some think it is a shooting star and others use it as an aura of a blessed person. But you will be surprised to know that the reality is far from all these interpretations. In reality, this WhatsApp symbol is meant to show dizziness or a spinning head! (this is the reason why this icon has been placed in Expressions category). So, if you want to comically say something like that you’ve been hit by a huge workload, you can use this symbol.

6. Meaning of “Folded Hands”

Folded Hands WhatsApp Emoticon Meaning
Mostly WhatsApp users use this emoji to convey a prayer or pleading. In India, people use it to convey namaste, a gesture to convey respect. But in truth, as per Japanese traditions, this gesture conveys gratitude towards someone who does a favor to you. Japanese people especially use it to show their gratitude after having a meal at their host.

7. Meaning of WhatsApp Symbol: “Brunette in Pink Shirt with Hand Stretched Outward”

Girl in Pink Shirt with Hand Outward
As per Mashable, this icon was originally meant for asking how could you be of help to the other person (like a receptionist asking “How may I help you?”). But users of WhatsApp have made their own interpretations. For example, some use it to convey smugness or “I am better than you” attitude. These people think that the brunette has flicked her hair backward with her hand and thus conveying a sort of superiority or carelessness.

8. Who is John Appleseed?

Credit Card signed by John Appleseed.
This a credit card icon —there is no confusion about it. But if you look at a bigger version of this icon, you’ll notice that the card has been signed by some John Appleseed. Naturally, many people will ask, who is this John Appleseed? Well, according to TechRadar, John Appleseed was a nickname used by former Apple CEO Mike Markkula. He used this alias to sign software programs which he created for Apple II. As a sign of respect for Markkula, Apple has been using John Appleseed as a demo name.

9. Meaning of WhatsApp Symbol: “Church with a Heart”

Church with a heart: WhatsApp symbol
This icon most probably conveys a “wedding”. Other possible usages could be “I love going to Church”.

10. Meaning of WhatsApp Symbol: “Three bamboos on a rock”
WhatsApp Icon with Three Bamboos
This is called Kadomatsu in Japan. According to Wikipedia, it is a traditional Japanese decoration made of three bamboo shoots and pine leaves. These are used on the New Year to welcome ancestral spirits of the harvest. Usually Kadomatsus are placed in pairs in front of homes.

Meaning of WhatsApp Chinese Symbols

These are actually Japanese Kanji symbols (but most people may anyway think that the language inscribed is Chinese!).

Chinese and Japanese symbols in WhatsApp.

Chinese and Japanese symbols in WhatsApp.

  1. It is a Japanese Katakana, meaning “here”
  2. Full or complete
  3. Good bargain (this circular sign is often used in shops)
  4. Possess (Chinese symbol)
  5. Have the honor to (meaning given by Avenger through comments section. Thanks!)
  6. Finger pointing
  7. Agreement
  8. Cut-price
  9. Not available
  10. According to cilisos the inscription inside the white flower says “tai hen yoku dekimashita”. It means “you did very well”; teachers often give this stamp to good performing students.
  11. Incomplete, half-empty, place is available
  12. Forbidden (in Chinese)
  13. Work. Often used to indicate work hours
  14. Japanese kanji symbol for moon

There are many other Japanese/Chinese emojis available in WhatsApp. Soon, I will add more of these along with their meanings.

Meaning of WhatsApp Smileys

Most of WhatsApp smileys have standard meanings. Sometime ago Buzzfeed published a graphic depicting the WhatsApp smiley meanings. I am using that same image instead of rewriting the entire story. Here you’ll find meaning of smiling, crying, laughing, excited, worried, angry smiley faces among others.

WhatsApp Smiley Faces and their meanings.

WhatsApp Smiley Faces and their meanings.

Well, I hope this compilation was useful for you. Please take part in this compilation and let me know the meanings of other weird WhatsApp symbols. Thank you for using TechWelkin!


66 responses to “Meanings of WhatsApp Symbols, Icons, Emoticons”

  1. Mitch Berger says:

    While 🈯️ literally means “point” or “finger”, the idiomatic meaning isn’t what we in English would call “finger pointing”. It means “reserved”, and is used in tourism or catering.

  2. Jenny Blincoe says:

    What does the blue square with white mountain after the name mean?

  3. Jenny Blincoe says:

    What does the blue square with white mountain after the name mean?

  4. Brad says:

    What’s the diamond/gem stone mean?

  5. Dr. Zakir Ali Rajnish says:

    ललित जी, आज किसी रेफ्रेंस से यहां तक पहुंचा, और आपका आर्टिकल पढकर बहुत सारी जिज्ञासाएं शांत हुईं। व्‍ााट्सअप का यूज़ तो बहुत दिनों से कर रहा था, पर उनके सिम्‍बल्‍स के बारे में आज पता चला। शुक्रिया।

  6. Mpho khosa says:

    Hi a smiley that’s represents a hug. I can’t copy and paste it

  7. Thomas Lee Evans says:

    Why is there no “raised eyebrow” emoji for “puzzled” or “questioning” of “disbelieving”. I’m constantly coming across the need for one, but of all the human expressions that can be depicted through emoji’s, none of them will suit. The “thinking about it” face (head tilted with hand on chin…not on the above list) comes close but no cigar.

  8. jb says:

    What is the meaning of nerd emoji? Big glasses on face with two teeth out?

  9. Jb says:


    I never know the true meanings of these emoji! Thanks for clarifying.

    ?what exactly does this one mean?

  10. Fatts says:

    What does this smiley means?

