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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Top 10 least-loved emojis

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

I love emoji. But some emojis are more equal than others. I’d wager that there are 100 really popular emojis, and maybe 300 moderately popular ones. Every now and then, while flipping through my iPad emoji keyboard, I would find a symbol that would make me do a double-take and ask myself, “Why is this an emoji?”

There are now around a thousand base emojis and tens of thousands of variations. One day, in a dark mood, I wondered: What are the least-loved emojis? I checked out the live stats on and asked Jeremy Burge of Emojipedia for his site’s least-favorite emojis. The result is this list: The world’s least-loved emojis.

First, some ground rules

I didn’t include flags, clocks, signs, or keycaps. Some of the world’s least popular emojis are Asian-language symbols on square keycaps, flags of small countries, signs, and various positions of clock hands. I’m going to count those out and focus on the purely illustrative emojis.

This does eliminate some of my favorite oddball symbols, such as Clock Face Ten Thirty, Passport Control, Keycap Asterisk, No Bicycles, Non-Potable Water, and Baggage Claim.

10. Pager

Pager is the perfect ironic emoji! It symbolizes a technology that is made obsolete at the very moment that the emoji for it was created.

(For you kids out there, a pager was a little device you carried around with you in the days before cellphones that could receive text or numeric messages from other people.)

9. Lock with Ink Pen

From the “what-were-they-thinking” department comes Lock with Ink Pen. Locks are good. Ink pens are good. So why are they together? Emojipedia speculates that it was meant to relate to cryptographic key signing in some way. This emoji feels like it escaped from the toolbar of Adobe Acrobat circa 1996.

8. Oncoming Taxi

An addition to the Unicode standard from 2010, the Oncoming Taxi might be the last thing you see before you die, but hopefully not. There’s already a Taxi emoji, and I suspect it gets most of the love, leaving the Oncoming Taxi cold and alone, stranded in a New York snowstorm.

7. Light Rail

Many of the least popular emojis are transportation related. I have a few theories. First off, there’s a glut of different options, so there’s serious emoji dilution going on. Second, if emoji is about communicating, you may end up picking your platform’s most obvious image for a train when you’re telling a loved one you’re on your way. Or maybe people just aren’t that enthusiastic about taking the train.

Anyway, Light Rail may be a great way to get around town, but people don’t seem to love it as an emoji. (And no, Light Rail is not a Tram.)

6. Card Index

Another emoji detailing a real-world object made obsolete by the technology that brought us emojis, the Card Index is what we used to keep track of business contacts before we used computers and cellphones to do that. If you’ve ever heard an older person refer to their metaphorical Rolodex, well, that’s this.

5. Monorail

You might know it from Disneyland or that episode of “The Simpsons”, but the Monorail also has its own emoji. Monorails are totally different from most trains because they run on a single track. They glide as softly as a cloud, but they’re still trains.

4. Open Mailbox with Lowered Flag

There are four different emojis for mailboxes, so the box can be open or closed and the flag can be raised or lowered. Why this is the case may remain a mystery forever. In any event, the Open Mailbox with Lowered Flag seems to be the least loved of all four options, though Closed Mailbox with Raised Flag just missed making my list.

Why is the mailbox open if the flag is lowered? Does that mean someone stole the mail? Now I’m worried.

3. Aerial Tramway

Who doesn’t like an Aerial Tramway? It can take you up the side of a mountain or to the far side of the zoo. I guess that’s a pretty specific use case, come to think of it. The next time I take one of these, I promise to tweet this emoji.

2. Mountain Cableway

Wait, there’s also a Mountain Cableway? Talk about slight differences watering down the popularity of emojis. Apparently a Mountain Cableway is different from an Aerial Tramway because it’s… bigger? I’m confused now.

1. Suspension Railway

The Suspension Railway is all the least popular transportation things, melded into one! It’s suspended from the top, like the Aerial Tramway and Mountain Cableway. It’s a light railroad, like the Light Rail. It’s on a single track, like the Monorail! And… it’s not particularly loved by anyone.

They’ll probably never die

So will the Pager and the Card Index one day be hidden from view? It’s possible, though right now the Unicode Consortium doesn’t even have a method by which it could declare some emojis as irrelevant or abandoned.

The platform owners could be influential here. In the past few years, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Twitter and others have rushed to support All The Emojis. But it’s possible that, as the number of emoji options grows, they might prune back support for less popular symbols, relegating them to a back page or even removing them from their emoji keyboards altogether.

What I’m saying is, if you’re riding a monorail past an open mailbox, you know what to do.

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