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The 'tears of joy' emoji was the most-used of 2021

The most-used emoji of 2021 was the "tears of joy" emoji, The New York Times reports, according to data from the Unicode Consortium. The red heart emoji came in at No.2.

Nine of the 10 most used emojis from 2019 — the last time the consortium released data — also ranked among this year's top 10, writes the Times. And notably, even with Gen Z recently deciding it uncool, the "tears of joy" icon triumphed.

"It speaks to how many people use emoji. If emoji were a purely Gen Z thing, then you wouldn't see it so highly ranked," Alexander Robertson, an emoji researcher at Google, told the Times regarding "tears of joy." "Because of the sheer number of people using emoji, even if one group thinks something is lame, they have to be a really big group to affect these statistics."

Notably, in what is perhaps a sign of the times, the syringe emoji jumped from 282nd place in 2019 to 193rd place in 2021, the Times reports. Usage of the microbe emoji also jumped from 1,086th place in 2019 to 477th this year. Still, neither of those emojis managed to crack the latest top 10.

"We did see a rise in the use of the virus emoji, but not in a way that even made it remotely into the most-commonly used emojis because we still had plenty to laugh about and plenty to cry about, whether it was because of the pandemic or not," said Lauren Gawne, senior lecturer in linguistics at Austrailia's La Trobe University.

Even with COVID, Gawne added, "we still spent a lot of time wishing each other happy birthday or checking in or laughing about some new and unexpected element of this slow-burning weirdness." Read more at The New York Times.