The New Emoji Added In 2019 Are Some Of The Most Diverse Yet

While emoji have been around since the late 1990s on Japanese keyboards, they went mainstream around the world in 2010 with Unicode 6.0. And, in most of the years since then, the Unicode Consortium (the organization that officially oversees them) has kept on adding more.

In its 2019 batch of new emoji (known as Emoji 12.0), Unicode approved more diverse people, places, and things. The release includes 59 new individual emoji—and if you take into account all of the gender and skin tone variations, 230 in total.

The Emoji 12.0 set is especially notable because it adds emoji for greater representation of accessibility and disability, including people who are blind or deaf. It also adds some of the most adorable animals on the planet, such as flamingos and sloths. And, for whatever reason, an underwear emoji.

In our excitement over Emoji 12.0, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite new emoji … although we are heartbroken that the humble gray squirrel still hasn’t made the cut.

Please note: These new emoji are becoming available across vendors and platforms through late 2019; until they are supported on your device, they may display as ☐.

flamingo emoji

We’re going to start with some of the fascinating critters released in 2019. We’re particularly thrilled about this “fiery” new addition: flamingo emoji, 🦩.

Flamingos are beautiful wading birds found in the tropical Americas, with two species found in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Their distinctive, pink hue comes from the bacteria and beta-carotene they get from the food they eat, including shrimp. The brighter the flamingo, the healthier the bird.

The name flamingo entered into English in the 1560s. It comes from Spanish and Portuguese names for the bird, flamengo. The names are ultimately rooted in the Latin flama (“flame”), though it’s traditionally said to be in reference to the Flemings, a people in modern-day Belgium historically known for their ruddy complexion, apparently.

As might be expected, the flamingo emoji 🦩 depicts the pink, long-necked bird. Current versions show the flamingo standing with one leg tucked up, as is its habit, although biologists don’t completely understand why the birds do this.

As the flamingo emoji becomes more widely available, expect to see the flamingo emoji in posts about trips to tropical locations, particularly Florida, which is known for its flamingos.

sloth emoji

Slow down to appreciate this new emoji: the sloth!

Sloths are shaggy creatures found in the forests of South and Central America. The word sloth in English is attested by the 12th century for “sluggishness” and “laziness.” It’s an old noun form of slow. Just as long became length or true became truth, slow became … sloth!

In the Christian tradition, sloth is considered one of the seven deadly sins. Sloth became the name for the animal by the 1600s.

Being slow is what sloths are best known for. Sloths spend most of their time hanging around in trees in the rainforest, eating. Not too shabby.

Appropriately enough, the tail-less, big-eyed sloth is (so far) depicted hanging from a tree branch in the sloth emoji, 🦥. Sloths have historically symbolized laziness, so expect to see it in social media posts about taking it easy.

skunk emoji

Unless you’re dying to take a bath in tomato juice, you really don’t want to tick off this emoji. Behold the skunk emoji, 🦨.

Skunks are native to North and South America. The name skunk comes from an Americanization of Algonquian roots meaning “to urinate” and “fox” …. Skunks, of course, are known for the stinky liquid they spray when they feel threatened by a predator.

While we are familiar with skunks as black and white in color, they can also come in browns, creams, and gingers. The skunk emoji 🦨, however, is depicted in current versions as a black critter with a white stripe and curved tail.

So far, people are using the skunk emoji 🦨 to illustrate bad (think smelly) behavior or as a sign that something is outrageous. Fans of skunks have also used the skunk emoji 🦨 to share their passion for the much-maligned mammal.

drop of blood (or period) emoji

Emoji 12.0 is more inclusive of different people’s experiences, especially when it comes to gender, sexuality, and ability. One example of this inclusion is the drop of blood emoji, 🩸, sometimes known as the period emoji.

In many countries and cultures around the world, menstruation—getting your period—is considered shameful. In an attempt to reduce the stigma around periods—and make them easier to talk about—the non-profit Plan International UK advocated in a hashtag campaign for a “#periodemoji” from 2017–2019. They started a petition and asked supporters to vote for their favorite period emoji design. Users actually voted for the underwear with blood droplet design, but it was rejected by the Unicode consortium (guess they’re not that progressive).

So, Plan International came up with a Plan B. They partnered with the National Health Service (NHS) Blood and Transplant services in the UK to develop the drop of blood emoji 🩸 instead. That way, it can be used, in theory, to represent menstruation as well as blood donation, transfers, and other blood-related topics.

