For the first time ever, the Oxford Dictionaries word of the year isn't really a word at all—it's a pictograph, better known as the "Face With Tears of Joy" emoji.
The dictionary made the move to reflect a growing trend of communicating using little pictures—a pair of dancing girls to indicate friendship, a diamond ring to celebrate an engagement, and the long anticipated taco to depict what's for lunch.
"Emojis have been a staple of teen texting culture for years, but it was really over the last 12 months that we saw Emoji culture explode into the mainstream," Casper Grathwohl, the president of Oxford Dictionaries, said in a video statement. "As a 21st century culture, we've become so visually driven, emotionally expressive, but also obsessively immediate... and traditional alphabet language has a hard time keeping up and adapting to our needs here."
Together with Swiftkey, a mobile tecnology business, Oxford Dictionaries examined the frequency and usage of emoji globally. The "Face With Tears of Joy" was selected as the 2015 word of the year, because it was the most commonly used emoji, making up 20 percent of all the emojis used in the United Kingdom in 2015 and 17 percent of those in the United States.
"The fact that this is sent out more than any other emoji, I think, says something about the disposition of the digital world and the hopefulness of the digital world... and the way in which we communicate with each other in an underlying way that is motivational and positive," Grathwohl said.
One caveat, before emoji fans start looking up all of their favorite symbols: While the word emoji itself has been in the Oxford English Dictionary since December 2013, there are no plans to add actual emojis or any other pictographs to any Oxford Dictionaries.
And traditionalists will be pleased to see the short list of "real" words considered for the honor:
ad blocker, noun: A piece of software designed to prevent advertisements from appearing on a web page.
Brexit, noun: A term for the potential or hypothetical departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, from British + exit.
Dark Web, noun: The part of the World Wide Web that is only accessible by means of special software, allowing users and website operators to remain anonymous or untraceable.
on fleek, adjectival phrase: Extremely good, attractive, or stylish.
lumbersexual, noun: A young urban man who cultivates an appearance and style of dress (typified by a beard and check shirt) suggestive of a rugged outdoor lifestyle.
refugee, noun: A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.
sharing economy, noun: An economic system in which assets or services are shared between private individuals, either for free or for a fee, typically by means of the Internet.
they (singular), pronoun: Used to refer to a person of unspecified sex.