A-Z: Deciphering emojis and modern acronyms

Do you find yourself staring at an emoji someone has sent you, or reading an acronym that doesn’t make any sense, and wonder whether you’re having a conversation in another language? You’re not alone! The internet has dramatically changed our writing conventions, so much so that it can be difficult knowing what someone else is trying to say to you.

To help break down these walls, we’ve explored some of the most common emojis and acronyms in circulation today. Hopefully our explanations will help you navigate the sometimes confusing world of social media and texting.

What are emojis?

Emojis are little images – or emoticons – that are designed to convey feelings without saying a single word. The beauty of emojis (but also a common gripe for those of us who aren’t teenagers) is that their meaning can change suddenly and without warning. The good news is that you can probably decipher what most emojis mean just within the context of the conversation and who you are speaking to.

Still, to help you wrap your head around emojis, here are some of the most common ones and their definitions.

The emoji rundown

Red love heart ❤️

One of the most popular emojis in use today, the red love heart is associated with all things love and gratitude. You can use it to show someone you care about them, or that you love something they’ve shared, and it’s also a common emoji for Facebook ‘reacts’ and on other platforms like Snapchat, to indicate a ‘best friend’ who you regularly share snaps with.

Laughing face 😂

Raised eyebrows, a huge open-mouthed grin and tears running down its face. You can probably already guess that this emoji is used when something is so funny you’re crying tears of laughter. However, in the past it’s been incorrectly used by people who think it’s just a crying face. That can get a bit awkward when used in the context of something that is actually sad!

Fire 🔥

If you’re a parent then you might get a few groans from the kids if you send them this emoji in the right context. The flame is a metaphor that’s used when you’re referring to something that’s hot or lit. The former is typically used when describing someone who’s attractive (hot), while the latter is about things that are really cool (lit).

Sparkles ✨

This one might have flown under your radar, but it’s so popular these days that track number four on Coldplay’s 2021 album ‘Music of the Spheres’ is simply the sparkles emoji. What does it mean? Not to be confused with the more traditional star emoji, sparkles is most commonly used to convey a sense of happiness, joy, love and thanks. However, it can also be used to represent the literal night sky, as well as fireworks.

Mask face 😷

What could be a more appropriate emoji for a pandemic? The masked emoji usually represents when you are feeling sick, or just down. However, with its popularity kicking into gear due to coronavirus, there’s now a ‘new’ masked emoji that’s no longer looking sad but actually has smiling eyes. It’s more often associated with activities during the pandemic, rather than just feeling sick.

The wild world of modern acronyms


Depending on where you work, you’ve probably come across this one from time to time – more so now that the pandemic caused the majority of us to work from home (see below for another fun acronym about work). OOO means ‘out of office’ and it’s a quick, effective way to tell people you’re not around to answer their emails right now.


Want to make something clear to someone? The best way is to speak honestly and openly with them. You can preface your intentions on messages and emails by using the IMO acronym – or ‘in my opinion’. There’s also the IMHO variant that means ‘in my honest opinion’, but generally the two are considered one and the same.


Something we’ve all been doing over the past couple of years is WFH – or ‘working from home’. If you are one of the many Australians now adopting a hybrid work policy or going fully remote, then you may need to include WFH in email signatures or on your OOO messages to let your co-workers and clients know you won’t be in the office today.


Did you send a wall of text to someone and they replied with TL;DR? It’s not exactly a pleasant response, but it’s become a common term in online forums and on social media when someone posts a lengthy diatribe. It means ‘too long; didn’t read’. However, you can also use it in a positive way – for example, if you are making a big post on Facebook or sending a long work email, you can add a TL;DR at the bottom where it’s just a sentence or two of your explanation, rather than the long version.


Some people might think serious conversations are no place for acronyms and emojis, but especially when speaking to younger people it’s common for things like IFYP (I feel your pain) and JSYK (just so you know) to come up. FWIW means ‘for what it’s worth’, and it’s used to indicate that someone is giving their honest opinion on the situation or sharing a deep and personal thought of their own.

Times are changing!

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