Questions about heart emojis are very common, and this makes a lot of sense. No-one wants to be accused of giving the wrong impression, nor step over some kind of line of emoji familiarity.
Does the blue heart mean platonic love and the green heart represents jealousy? Is there a platonic heart in the mix? Can one of the red hearts be considered more 'male-appropriate' than another type of red heart, as asserted by John Mayer?
Just discovered a more male-appropriate heart emoji. ♥️. From the card suits. Not so ❤. 💋— John Mayer (@JohnMayer) April 7, 2017
We're here to tell you that there's no secret heart emoji code to crack.
Each heart has subtle nuances both in how it is used, and what that represents. Yet intrinstically each heart has no more coded meaning than what meets the eye.
As for whether John Mayer is right about about one of the red hearts being more masculine than the other? Let's see what the data tells us.
📊💟 Heart Popularity
While the heart emojis are popular all year around, they see a particular rise in use during the month of February.
Looking at 20 hearts, we see them here in order of popularity. Using data from Twitter, a wide disparity between the most used and least used heart emoji can be seen.
Above: Relative popularity of heart-based emojis across Twitter in 2020. Image: Emojipedia.
The least popular heart emoji is 🤎 Brown Heart.
- ❤️ Red Heart
- 💕 Two Hearts
- 💜 Purple Heart
- 💙 Blue Heart
- 💔 Broken Heart
- 💖 Sparkling Heart
- ♥️ Heart Suit
- 💗 Growing Heart
- 💛 Yellow Heart
- 💓 Beating Heart
- 💚 Green Heart
- 🤍 White Heart
- 🖤 Black Heart
- 💞 Revolving Hearts
- ❣️ Heart Exclamation
- 💘 Heart with Arrow
- 🧡 Orange Heart
- 💝 Heart with Ribbon
- 💟 Heart Decoration
- 🤎 Brown Heart
Other emojis that include hearts like 🥰 Smiling Face with Hearts, 😍 Smiling Face with Heart-Eyes and particularly 💏 Kiss and 💑 Couple with Heart? These all sufficiently complex in their own ways, and not included in this analysis.
What we want to focus on are the emojis which have the classic heart ideograph as the core design element.
💖💝 Group The Hearts
Grouping hearts based on color and valence, we find ourselves with four categories:
- Simple Red Hearts (❤️ Red Heart, ♥️ Heart Suit)
- Elaborated Hearts (e.g. 💖 Sparkling Heart, 💘 Heart with Arrow, 💝 Heart with Ribbon)
- Other Colored Hearts (e.g. 💜 Purple Heart, 💙 Blue Heart)
- Broken Heart (💔 Broken Heart)
It's worth noting that that each heart looks different on each platform. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.
Above: Cross-platform comparison of heart emojis. Image: Vendor designs / Emojipedia composite.
The main difference in appearance relates to whether the elaborated hearts are shown in pink, or red.
With this heart emoji background sorted, let's look at how the hearts are used.
Perhaps the best way to gain insight into how each of the hearts are used is to determine which emojis they are used with.
What we see is that Simple Red Hearts (❤️♥️) and Elaborated (often, but not always pink, i.e. 💕💞💓💗💖💘💝❣️) Hearts are commonly shown in the same tweets as various smileys, while Other Colored Hearts (🧡💛💚💙💜🖤🤍🤎) are more often used together.
Rather than just using inserting a Blue Heart, people will often use a a yellow, green and purple heart alongside it.
Above: What the heart emojis are used for can be implied by other emojis in the same tweets. Image: Apple designs / Emojipedia composite.
Some other trends come to light here. 🥺 Pleading Face is the most common emoji found alongside a heart emoji. This makes sense, as this emoji has become incredibly popular in the past few years. It might also imply that there's a lot of simps out there, filling up your mentions.
The heart emoji that has the least overlap in use with others? 💔 Broken Heart. It stands alone in sadness, often appearing with emojis unseen in the top matches for any other heart.
🚶 Person Walking takes on a sombre meaning when served up alongside a broken heart 🚶💔.