The drop of blood emoji 🩸 shows a red drop of blood, like a red water drop.

WATCH: The Story Behind The Blood Drop Emoji

person with probing cane emoji

People who are blind or visually impaired have used canes since ancient times to help them navigate. But, the white cane became standard after World War I in most of the Western world. Today, it is considered a widely recognized indication that someone is blind or has trouble seeing.

In 2019, a host of emoji representing different disabilities were added to the emoji dictionary, including guide dogs 🦮 and people in wheelchairs 👩‍🦽. Among these was the classic white cane 🦯, also known as the probing cane emoji.

When the probing cane emoji is paired with the man emoji 👨 or woman emoji 👩‍, it becomes man with probing cane emoji or woman with probing cane emoji. Like many human emoji, these emoji by default show yellow people with light-colored hair, but different skin tones are available.

Person with probing cane emoji is part of the move to include more representation of a variety of people, including people with disabilities, in emoji form. There’s plenty of room for everyone to have an emoji that depicts them.

kneeling person emoji

The kneeling person emoji 🧎 shows a person in profile, usually in jeans and a t-shirt, resting on their knees with their hands on their lap.

In its implementations so far, the kneeling person emoji 🧎 is by default gender-neutral or a man. When joined with the female sign emoji ♀️, the kneeling person emoji shows a woman kneeling.

In all iterations, the kneeling person emoji 🧎 is wearing blue pants. T-shirt color varies, with the male version wearing green and the woman, purple. The emoji is available in skin tones from light to dark.

The kneeling person emoji 🧎 was especially designed to represent prayer, displays of respect, or a person resting.

ice cube emoji

The Emoji 12.0 dictionary includes new representations of food and drink, including garlic, onion, and butter … for all those times you’re texting a grocery list entirely in emoji, of course.

And now, if you fancy some ice in your tumbler glass emoji 🥃, you can add the ice cube emoji, 🧊, which depicts a bluish-gray cube of frozen water.

The ice cube emoji 🧊 may be used alongside fruit emoji or beverage emoji to reference nice, cold drinks—iced coffee, iced tea, and stiffer drinks, too. The ice cube emoji 🧊 is also used in reference to all things cool, both literally (like the weather) and figuratively (like rapper and actor Ice Cube).

oyster emoji

Oyster is the name we give to a number of salt-water, bivalve mollusks that live in calcified shells in the ocean. Via French and Latin, the word oyster 🦪 ultimately goes back to the same Greek root (concerning “bone”) that yields the prefix osteo- and verb ostracize.

Oysters have long been prized by humans both for their meat and for their pearls. In some instances, oyster shells are also prized for their lovely, luminescent color.

The oyster emoji 🦪, in its releases so far, generally shows an open white or gray oyster shell with yellowish flesh and a small pearl in it. It may be used of content concerning oyster as food, such as pics of fine dining. It may also be used to represent pearls, as a precious object.

Just as the eggplant emoji 🍆 became repurposed for male genitalia, some think the oyster emoji 🦪 (due to what its appearance suggest to them) may be taken up for the female counterpart … you’ve been warned.

parachute emoji

Some of the new emoji may seem totally random, such as the parachute emoji, 🪂. But, as Sam Holmes convinced Unicode in his proposal, it has many applications: “parachute, paragliding, skydiving, parasailing, paramotoring, kiteboarding, paratrooper, ejection seat, supply drop, base jumping.”

In versions released so far, the parachute emoji shows a small human figure floating down on a variously colored parachute. While there are a variety parachutes used in canopy sports, you can bet that this emoji will see, as Sam Holmes noted, metaphorical uses such “as a crafty escape from an unpleasant situation or being a dare devil” (e.g., “I’m getting out of here 🪂”).

ringed planet emoji

The ringed planet emoji, 🪐, resembles Saturn … though it’s far from the only planet that boasts rings in the universe, including in our own solar system.

Saturn is a gas giant orbited by rings of ice and dust about 30 feet thick. It’s one of the most beautiful—and distinct-looking—planets in the solar system, so it’s not surprising that it represents planets.

The ringed planet emoji 🪐 can be used to represent astronomy and space in general. Also look out for astrology enthusiasts using it when describing their star charts—particularly the Saturn return, when Saturn returns to where it was in the sky when you were born.

Oh, and of course the ringed planet emoji 🪐 comes in handy when describing something as “out of this world”—fitting for this diverse and exciting class of new emoji.

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