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The Loop

The least-used and loneliest emojis on Twitter

July 31, 2018
Portable device photo illustrations


Over in the Twitterverse, two things have become popular: posting hideously racist/sexist/homophobic tweets as a teenager and then developing into a major league pitcher, and using emojis. That second one makes sense because only 19% of Twitter is actual words; the rest of it is made up of froth-mouthed shrieking, Russian AI and famous people talking very enthusiastically about their preferred brand of face cream.

Yet these days everything is tracked, and for every exceedingly popular emoji — such as tears-of-joy-faces and sentient poops — there’s a sad counterpoint, an unloved, unwanted little icon moping down there in your keyboard tray, neglected. (There is even a Twitter account for the least-used emoji of the day, because of course there is.) As such, here are Twitter’s least-used emojis, as reported by Twitter and the BBC.


1. Picture of ABCD

What is it? The input symbol for “Latin capital letters,” which you only need if you’re tweeting grammatically accurate sentences to your high-school foreign language teachers. Related: Never tweet your high-school teachers.

How could we include it in everyday conversation? CAN’T. DEAD LANGUAGE. Emojis were invented basically to drive the nail in the coffin of old languages, so this one’s a lost cause.

2. Symbol for aerial tramway

What is it? This is the symbol for “aerial tramway,” which does not come up in conversation often, probably because everyone is terrified and measuring their altitude and obsessively listening for the deathly sounds of cables straining to their snapping points, unless that’s just me

How could we include it in everyday conversation? Happily, earlier this summer, numbers geek Nate Silver noted that the aerial tramway had been the least-popular emoji for a heartbreaking 75 days, and launched a Twitter campaign to restore its dignity. So now it’s only second-least.

3. Symbol for non-potable water

What is it? The symbol for “non-potable water,” which goes unused because people don’t usually tweet while standing in stagnant ponds, except Ashton Kutcher, of course

How could we include it in everyday conversation? Make literally all of our drinking water unsafe! Don’t worry, we’ve already started.

4. Input symbols for symbols

What is it? This is apparently the symbol for “input symbols for symbols,” which I think means we’re in the quantum realm?

How could we include it in everyday conversation? Look, we’re not sure how to include it in this conversation.

5. and 6. Input symbol for Latin small letter - Input symbol for Latin letters

What are they? These are, in order, the input symbol for Latin small letters and the input symbol for Latin letters, and definitive evidence that no one tweets in Latin anymore, except the Pope. That guy needs to step it up.

How could we include them in everyday conversation? Uh, first we’d have to learn Latin, and that sounds like a huge pain.

7. Symbol for passport control

What is it? The symbol for “passport control,” a term that’s distressingly vague. Do people often lose control of their own passports? Do customs officials tweet this at each other? Why is the passport the size of a copy of a restaurant menu? Why is this guy wearing a seatbelt? This emoji is a mess, and I’m angry that it only comes in at No. 7.

How could we include it in everyday conversation? Change the meaning of this emoji to “Train Conductor Reading a Magazine,” which probably happens all the time.

8. Symbol for mountain cableway

What is it? The symbol for “mountain cableway,” more evidence that Twitter use is very low among users on very tall mountains. Maybe the reception is terrible up there.

How could we include it in everyday conversation? If we’re going to do that, we might as well revive “aerial tramway” and kill two birds with one stone. Everyone! To Switzerland!

9. Do not litter symbol

What is it? The symbol for “Do not litter.” Also the symbol for “Do not drop grapefruit,” “Don’t juggle upside down” and “Do not operate three yo-yos concurrently.”

How could we include it in everyday conversation? Honestly, who doesn’t know this symbol? Some jerk points at it every time I drop my trash at the zoo.

10. Symbol for mountain railway

What the hell is it? This is the symbol for “mountain railway.” Also the symbol for “Murder on the Orient Express” and “Pullman car on the Island of Sodor.”

How could we include it in everyday conversation? We don’t. Clearly no one in any mountainous region on Earth has any use for Twitter, and we should all move to one at once.