Emoji Names and Keywords

CLDR collects short character names and keywords for Emoji characters and sequences.

These are found in Survey Tool under Characters, and they are divided into different category types. For example, Smileys, People, Animal & Nature, etc...

No Font support

If you see a "tofu" box in the Code column (as shown in the screenshot below), it may be that your system doesn't have font support to display the emoji images.

However an emoji image should show up in the right-hand navigation bar, as below.


  • It is often useful to view related languages to see how the emoji are handled. You can see the last release results at http://www.unicode.org/cldr/charts/latest/annotations/index.html , or open up the survey tool in another window and pick another language.

  • You can also find information about other images by doing the following:

    1. Go to the page http://unicode.org/emoji/charts/full-emoji-list.html (you can leave this window open while you work on the emoji section).

    2. Open the "Find in page" menu (typically control or command-F), and paste in the character you can't see (eg, 😅) or search for the English name (e.g. "star-struck")

    3. You should see the images for the emoji, as below.


Many of the emoji names are constructed, which means that in implementations emoji, multiple parts are used to construct and add on to other emoji. These emoji that can be used as parts to add on are found in under Characters in the Survey Tool, under Component, People, and Category. Please review these carefully!

    1. Characters\Component contains special emoji whose names are used for emoji with hair colors and skin tones.

      1. Carefully check all of these using examples provided in the right pane when you hover over each translated term (either in the Winning or Others columns)

      1. Correct meaningless translations. We have seen in some languages problems with older terms for the skin tones that won't mean anything to users. Use understandable terms like “light skin” instead of numbered levels like “peau 1”.

      2. CLDR doesn't have gender agreement for nouns, so please choose the grammatical forms that work the best.

      3. For example, in some languages there will be an adjective for “light skinned” that would need to agree with the noun (man or woman). It may work to make noun phrases instead, eg “light skin” or “bald head”.

    1. Characters\People contains three values which are used to construct emoji.

      1. All of these have examples marked by an ⓔ in the English Column.

      2. Hover over the ⓔ to see how some sample constructed emoji would look in English.

FAQ Tips for character names and keywords

  • Buttonized category: Add the wording "button"

    • "Up! button" 🆙 or Japanese "reserved" button 🈯, use the wording "button" in your language rather than referring to them as Ideogram or Ideograph.

  • Emoji specific to a country/region: reflect the usage in your locale.

    • If the Japanese beginner symbol (🔰) represents something else in your locale, you should adjust the name to reflect that. If it has no known meaning in your locale, you could refer to it as "shoshinsha mark" to make the origin clear.

    • For the “flower playing cards” 🎴: For example, in Swedish, the name is “hanafuda-spelkort, which use the Japanese name “Hanafuda” the translation of the English descriptive name.

    • Mahjong red dragon 🀄: For example, in Swedish, the name is “mahjong röd drake”, which is a Chinese name with the literal translation of the English red dragon.

    • Kaaba 🕋: For example, in Swedish, the name is Kaba, based on Swedish wikipedia https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaba.

  • Sensitivities in your locale. For example:

    • where alcohol is prohibited: Names and keywords of emoji that could be associated to alcohol should be handled with sensitivity to your locale. You could describe the emoji without reference to alcohol. For example "wine glass" 🍷 may be associated to sparkling drinks rather than wine.

    • where gambling is prohibited: Names and keywords of emoji associated with gambling (for example 🎲, ♣️, 🎰) should be handled with sensitivity to your locale. For example to describe as "dice" or "card" with no association to gambling in names or keywords.

  • Avoid using words that may describe one's opinion or sentiments. Use unbiased descriptive words. (For example, do not use "faith" in relation to a religious emoji.)

  • Be careful not to be overly purist about keywords. The goal of keywords is to define what people might search for in addition to the defined name. This means that the keywords do not need to follow formal taxonomies.

  • For example, if a user is likely to type "plant" (or equivalent in their language) when searching for a mushroom, then the mushroom emoji should have "plant" as a keyword, even if that is not biologically accurate.

  • For the Character > Categories > Label (such as French), whether or not a label is plural will depend on the label and the language. The pluralization choice will not necessarily follow the English.

Short Character Names

In CLDR we provide descriptive but short names for the characters across languages. (For reference, see Background: Unicode Std. vs CLDR names.)

Goals for the short names collected in CLDR are:

When voting on the emoji names and keywords:

    • Follow the middle of sentence rule. See Capitalization guideline.

    • As usual, the names in “en” are American English; where necessary those are customized for “en-GB”. For differences for sub-locale, see Regional Variant guideline.

Unique Names

The names must be unique. If you try to give two different emoji the same name, you will get an error, such as in the following, where the same name is given to "tiger" and "leopard" as shown in the image below.

