With 845 separate icons, the diverse world of emoji is basically the greatest invention presented to the modern West since the wheel. This we all know. If you think about it, though, how many of these symbols do we ever really use in our daily conversations? 100? The twenty-one that get loaded into our “recently used” docks? Nay, dear readers, I argue that there are truly only nine emojis that we really, really need as iPhone users and humans. These nine emojis (or emoji pairings) sum up every emotion you could ever need to convey via tiny illustration, and they are presented here for your enlightenment and your viewing pleasure: the most important emojis. In. The. World.
1. The ND Football Emoji
While many of you will probably argue that this, as a pair of emojis, should technically be numbers one and two on this list, many of you are wrong. How many times, Saint Patrick’s Day excluded, have you used the shamrock emoji without also using the football? This pair accompanies all of your game day Instas, and it was repeated 70 times in your “WE’RE GOING TO THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP” tweet circa November 2012. It is the Notre Dame lifeblood of emojis. It is all you need.
2. This Guy
I’m going to make a bold statement here and say that there has never, in your life, been a time when you used this emoji because you were actually brought to tears by the force of your laughter. Should you doubt me on this, I would point you to the number of times you’ve actually laughed out loud while typing “LOL.” That said, though, this emoji is crucial. It serves literally the exact same purpose as an “LOL” or “hahaha,” but it also introduces an element of cartoon-faced cuteness that your words and acronyms can never convey. Did you find my text funny? You’d better tell me…with this.
3. The Dancing Queen
Have you ever been in a musical? Have you ever been to any country where Spanish is spoken? Have you ever gone out for the sole purpose of getting intoxicated and dancing until one or more of your limbs falls off? If yes, you have used this emoji. This little lady packs all the “I’m drunk” punch of the clinking beer glasses while still projecting that its user is a lady (or gay man) and a whole bundle of fun.
4. The Thrower of Shade
This emoji stands out as one of the few whose expression truly does mirror yours as you type it in. When using this emoji – to judge a friend for a romantic decision, to convey your innermost feelings about the head cold you’ve developed, to call someone out on their “#nofilter” – you are directing at its recipient a virtual and literal side-eye. This emoji is versatile, and it is sass-packed – just like you!
5. Confetti, Party of Two
This emoji pair means that it is your friend’s birthday. Without exception. And again, if you’re using these separately from each other, who even are you?
6. Whip My Hair/Brush Your Shoulders Girl
I’ve never been entirely sure what it is this girl is doing. Is she tossing her hair over her shoulder (and, in so doing, whipping her hair back and forth)? Is she (go ‘head) brushing that dirt off her shoulders? Is she giving a contented shrug? I can’t quite say. What I can say is that she puts forth an air of hair-centered confidence that works its way into my conversations at least once a day, every day.
7. The Crying Girl (Remember Her?)
Just as #2 portrays amusement, #4 disgust, and #6 confidence, this emoji conveys all of the tantrum-related emotions you could ever hope to feel. Are you sad? Are you angry? Are you in complete and utter despair? Do you have a hangnail? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this emoji is for you. You’ve got to have some emoji in your arsenal for the not-so-Whip Your Hair days, and, as we all know, this is the yellow, gender-neutral monarch of the sad-emoji kingdom.
8. The “PRAISE.”
This is another of those emojis broad enough to cover quite the wide and sometimes strange array of emotions. This emoji is perfect if you’re literally in church. It is perfect when you’re telling a friend you got that paper extension you tricked your professor into giving you. It’s reminiscent enough of a full-body bow to suit itself perfectly to a Man Crush Monday photo of Chuck Bass. It is praise, brought to (animated) life. It is truly the emoji of God.
9. The Hearts For Eyes
Now, I’ll admit – I debated for a long time whether to include this one on the list. It’s good, of course, but is the cat with hearts for eyes better? A convincing argument could be made for either one. Whether you prefer human or feline faces, though, it can’t be denied: the visage with hearts for eyes is the most important of all facially-based emojis. It is the proper response to a pre-dorm dance “all DoLLed uP” selfie. It is the only image to accompany any photo ever of baked goods. It could work in conversations with your boyfriend, I guess, if you’re kind of weird. It is the Emoji with Hearts for Eyes, and it is the most important emoji your iPhone will ever see.
Photo 1, all others provided by author