Oxford Dictionaries has set a new precedent for its word of the year 2015 after judges chose a non-alphabetical symbol for the first time with an emoji.
Eschewing more traditional frontrunners such as ‘Brexit’, ‘refugee’ and ‘ad blocker’ the wordsmiths plumped for the tears of joy smiley face emoticon instead, a symbol which has become synonymous with text messaging over the past year.
Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries, said: “You can see how traditional alphabet scripts have been struggling to meet the rapid-fire, visually focused demands of 21st century communication.
“It's not surprising that a pictographic script like emoji has stepped in to fill those gaps - it's flexible, immediate, and infuses tone beautifully. As a result emoji are becoming an increasingly rich form of communication, one that transcends linguistic borders.
“When Andy Murray tweeted out his wedding itinerary entirely in emoji, for example, he shared a subtle mix of his feelings about the day directly with fans around the world. It was highly effective in expressing his emotions.”
It’s been a great year for the tears of joy emoji with its usage having grown four-fold over the past year in Britain to account for a fifth of all emojis sent after it became the most widely used icon in the world last year, according to research by Oxford University Press and SwiftKey.