In our Emojiology series so far, we’ve clarified the confusion of 😪 Sleepy Face, reconciled the conflicts of 😭 Loudly Crying Face, and unpacked the complexities of 😏 Smirking Face and 😬 Grimacing Face. But emojis, lest we forget, aren't all trouble and strife. They are fun and playful, too, like this bouncy buckaroo: 🤠.
So, giddy-up! This Emojiology is going out on the range of the 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face emoji.
Depicting a smiley wearing a cowboy hat, 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face marks a wide range of content in country and Western culture, from music and movies to rodeos and ranching to Texas and El Norte. Thanks to the cowboy hat's popular associations with "yee-haw" exuberance and Wild West sheriffs, the emoji can also express whimsy, confidence, or adventure.
Called Face With Cowboy Hat by the Unicode Standard, 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face was approved under Unicode 9.0 in 2016, debuting with other expressive faces such as 🤣 Rolling on the Floor Laughing, 🤢 Nauseated Face, and the equal parts cheeky and creepy 🤡 Clown Face.
Above: Differences in the Cowboy Hat Face emoji across platforms come down to the style of smile and the hat. Google's hat, for instance, calls up Indiana Jones's fedora.
Across platforms, 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face features a grinning face sporting a high-crowned, wide-brimmed, brown-leather cowboy hat, suggesting the iconic Stetson of the 19th-century American frontier—though, for some, it doubles as the thrill-weathered fedora of Indiana Jones. Several vendors, including Apple, Samsung, and WhatsApp, repurpose for its face their 😃 Grinning Face With Big Eyes. Consistent with other changes in recent years, Google and Samsung have fashioned their 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face to more closely resemble Apple's design, shading the hat from a softer tan to a nuttier brown.
Above: For their Cowboy Hat Face emoji, major vendors like Apple (left) and Samsung (right) have simply put a cowboy hat on their Grinning Face With Big Eyes emoji.
It didn't take long for the root-tootin', sassafrasin', lassoin' 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face to capture the internet's imagination. Two notable memes emerged in summer 2017. The first was Twitter's Emoji Sherriff, the brainchild of comedian Brandon Wardell. In June 2017, Wardell tweet-constructed a sheriff whose head was the 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face, hands were the trigger-ready 👇 Backhand Index Pointing Down, feet were the cowboy boot-esque 👢 Woman's Boot, and whose body was 💯 Hundred Points. He captioned his creation (warning, adult content ahead): "Howdy, I'm the sheriff of sucking you off. im gon suck u off."
⠀ ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ 🤠— Brandon Wardell (@BRANDONWARDELL) June 8, 2017
💯 💯 💯
👇🏽 💯💯 👇🏽
howdy. im the sheriff of suckin u off. im gon suck u off
Wardell's absurd figure spawned counteless spin-offs on Twitter, with its body and bailiwick swapped out for other emoji. Some takes were just silly, others satirical, and yet others meta, snidely commenting on the state of emojis and memes themselves. That July, the meme even inspired an emoji bot, @emoji_sheriff, which cycles through the full lexicon of emojis for its law-enforcers.
⠀⠀ ⠀ 🤠— Evan Jenkins 🚫🚗 (@ejenk) July 10, 2017
🚴🏼♀️ 🌇 🚈
👇🏽 💰🚶🏿 👇🏽
howdy. im the #bancars sheriff. im here to crush your car into a cube.
howdy we're the sheriff of tasty snacks is this still a meme are we doing it right please advise— Dunkin' Donuts (@dunkindonuts) July 2, 2018
🍩 🍩 🍩
👇🏽 🍟🍟 👇🏽
⠀ ⠀ 🤠— emoji sheriff (@emoji_sheriff) July 7, 2018
🔓 🔓 🔓
🔓 🔓 🔓
👇 🔓🔓 👇
Howdy! I'm the open lock sheriff!
July 2017 also saw the Sad Cowboy Emoji. A clever Facebooker built a "howdy family," photoshopping 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face's headwear onto other emoji, including 😡 Pouting Face, 🤔 Thinking Face, 😏 Smirking Face, and 😔 Penisve Face.
Like a sad, she-left-me-but-the-bottle-didn't country ballad, the 😔 Penisve Face version especially resonated online. Later in 2017 and early 2018, a few tweeters memorably used the image, by then nicknamed Sad Cowboy Emoji, to make some humourous observations for when you're feeling like you've been knocked out of the saddle.
they always say yee haw— 𝓹𝓲𝓷𝓪𝓻 (@pienar) October 20, 2017
they never ask haw yee https://t.co/RQtJfyQJYJ
For all the virality of 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face, though, its greatest success lies in its creativity and personality.
🤠 Cowboy Hat Face sees widespread use, of course, for all things more literally associated with cowboys, from Toby Keith to the Calgary Stampede, but users often stage colorful emoji hoedowns to do so. They paint evocative secnes by pairing 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face with the 🌵 Cactus, 🐎 Horse, 🐄 Cow, 🌽 Ear of Corn, 🔫 Pistol, and 🌇 Sunset emojis, among others.