The chart above is shown using Apple emoji designs, which are displayed in most iOS and macOS apps. For users on Android or Windows, various other designs are shown. The individual emoji characters are shown below, which means they will appear using your device's native emoji font.
❤️ Red Heart: 🥺😭😍😂🥰🙏✨💕😘💙💋😊👩💛💜💚🔥☺️👍🤣
♥️ Heart Suit: 🥺😍😂✨😭🙏🥰😘🔥🌹💕💙❤️💓😔💜💛💋🙏🏻🖤
❣️ Heart Exclamation: ✨💕😊❤️🥰🥺💖😍💓😆☺️💗💞😭💝‼️🙏💦💘😋
💖 Sparkling Heart: 🥺💕✨😭💗💞💓💘🥰😍💝💜❤️💙😊💛😘💚🙏❣️
💕 Two Hearts: ✨🥺😭😊😍🥰💖😆☺️❤️💗💓💞🙏😘💘💦❣️💝👍
💗 Growing Heart: 🥺💕💖😭✨💞💓💘💜🥰💝💙💛😍❤️💚☺️😊🌸🙏
💓 Beating Heart: 🥺💞💕✨😭💖💗💘🥰☺️😍💝❤️😊🙏😆💜😌❣️😳
💞 Revolving Hearts: 💓💕💖🥺💗💘💝✨😭🥰😍❤️💜😘❣️🙏💙💛💚😊
💘 Heart with Arrow: 💖💕💞💗💓🥺💝😭😍❤️✨🥰💙💜💚💛❣️💟💋😘
💝 Heart with Ribbon: 💖💕💞💗💘💓❤️✨💜❣️💙💛🥺😍💚💟🥰🧡😘🖤
💟 Heart Decoration: 💕💖💞💗💝💓💘💜💙💚💛❤️😍❣️🧡🖤💌🥰🥺😘
💜 Purple Heart: 🥺💙😭💛💚✨❤️😍🧡💗💕💖🥰🖤😊🙏😘💓💞🦋
💙 Blue Heart: 💛💚💜🔥❤️👈💰💪🧡🥺😍⚡🛒👑🙏💗✨🌺🖤😭
💛 Yellow Heart: 💙💚💜❤️🧡🥺✨🖤💗💖😍💕😭🌻🥰🙏💓💞💘🤍
💚 Green Heart: 💙💛💜❤️🧡🥺💗💖🖤✨😍😭🤍💕🙏🥰💘🇸🇦💞💓
🧡 Orange Heart: 💙💛💜💚❤️🖤🥺✨💗💖💕💓🤍💞😭🥰😍💘💝🤎
🤍 White Heart: 🥺💙🖤✨💚❤️😭💜💛🧡🥰❕🙏🤎💗💖💕🦋💓☺️
🖤 Black Heart: ❤️💛🥺💙💜🤍💚🧡✨💗😍💖🔥💕🥰😭🙏♥️💞💓
🤎 Brown Heart: 🤍💛🧡💚💙💜🖤❤️💖🥺💗💕💓💞💘💝👇😢❣️✨
💔 Broken Heart: 😭😂😔🥺🙂😢🌚🤦😞😩🙏🚶☹️😹😪❤️😥🤦🏻😣🚶🏻
This immensely colorful grid gives us the big picture. You can almost feel what each heart represents by looking at which emojis it is used alongside.
If you're looking to find out how these hearts are used, this is a useful start.
But to really understand the meaning of each emoji, we need more specifics. It's in the details where each heart tells a story.
Red Heart ❤️
This heart appears in 8 of every 1,000 tweets throughout the year, appearing more than twice as often as 💕 Two Hearts, the next most popular heart emoji in our sample of tweets.
When looking at top 200 N-grams used alongside a sample of over 1.6 million English language tweets, we see a lot of terms one might expect to see alongside the most popular heart emoji across the globe. These include expressions of:
- Affection (e.g. "love"; "ily")
- Gratitude (e.g. "thank"; "thanks")
- Appreciation (e.g. "beautiful")
- Other positive emotional expression (e.g "happy"; "good"; "great")
Above: Words and phrases used alongside ❤️ Red Heart in English language tweets in 2020.
