Technology Weirdness

10 most bizarre Whatsapp smileys and what they actually mean

Every day, we use smileys in our daily conversations on Whatsapp (or LINE or KAKAOTalk or WeChat or whatever else damn kids have hopped on to). As we scroll through the seemingly randomly grouped lists of smileys, we barely notice that alot of them don’t seem to make alot of sense. In fact, you’ll likely come to realize that their choices are really quite bizarre – there are 746 icons in whatsapp, and even the most adventurous and animated of us would use less than 5% of that.

The truth is, they’re not smileys at all – they’re EMOJIs (in fact, very few of them are actually smiling). How’s that different from a smiley/ emoticon? Well emoticons are like :), in other words, without the special effects. Emojis, on the other hand are actually preset pictures that come in a gallery, and were started by the biggest telcos in Japan, each having a different range of ‘smileys’ available to their various customers, way back since 1995. Today however, with everyone’s seeming need to outdo each other in making beautiful conversation, emojis have become a worldwide phenomenon.

However, Japanese being their Japo-best… there are a few emojis that require some further explanation. Luckily, you guys have us to do the legwork.

10. water-closet

Anyone who’s ever been to Europe will know what this one is. It’s the most standard sign for a toilet. And it’s one of those things you think “Ohhhhh… that’s what it means!”, and then perhaps a few weeks later you think… wait. What the heck does WC stand for?

Water Closet. In a nutshell, Cary Cyn tells us that it was originally the outhouse. When it was moved indoors, it wasn’t big enough to be a room – thus it became a closet.

9. Kanji/chinese Icons

Now that you know the wheres and whys of emojis, this won’t seem so surprising that there are a bunch of kanji symbols thrown in there. There are even some Chinese symbols thrown in there for good measure. Here’s what they mean.

squared fingerpoint

This one means a finger or toe pointing at something.


rounded-bargainSign often seen in Japanese retail outlets, indicating a GOOD BARGAIN!


squared katanakoko

Rather unusually, this is the only katakana (the other form of japanese characters aside from the kanji), indicating Koko or here.

squared workThis is the Japanese word for work, but is commonly used to indicate business opening hours.


squared ownThe chinese character for possess.


squared-empty This one might actually be useful. It means empty and available, usually referring to a vacant lot or hotel room, but useful for indicating that you’re open for casual relationships maybe?


This is the opposite of the previous one – indicating full, in the same context.


squared-cutpricePretty similar in meaning, indicating cut-price  in Japanese.


squared-agreementAnd this one mean’s agreement, in Kanji.



This means forbid in chinese, or no entry. Useful if you’re not interested in an empty or vacant relationship.


squared-lackAnd this one means non-existent or lacking. Or as we like to say… “No stock..”


squared-clsquared-sos8. Heh.SOS is pretty obvious, but CL is the real mystery here. In fact, scouring the entire internet, we can’t for the life of us figure out what the hell it means. The closest we got is that perhaps it’s a garment label to indicate that a shirt is bleachable (CL is the chemical short of Chlorine).

WAHLAU. CILISOS turned magenta!? Actually you might really wanna know why ;)


The other possible explanation we found on some emoji sites was that it’s the CLEAR TEXT button for phones.

gua-pi-mao7. To be honest, the most mysterious thing about this is its colour. The hat is actually called a Gua Pi Mao, a traditional Chinese hat worn by men during the Qing Dynasty. However, green wasn’t really one of the commonly found colours, which somehow made this little guy look Mongolian.


Search for “green Gua Pi Mao” and this is what you get.

them chinese are whack

running-shirt-with-sash6. Even emojipedia is totally perplexed by this one. They call it a “running shirt with sash for some reason”. Why there would be a sash on anyone’s running shirt is anyone’s guess.




pine-decoration.png.pagespeed.ic.BltNQvjCsu5. The Hentai Tentacle Seeing as how emoji’s were created by the Japanese, it’s totally logical to see a hentai tentacle somewhere in there. It’s actually the first icon in the Places tab, but unfortunately it’s actually a good representation of a Kadomatsu , a pine-tree decoration that Japanese give out during Chinese new year. Kinda like our hook bamboo trees.



name-badge4. Now this apparently, is a nametag. Why it would be in the shape of a fireball is as much your guess as ours. We can only theorize that the inhabitants from the land of the rising sun like to see their names surrounded by a thick fireball.

Kinda makes us wanna change our names were ‘Hadouken Lau’, ‘Bowser bin Azri’ and ‘Dragonball Tze’.


ja credit-card ja card-index3. The Mysterious John Appleseed (Credit Card and  Ticket stub)

Another oddity upon zoom are the Credit Card, Rolodeck and notebook icons, all of which carry the same mysterious name – John Appleseed. So who is this guy?

According to Mactrast, the origins were from Apple, where his name was used in all product demos, as a homage to Mike Markkula, former CEO of Apple who used the same alias when

ja orange-book

ja blue-book

publishing software.

However, how it ended up as a standard emoji across all phones on all devices is a mystery to us, despite Apple conquering Japan in recent years.

white-flower2. White Flower

Looking like flower sketched in red pencils, this one also had secrets to reveal once zoomed in. The sketch marks are actually Japanese characters saying “tai hen yoku dekimashita”, which roughly translates into “You did VERY well”. It’s a common stamp given by teachers to their students for top scoring results.



love-hotel lovechurch1. Love Hotel and Love church?

And these two – one kind of giving very weird indications to the second. The first one with the capital H we thought was a hospital… with A LOT of super-caring nurses. Turns out the H stands for Hotel, which now makes a lot more sense as one of Japan’s trademark love hotels.

SO, what does that make the second icon? Yes, a Love Church. Which, by itself sounds fine, but a LOVE CHURCH next to a Love Hotel – makes us think of these guys.

Big thanks to the people at and for doing alot of the legwork for us.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below and we might include it, together with a credit for you!





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