  11. Shivaji says:

    ? meaning

  12. Nel says:

    What is the meaning of emoji smiley with mouth zip? thanks

    • Lalit Kumar says:

      Hi Nel, the emoji showing a zipped or zipping mouth means sealed lips. This conveys a secret. It also says that “I’m not saying anything” or “you should keep quiet”.

  13. margaret says:

    What does the symbol of a speaker with a line drawn through it mean?can you block someone on WhatsApp?

    • Lalit Kumar says:

      Hi Margaret, yes you can block anyone on WhatsApp. But the speaker icon with a crossing line means that the conversation is muted. You will not receive any notification for muted conversations.

  14. lucky says:

    Is WhatsApp made only for Japanese?

    • Lalit Kumar says:

      No! WhatsApp is made and available for anyone around the world. It’s just that the concept of pictorial representation of emotions (called emoji) originated in Japan. So, a number of emojis have connections with Japanese culture.

  15. Dipti Pathre says:

    Can anyone please help me with the count of Emojis on WhatsApp for

    1. Sad emotion
    2. Stress emotions
    3. Depressed emotion
    4. Irritated Emotion

    Basically the count of emojis representing negative emotions and happy emotions

    Thanks & Regards,

  16. Navatha says:

    Could you please help me to interpret emoticons on whats app without having to download any other app. Tried placing my finger on the icon to see if it pops a meaning.

    • Lalit Kumar says:

      There is no such feature that will pop a window and tell you the meaning of WhatsApp emoticons. I am adding meanings of emoji icons in my article as I am learning them.

  17. Smart says:

    What does this symbol mean ??

    • Lalit Kumar says:

      Although this emoji looks like a leaking nose (water drop coming out of nose), but as Rasika explained in her comment below this emoji represents extreme boredom in Japanese manga.

  18. justin says:

    Needing help figuring out true meaning of emoji frm a message.

    Brown maple leaf followed by single blowing green leaf .followed by single orange leaf. They were sent in the message exactly as i describe.

    If u can help me figure out what these emoji mean i would appreciate it.

    • Lalit Kumar says:

      Hi Justin, there is no hidden message in this emoji. The emoji that you described just depicts Autumn leaves or Autumn season.

  19. amai says:

    please help me with this one ? what does this smiley mean?

  20. iksy says:

    Please what does this mean. ⚓ Thanks

  21. Vj says:

    That was very helpful in decoding the codes. thank you :) Your research is valueable. Good.

  22. Winder says:

    If on WhatsApp chat someone reply as “Cool” then What is the meaning of this ?

  23. mounika says:

    What is the meaning of this watsapp symbol?

    • Lalit Kumar says:

      This emoji looks like two fish but actually these are two wind socks. Such wind socks are used in Japan on Children’s Day. This symbol is also known as Koinobori, Fish Flag or Wind Socks Emoji.

  24. nyingi says:

    Found it very useful! Many thanks.

  25. Mamalove says:

    What does ♨ this symbol means in whatsapp?

  26. Loani Garcia says:

    What does the symbol TM stand for in WhatsApp? For example in this sentence some one put this as a status: “I am interested as you and TM”

    • Lalit Kumar says:

      The TM symbol is supposed to mean “trademark” but in WhatsApp different people may use it as an abbreviation of something else (which only they know!)

  27. Sravan says:

    What does this mean, I thought waving hand, please clarify.

  28. Fatima says:

    What is the meaning of this WhatsApp symbol and when to use this sign in whatsapp?
    ” ✊ “

    • Lalit Kumar says:

      Hello Fatima, this symbol is called Raised Fist or Clenched Fist and it is used for showing support or solidarity with someone or a with cause.

  29. Nihonjin says:

    Actually, there is no Chinese among them. Could be several but almost unique Asian style icons are definitely Japanese.
    Little bit confusing to someone who knows China and Japan, because some Kanji (Chinese Letter) is used in China too. But if you see the atmosphere of all of them, they are Japanese taste design —and not Chinese at all.

    comment by a Japanese

    • Lalit Kumar says:

      Thank you for the comment, Nihonjin! I also have written in the article that “These are actually Japanese Kanji symbols (but most people may anyway think that the language inscribed is Chinese!)”… These emojis are based on Japanese culture but a lot of people who can not differentiate between Japanese and Chinese will get easily confused. Thanks for your comment and information!

  30. Vijay says:

    Actually ♋ should mean Pisces. As Pisces are always shown as two fishes in a bowl of water!

    • Lalit Kumar says:

      Vijay, you are right that two fish on top of each other are also shown as a symbol of Pisces. But in astrology the sign you’ve mentioned belongs to Cancer. The meaning of WhatsApp symbols that I have given above, is correct.

  31. sharu says:

    It was helpful.. Tysm:)

  32. chinnu says:

    Thank you… ☺

  33. Avenger says:

    That's 5th. It seems it exists in other languages as well:

    I couldn't find #12 on wikipedia's stroke by count list :(

  34. Er. Lokesh Sarnot says:

    This information was very helpful to know the real meaning of smileys!

  35. Krishan yadav says:

    ♈ what this smile means in whatsaap

    • eurog0nian says:

      That’s the astrology symbol for Aries (the Ram – which is a male goat with two curved horns).

  36. Twokrillin says:

    The last one (14) is Japanese Kanji for Moon

  37. Esteban says:

    I think the last emoji is Chinese. It means moon.

  38. Noah says:

    The very last Japanese emoji I’m pretty sure means month. If that helps at all

  39. Edwin Felix says:

    Mr.Lalit Kumar,thanks for sharing valuable information often.keep sharing ………..

  40. Jason says:

    Thanks for letting us know the real meaning of these icons. I am using WhatsApp and i didn’t really know the meaning of it.

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