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Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year is not a word at all. It's this emoji.

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 9:09 IST

For the first time, an emoji, commonly known as 'Face with Tears of Joy', is Oxford Dictionaries' "Word" of the Year for 2015.

Every year, Oxford Dictionaries pick a word to reflect the year in language. This year however, a pictograph, the 'Face with Tears of Joy' emoji, beat words like on fleek, d blocker, Dark Web, and lumbersexual to claim the coveted title.

The team reviews prospects for the word and argues on its merits and demerits before eventually choosing one that captures the "ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year", reports The Times of India.

Not only is this a first for the world's most popular dictionary, but the move also reflects the steady increase in the popularity of emoji across the world in 2015.

Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries, says: "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 emojis 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."

What the numbers reveal

Oxford University and SwiftKey, responsible for the input method for Android and iOS devices, partnered to find out the frequency and usage statistics for some of the most popular emojis around the world.

As you may have guessed, 'Face with Tears of Joy' was a clear winner.

According to SwiftKey's research, 'Face with Tears of Joy' was the most predominantly used emoji worldwide in 2015.

The Times of India reported that the "character comprised 20 per cent of all emoji used in the UK in 2015, and 17 per cent of all emoji used in the US. This compared to 4 per cent and 9 per cent respectively in 2014. In the US the next most popular emoji was 'Face Throwing a Kiss,' comprising 9 per cent of all usage".

In a blog, Oxford Dictionaries explains, "Emojis are no longer the preserve of texting teens - instead, they have been embraced as a nuanced form of expression, and one which can cross language barriers. Even Hillary Clinton solicited feedback in the form of emojis, and ' Face with Tears of Joy' has had notable use from celebrities and brands alongside everyone else - and even appeared as the caption to the Vine which apparently kicked off the popularity of the term on fleek, which appears on our WOTY shortlist."

First published: 17 November 2015, 2:37 IST