We can also see that ❤️ Red Heart is a popular emoji to place alongside birthday wishes ("birthday" is the 4th most common word to be used with this emoji).
Above: 20 emojis most likely to appear alongside a ❤️ Red Heart as compared to a general sample of tweets.
When looking at the top 10 emojis of 2020 (😂😭🥺🤣✨😍🙏🥰😊), nearly all are found alongside ❤️ Red Heart. Popular emojis are most commonly used in positive emotional contexts, and are frequently used in combination.
❤️ Red Heart must be considered the benchmark against which we should compare all other hearts.
Heart Suit ♥️
♥️ Heart Suit is intended to be represented in a very specific context: the red heart suit of French-suited playing cards. As such, it is generally displayed alongside the ♣️ Club Suit, ♦️ Diamond Suit and ♠️ Spade Suit on emoji keyboards and picker interfaces.
♥️ Heart Suit is shown in a separate part of the emoji keyboard on phones from Apple and Samsung, which might affect how often it is used.
This isn't the case on the Pixel and other Android devices using Gboard or the Android Messages app keyboard[^99]. For those phones, the ♥️ Heart Suit emoji can be found in two locations: once with the rest of the hearts, and it can also be found next to the card suits.
Above: ♥️ Heart Suit is in a different location away from the other hearts on most emoji keyboards. Left: Apple iPhone, Middle: Google Pixel (Android Messages Keyboard), Right: Samsung Galaxy. Photos: Jeremy Burge and Keith Broni / Emojipedia.
From a purely visual standpoint, ♥️ Heart Suit most closely resembles the ❤️ Red Heart across emoji vendor designs, often only distingushed by being a deeper shade of red, or with a matte appearance instead of a glossy design.
Above: the top 200 n-grams used alongside the ♥️ Heart Suit emoji in English language tweets in 2020.
Red Hearts Mean Romance 🌹💋 But Not Always ❤️♥️
This may not come as a surprise, but it does feel good to have data backing up those feelings.
Elaborated Hearts 💖💘💝 Go With Sparkles ✨
Often referred to as 'the pink hearts' (despite not being pink on all platforms), these feature some additional design flourish, be that a bow, some sparkles, or an additional heart.
💕 Two Hearts often has aesthetic uses; commenting on the contents of an image or other tweet ("art") or drawing attention to a call-to-action within a tweet ("discount", "code").
While it is well documented that emojis are used to express sentiment, they are frequently used to add a decorative element to messaging as well. This provides a playful artistry that would be absent from a message unless other forms of textual paralanguage are used.
TL;DR: sometimes it's as much about the ✨aesthetic✨ as it is the tone.
✨ Sparkles takes the top position for ❣️ Heart Exclamation, and is in the top 5 for three others (💖 Sparkling Heart, 💓 Beating Heart
and 💗 Growing Heart) and in the top 11 for three more (💞 Revolving Hearts, 💝 Heart with Ribbon, and 💘 Heart with Arrow).
Lots of charts here on 💖❣️💘💝💟. Scroll past if you care more about the colored hearts than this oddball collection of decorative hearts.
Above: 20 emojis most likely to appear alongside 💖 Sparkling Heart as compared to a general sample of tweets.
Above: 20 emojis most likely to appear alongside ❣️ Heart Exclamation as compared to a general sample of tweets.
Above: 20 emojis most likely to appear alongside 💘 Heart with Arrow as compared to a general sample of tweets.
Above: 20 emojis most likely to appear alongside 💝 Heart with Ribbon as compared to a general sample of tweets.
Above: 20 emojis most likely to appear alongside 💟 Heart Decoration as compared to a general sample of tweets.
As a whole, ✨ Sparkles appears is what makes this category of hearts distinct from others, such as the Colored Hearts.
Colored Hearts 💚💙💛
Eight heart emojis defined by having a color other than red. These are usually grouped together on the emoji keyboard.
Much of the mythology around the heart emoji meanings comes from this set. Is there truth to it?
