Emoji: What Is the True Meaning Behind Each Hand

Emoji: What Is the True Meaning Behind Each Hand ...

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then an emoji is worth at least 10,000? Well, how is one supposed to know when to choose between the two? It''s already been established when to use the smiling cat rather than the crying or laughing cat, as well as what each heart emoji means.

Although classics like the peace sign and wave may easily deduce from IRL, the language of hand emojis is quite extensive. And their interpretations even seem to come with their own dialect sometimes. (See: The Japanese folding hand emoji, which literally means gratitude, but is widely interpreted in other countries as praying or a high five.)

As the emoji library continues to expand with new features, including the Appleas iOS 15.4 update in March, itas always a good time to refresh your emoji fluency, and there''s no better time to start than hand emojis.

Hereas the origins of some of the most commonly used hands emojis.

1.Thumbs Up

The aThumbs Upa emoji is designed to express general satisfaction, according to Emojipedia. It may also be used sarcastically to indicate something isn''t actually good.

2.Thumbs Down

The Thumbs Down emoji is almost never used sarcastically, unlike its more positive counterpart. Emojipedia states that itas are meant to indicate disapproval, particularly when your group chats all thumbs down react to your suggestion to have a Pride & Prejudice movie night again.


It''s similar to the Thumbs Up emoji, but it''s also more fun. Emojipedia says that the symbol can represent, aIam OKa or aYes, thatas correct/good,a, which feels like a correct/good definition of how itas generally used. It also suggests that "This is literally how much I care," but not the space between the two fingers.

4.Praying Hands

This one is most commonly referred to as the prayer or praise hands emoji. It is also known as the "high five" emoji, which sort of makes sense if you want to be like that. However, on Emojipedia, the emoji is described as afolded handsa and is said to symbolize please or thank you in Japanese culture.

5.Peace Sign

Emojipedia explains this word as "Victory Hand," but points out that itas most commonly described as the peace sign. The emoji is a popular style of greeting and gesture, but it may be used to describe something like "just chillinga or apeace be with you."

6.Flexed Bicep

Emojipedia claims that the flexible bicep emoji is used to mean astrength or working out.a However, it might be best used to top off a aNot to flex, but...a text. It may also be used less often to mean "nailed it."

7.Clapping Hands

Emojipedia claims that using this symbol, especially several times in a row, can be applause. Nevertheless, anything that truly deserves praise should be addressed with a thumbs up or a face, so you really need to use the clapping hands to sarcastically indicate that someone''s behavior isn''t deserving of real applause.

8.Pointing Up

Emojipedia claims that this method is intended to be the number one or to indicate a question, but that it may be used to demonstrate someone how much you want to spend that night.

9.Fist Bump

The official title of this emoji is "Fisted emoji," but please let''s not repeat it. Emojipedia claims the emoji will be used to represent punching someone or fist-bumping them a which can be a pretty mixed signal.

10.Raised Hand

This emoji is supposed to be astopa or to high-five someone, according to Emojipedia. (Again, fairly mixed signals a but astopa appears to be more common, FYI.) Of course, it can also be used as a sassy aTalk to the hand, a or, in the age of Zoom, to indicate that you have a question.

11.Vulcan Salute

If you haven''t seen Star Trek, this emoji is likely to be a shady surprise to you. But if you are Trekkie, or have checked its Emojipedia, you may know this as the Spock emoji or the Vulcan Salute. The salute is essentially a message, and it means a Live long and prosper.

12.Fingers Crossed

You may have previously used the praying hands emoji for all of your wishes. But now, with the fingers crossed emoji, you may manifest with one tap of your keyboard. Emojipedia said this is meant to wish someone luck or demonstrate that you are wishing for a certain outcome.


Emojipedia believes that this technique may be used as a cordial greeting, but itas is also often used to imply that youave made a deal or found a comrade in someone. This aPleasure doing business with youa emoji is the perfect balance of business and casual.

14.Heart Hands

Whether you are a Swiftie who remembers Taylor throwing this signal at concerts or are enjoying the TikTok renaissance of the heart hands, this is the perfect cutesy way to give someone a little extra love. Emojipedia claims this method is used to express a love and support, which it is very precise.

15.Finger Point Left/Finger Pointing Right

These are two separate emojis, but chances are, that you will typically be using these two together when you are ready to begin full simp mode. Emojipedia does not specify a deeper meaning to these symbols other than a index finger, a but it oversimplifies the simping.

16.Hang Loose

Emojipedia drew this as the acall mea hand, which makes sense. But it appears that youall see this as a shaka ahang loosea sign when you are working to keep things chilled in the group chat. But be careful if someone fails to receive an unolicited FaceTime call.

17.Writing Hand

Emojipedia describes this as a symbol that is commonly used to indicate that a lesson is learned, and to indicate that someone is taking notes.a (i.e., aUseaiwritingaiemojiaijokingly. Got it.a)

18.Raising Hands Emoji

The two raised hands depicted in the above emoji are used to celebrate. Do you finally decide on a meal for the night? Shoot them their way.

19.Hand With Index Finger & Thumb Crossed

This act can be interpreted as money, as in two fingers rubbing together or love, as in the finger hearts K-Pop throws up.

20.Index Pointing At The Viewer

This new emoji is used to indicate an emphatic ayou, as in a text you might send your roommate a aNo, YOU must remove the trash tomorrow.

21.Love You Gesture

This emoji might appear like a variation of aRock On, but itas actually American Sign Language for aI love you.a (The three fingers, combined, spell I-L-Y.)

22.Middle Finger

Well, you know what this word means.

23.Nail Polish

Elle Woods'' visual expression, aWhat, like itas difficult?a in Legally Blonde, or Lizzo feeling shivering in her aBalenciussies.a Use it when you want to show off that your latest flex was NBD.

24.Palm Up Hand

This Emojipedia, which means ato represents the task of lifting, offering, demanding, or beckoning, as well as to indicate that youare questioning. Another context might be opening your hands to the universe, as in a meditation practice. (See also palm down hand, which might suggest dropping something or ground your hands down.)

25.Pinched Fingers

Per Emojipedia, this emoji represents the Italian gesture ma che vuoi, which is loosely translated as meaning aWhat do you want?a Colloquially, you may also use this to signal that something is, mwah, chefas kiss.

26.Pinching Hand

This emoji is perfect to imply that you want to drink at the bar tonight, or, per Emojipedia, to indicate that something is minor. Ahem.

This article was originally published on July 3, 2015.

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