Tips on how to handle unique names:

  • For animals and plants, it often helps to check the background of the English name, such as Tiger and Leopard, or look at languages related to yours to see how they are handled. For example, some Nordic languages don't distinguish Octopus and Squid, so people have had to come up with an alternative translations.

  • To handle name conflicts between a Zodiac symbol name with an animal/bug (Scorpius Zodiac vs Scorpion),

  • try one of the following:

    • Add "zodiac" to all the zodiac signs

    • Add "zodiac" only to the conflicting item (e.g. Scorpius Zodiac)

    • Add a term to qualify the animal/bug

  • Unique name conflicts will be different for every language; however, you could look at how other languages have handled similar conflicts and get ideas on how to get around unique name errors.

Other common problem cases that must be distinguished. NOTE that punctuation and uppercase vs lowercase distinctions are discarded when testing for uniqueness!


There are different ways emoji may have gender.

  • No specific gender

    • smilies or human-form emoji where the gender is hidden, such as person fencing.

  • Specific gender

      1. Singletons (eg man) such as business man levitating.

      2. Pairs (man, woman) such as prince and princess.

      3. Full triples (man, woman, gender-neutral) such as man detective, woman detective, and just detective (either one).

For the full triples, we need three unique names:

  • X1 (=male only; no females)

  • X2 (=female only; no males)

  • X3 (=either male or female)

In some languages it may be tricky to do this, especially for the neutral case.

Gender-neutral forms

  • The label you use for a gender-neutral form must apply to either men or women in that role, and must have a different name than the "man" version or "woman" version.

  • For example

    • German uses Feuerwehrmann for “fireman” (male fireman) and “Feuerwehrfrau” for ‘firewoman’ (female firefighter)

      • When you add a gender-neutral name, you may get an error because it collides with the male or female forms. Be sure to fix such error before leaving the page.

      • For example, you cannot add Feuerwehrmann as a name for ‘firefighter’ (gender neutral), because that would collide with Feuerwehrmann for ‘male fireman’.

        • If your language only normally has two terms (eg "student" and "studentă") then there are a couple of possibilities:

      • A. If the word "student" excludes females, and "studentă" excludes males, then you would use X1="student", X2="studentă", and then a phrase for X3 such as "student/studentă" (see below).

      • B. If the word "student" can mean either male or female, then you would use X2="studentă", X3="student", and a qualified phrase for X1 such as the translated equivalent of "male student".

      • Note: if the wording has to be awkward for one of the forms, it is probably better to use the awkward language for the gender-neutral form, eg X3.

  • When looking for possible gender-neutral forms

Be sure to review the way in which this has been done for other cases in your language (and related languages) so that you are as consistent as possible.

Character Keywords

Keywords are one or more words or short phrases that can be used to search for the character in your language.

When picking keywords, remember the following goals:

Keywords vote calculation

Emoji keywords are unique in the Survey Tool voting experience because it contains multiple item (words) in a single vote. The following enhancements to the Survey Tool are introduced starting in v34 to help improve the efficiency of keyword voting efforts.

    1. Keyword voting: The calculation of the winning set of keywords is now different. Beforehand, if you had the following choices, #1 would win. Now, the fact that #2 is a subset of #3 gives it a larger weight in voting, and #2 will win.

      1. {small} : 4 votes

      2. {big | large} : 3 votes

      3. {big | large | grand} : 3 votes

    2. Keyword de-duplication: If one keyword phrase is covered by other keyword phrases, then it will be removed. For example, the set {big bad wolf | big | bad | wolf} ⇒ {bad | big | wolf}. This will happen automatically as you enter values.

      1. Note that the items in the set are also automatically alphabetized: {big | bad | wolf} ⇒ {bad | big | wolf}

Keywords in Survey Tool view

Background: Unicode Std. vs CLDR names

The Unicode Name character property are part of the Unicode standard. They are immutable, unique IDs over all Unicode characters, and limited to uppercase ASCII letters, digits and hyphen. The names often do not apply well to the prevailing practice for emoji images, and are only available in English. Their main purpose is to serve as unique identifiers, and may not be particularly descriptive or short. Example: ɞ U+025E LATIN SMALL LETTER CLOSED REVERSED OPEN E. Because the Unicode Name is immutable, it cannot change to reflect that.

The Unicode Name may inform the English CLDR short names, and that is what we start with (for English) unless one of the other factors come into play. CLDR short names are not limited to ASCII or uppercase, even in English.

Animal Faces

A: For some animals, there are two different emoji, one of which has a name including the word “face”: for example, 🐕 U+1F415 dog and 🐶 U+1F436 dog face. In these cases, the use of “face” in the name is important for distinguishing the two emoji, and the name in your language should include an indication that it is the face rather than a whole or partial body.

For other animals, there is no such distinction. For example, there is only one wolf: 🐺 U+1F43A. In that case, you don't need to use a term corresponding to “face” in your language, even if the English name has the word face (that is often due to historical accident.)