Purple Heart 💜
This is the first heart which has one topic of conversation dominate its use on Twitter.
Not for any particular form of love, but for a certain Korean boy band.
The purple heart emoji is the third most popular heart on Twitter, according to our sample. No doubt assisted by millions of BTS fans.
Above: Top 200 n-grams used alongside 💜 Purple Heart emoji in English language tweets in 2020 show BTS a dominant topic.
Looking at the associated words, "love" "thank" and "happy birthday" are still the major uses of this emoji, but some of the most prominent references to BTS in purple-heart emoji tweets include:
- "BTS" (the #7 n-gram), of course referring to the band itself
- "Army" (#8 n-gram), referring the official name of the BTS fandom, the BTS A.R.M.Y.
- "Jimin" (#56 n-gram), referring to BTS member of the same name, as well as "Jungkook" (#71), "Taehyung" (#73), "Yoongi" (#99).
Above: Top 20 emojis most likely to appear alongside 💜 Purple Heart as compared to a general sample of tweets.
Purple Heart has more in common with Red Heart than Green Heart, where the overlap of emoji used drops to 71.5%.
Green Heart 💚
Above: Top 200 n-grams used alongside 💚 Green Heart emoji in English language tweets in 2020.
The sentiment behind the great heart emoji is similar to just about every other heart: affection, gratitude, and other positive expressions.
This can also be seen in the top 20 emojis used alongside 💚 Green Heart. A notable addition in this set is 🇸🇦 Flag: Saudi Arabia ranking the 18th most likely emoji to be found in tweets with a 💚 Green Heart.
Above: Top 20 emojis most likely to appear alongside 💚 Green Heart as compared to a general sample of tweets.
Yellow Heart 💛
In reviewing the top emojis for other color-based heart emojis, we can see a similar prominence of their colored heart siblings:
Above: Top 20 emojis most likely to appear alongside 💛 Yellow Heart as compared to a general sample of tweets.
Orange Heart 🧡
Orange Heart is a newer addition to the emoji keyboard than purple, green, and yellow. Added in 2017, this came nearly a decade after most hearts first appeared on platforms like iOS and Android.
The data backs up this claim, as the main reason people use the orange heart is simply to put it next to the blue, yellow, purple, green, and red hearts.
Above: Top 20 emojis most likely to appear alongside 🧡 Orange Heart as compared to a general sample of tweets.
Blue Heart 💙
💙 Blue Heart features the most unique selection of top 20 emojis in our analysis.
Turns out, it's the emoji brands love to use. Consider it the corporate heart emoji.
👈 Pointing Left is a prominent call-to-action emoji on Twitter, directing users towards a link. Other emojis unqiely seen alongside the 💙 Blue Heart give us a strong indication that this call-to-action is related to e-commerce: 💰 Money Bag, ⚡️ High Voltage (indicating a flash sale), and 🛒 Shopping Cart.
Could it be that brands want to include hearts, but are trying to stay as neutral as possible? The blue heart seems to have become the most inoffensive heart to use when selling wares.
The top n-grams alongside the 💙 Blue Heart also show a large focus on ecommerce. Selling stuff.
Once the usual "love", "thank you" and "happy birthday" are out of the way, we see "coupon", "promo", "discount" and "store", all in the top 40 n-grams associated with this emoji.
Black Heart 🖤
The black heart emoji is disappointingly similar in use to the other colored hearts.
Above: Top 20 emojis most likely to appear alongside a 🖤 Black Heart as compared to a general sample of tweets.
White Heart 🤍
What stands out about use of the 🤍 White Heart isn't the selection of emojis commonly found alongside it.
It's not even the top emoji match: 🥺 Pleading Face, which is the smiley most likely to be paired with just about any heart.
What's notable is how strongly aligned 🤍 and 🥺 are.
Above: the 20 emojis most likely to appear alongside a 🤍 White Heart as compared to a general sample of tweets.
Significant words here include "angel", "goodnight", "peace", and "remember", which when taken together echo paying tribute to someone that has passed away.
