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November 17, 2015

Oxford Dictionary chooses an emoji as Word of the Year

'Face with Tears of Joy' beats out 'on fleek,' 'lumbersexual' and 'refugee'

Language Emojis
03162015_NCAAEmojis Julia Heffernan/Washington Post Screenshot

Who uses words to talk these days anyway?

The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year may make some people cry tears of laughter. Or frustration.

That's because the Word of the Year is πŸ˜‚.

Not sure how to pronounce it? It's an emoji, the lingua franca of the Twittersphere, and the official description is "Face with Tears of Joy."

The dictionary company decided that πŸ˜‚ "best reflected the ethos, mood and preoccupations of 2015."

It's the most widely used emoji in the world, making up 17 percent of all emojis used in the United States (although a lot of that could be attributed to your one friend who always posts something like "LOL THIS CAT PIC πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚").

πŸ˜‚ beat out eight other terms on the Word of the Year shortlist, including the word "refugee." Perhaps it is a sign of hope that a joyful, laughing face was chosen over a word associated with tragedy.

The runners-up were "ad blocker," "Brexit," "Dark Web," "on fleek," "lumbersexual," "sharing economy" and "they" when it is used as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun. For those confused by the new lingo, Oxford has the definitions here.