But, true to its name, 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face all comes down to that hat. Hats are fun. Hats are irreverent. Hats are performative. As costumes, they let us escape ourselves and play at other characters. As symbols, they confer on us authorities – think of the power of a crown. Make that hat a cowboy's ten-gallon top and cap it on a big, eager smile, and the 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face lends itself to all sorts of idiosyncratic expressions, from the goofy cheer of a paint-the-town-red yee-haw to a gritty sort of take-charge, like a lone-star sheriff.
Let's try to herd together, here, some of the many ways people use the 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face.
Fans of country music, cowboy boots, rodeos, horseback riding, and other staples of country-western life love 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face.
It turns out 7th July is a good day for country music 🤠🎸🎤 last year we saw @theshiresuk and today me and the children are going to see @Jeannine_Barry and @wardthomasmusic 👍🏻🤠 pic.twitter.com/vYf2trrook— Lee (@Official_LeeA) July 7, 2018
some might say I’m out of my element 🤠👢 pic.twitter.com/yJAQjbevP1— 𝐎𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐚 𝐉𝐚𝐝𝐞 (@yourbffliv) June 15, 2018
YEE-HAW! 🤠🌵Get ready for the first-ever Edmonton First Responders Rodeo! All proceeds go towards the Zebra Child Protection Centre and TEMA in order to support kids and First Responders in our community. #EFRRA2018 pic.twitter.com/8rGUD6SdoO— Zebra Centre (@ZebraCentre) July 6, 2018
So do fans of the western-themed sports teams like the Dallas Cowboys or Oklahoma State University Cowboys and Cowgirls.
🤠 Cowboy Hat Face has strong regional identity, especially embraced by Texas. But much of cowboy culture is owed to the vaqueros of Northern Mexico, where many people sport the 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face with pride.
I wanna wake up in Texas 🤠— hieds (@heidycarolyn) July 6, 2018
I miss those wide open skies 🌅
I miss my 20 acres 🏕, bar-b-ques 🍖
And pecan pies, oh why? 🥧
When I’m so far from you Texas, 🇺🇸
all I can do is cry 🐿😭 pic.twitter.com/4zMOyPMJPm
🤠 Cowboy Hat Face also has a national identity, with many at home, and more stereotypically abroad, associating the rugged individualism of the U. S. of A.
Happy 4th y’all 🤠🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/PxoP6jO6Eu— Jai 🌵🌶🌻 (@its_jai19) July 4, 2018
Cowboys loom large in the popular imagination, too, especially as romanticized on the screen or stage. Enter 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face.
🤠 Cowboy Hat Face hasn't forgotten its roots, though, still punctuating posts about actual cattle-ranching, agriculture, and rural living.
Pentecost Ranch just got a whole lot bigger! 👏🤠🐂 it's now 5,000 acres with nearly 1,000 cattle! Of course we had to explore!!! #ThePentecosts— Kami Pentecost (@KamiPentecost) July 1, 2018
When 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face is done working, he knows how to unwind, apparently, marking hunky dudes and making sexual puns, i.e., "riding" and a little bedroom maneuver called the "Reverse Cowgirl."
@.SCRiPTEDEUNBi swings lasso. YEEEHAW 🤠🐴 pic.twitter.com/ntn81YMjOQ— 𝔬𝔡𝔡 𝔢𝔶𝔢 (@taehyungieftw) July 5, 2018
All I want in life is a country girl that can ride me like she rides her horse 🤠🐴— Esteban Alanis (@estebaby) July 7, 2018
Some instances of 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face channel the can-do spirit of the cowboy or its cowboy-hat-donning kin, the Old West sheriff, for when they're feeling tough, empowered, "like a boss."
Others channel simply channel the fun of the 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face Face's smile and hat for a little, giddy-up whimsy. Because hats and cowboys!
Mane I’m so happy i released girasoul man. Keep listening to these songs and i get inspired. Next wave is going to be something serious. 🤠🐤🐴 pic.twitter.com/OyNO0fI7qc— Pell (@PELLYEAH) July 1, 2018
Yesterday was not the best day for Team Atlantis at #PGI2018 🤔😑 But we know you tried your best @wltrPUBG @DaCrazyCageMan @rolezeh @Grubsi13 👍Last games starting in couple of hours ⏰ You can still go out all guns blazing boys 🔫🤠🔫— Atlantis (@Team_Atlantis) July 1, 2018
Finally, yet others don't see a cowboy 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face at all. They see the whip-slinging archaeologist Indiana Jones, and use 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face to convey a sense of exploration, daring, and adventure—and another dash of whimsy for good measure.
As the examples make clear, 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face has quite the range. If you want to add some country flair of Western waggishness to your texts or social media posts, he's your guy. And unlike a semantically moodier 😏 Smirking Face or 😬 Grimacing Face, we might say 🤠 Cowboy Hat Face is a pretty, er, straight shooter. 🤠🐎🌇