These phrases don't beat the usual stalwart of "love", "thank", "birthday", and "happy" are that appear with nearly all hearts, but rather they encapsulate a significant minority of usage cases.
Brown Heart 🤎
This is the least popular of all the hearts, though it's not without its own distinct uses.
Above: Top 20 emojis most likely to appear alongside a 🤎 Brown Heart as compared to a general sample of tweets.
While 81.5% of the top 200 terms for 🤎 Brown Heart are shared with ❤️ Red Heart, the differences mostly relate to discussions of racial identity ("black", "brown", "skin" and "color") and we also see phrases for food and drink, specifically "chocolate" and "coffee".
Broken Heart 💔
When considered collectively, the top emojis used alongside a broken heart give an impression of sadness (😔 Pensive Face, 😢 Crying Face, 😪 Sleepy Face), discomfort (😥 Sad but Relieved Face, 😣 Persevering Face), and awkwardness (😂 Face with Tears of Joy, 🙂 Slightly Smiling Face.
🌚 New Moon Face appears as a top-20 related emoji for the broken heart, and not any other.
Tell it to my Heart ❣️
Based on word and emoji associations, each heart has more in common than what sets them apart. Our findings do show the following distinctions.
- ❤️ Red Heart and ♥️ Heart Suit are the hearts most likely to be used in a flirtatious manner 💋🌹
- 💔 Broken Heart is used to convey sadness, discomfort, and awkwardness. It's the only heart that doesn't convey a positive sentiment.
- Hearts with various forms of adornment (e.g. 💖 Sparkling Heart and 💞 Revolving Hearts) are commonly used alongside ✨ Sparkles (and one another) for elaborate and ✨aesthetic✨ expressions of affection, appreciation and gratitude.
- 💜 Purple Heart is disproportionately used by the BTS A.R.M.Y fandom, with the 💚 Green Heart having similarly prominent usage amongst fans of NCT. 🇰🇷👨🎤🎶
- 💙 Blue Heart may be considered the most neutral heart, commonly used by brands for marketing on Twitter.
- 🤎 Brown Heart is commonly used to discuss topics related to racial identity 🧑🏽🧑🏾🧑🏿
- 🤍 White Heart is often used to discuss someone passing away ⚰️🌹
- If every heart could be summed up with a single smiley, it would be 🥺 Pleading Face. This is frequently used with every type of heart.
What this tells us is that there's no single way to use any heart emoji, and no guide can tell you otherwise.
Love who you want to love, and use whichever heart speaks to you. That's what everyone else is doing.
As noted in each of our charts, the figures presented in this analysis represent the figures represent the number of tweets containing at least one instance of each emoji. Tweets that contain multiple instances of the same emoji are only counted once in this sample. ↩︎
🫀 Anatomical Heart is so new there isn't enough useful data for this emoji. As well as this, two additional heart emojis aren't yet available on most iOS or Android devices, so are also not included in this analysis. These are ❤️🩹 Mending Heart and ❤️🔥 Heart on Fire. It will be at least 12-24 months before usable data is available to measure their impact in the emoji landscape. ↩︎
An N-Gram is a contiguous sequence of letters found in text data. The "N" refers the number of chracters (e.g letters, numbers, etc) presented alongside one another to construct a word, or indeed any other contiguous sequence of characters (such as multi-word hashtags commonly found on Twitter). A sequence of two chracters, such as the words "or" and "it", are known as "bigrams" ("two"-grams), while sequences of three letters such as "the" are known as "trigrams" ("three"-grams). ↩︎
Types of text paralanguage used online, such as the Mocking SpongeBob alternating capitalisation noted within our analysis of TikTok emoji usage, are discussed alongside emoji in internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch's book "Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language". Gretchen has appeared in an episode of Emojipedia's EmojiWrap podcast. ↩︎
😪 Sleepy Face is often used to convey sadness despite display a a blue snot bubble coming from its nose, as opposed to the tear featured on 😢 Crying Face. This is likely due to the diminutive display size of emojis across many of the platforms on which they are used. ↩︎