🙂 Slightly Smiling Face Emoji Guide

When it doubt, just smile! But, slightly.

The facial response of smiling has evolved with us and with each expressional milestone we made. And each time, we welcomed and incorporated a new smile into our “smile directory” – well, at least in most of our cultural histories. Each culture and country have their own expressions of happiness, and smiling is most times, a reflection of that emotion. Sometimes, it can also be used as a pleasing cover-up for emotions that aren’t appreciated in certain societies.

Smiling is one of the broadest expressions with a range of over 15 different gestures – all composed of a “smile”. Each smile has a different connotation and not everything is about happiness. In fact, of the total number of smiles, only 6 speak for the universally acknowledged and generally fulfilling emotion of happiness. The rest? A whole bunch of different things – and the focus emoji of this guide belongs to that bunch.

What makes the 🙂 slightly smiling face emoji the hardest to decipher is its unconventional smile – which, indeed is an expression many of us do not associate with happiness – but something colorfully contradictory. Read on to know more about the emoji, its use-cases, what it means when someone sends it, and of course, our take on the slight smile.

Slightly Smiling Face Emoji

Meaning of 🙂

The 🙂 Slightly Smiling Face emoji is one of the most complex emojis on the list. This emoji can mean anything from politeness, emotional distance, and neutral friendliness to frustration, aversion, mental/physical pain, exhaustion, embarrassment, and well, “happiness”.

The ‘slight’ smile on this emoji evokes an array of interesting interpretations. Given its moderate show of emotion, 🙂 seems to be the perfect emoji to use with people you don’t know very well. Many times, this emoji is also the center of hilarity. It is used likewise to express contending emotions – which, in intimate conversations can be pretty funny.

Is 🙂 a Happy Emoji?

jen theodore i6iVOXfZM0s unsplash

It’s hard to say, actually.

If you’re the kind to be happy “on the inside” with a minimal expression on the outside, then this emoji and the expression would deem fit for your definition of happiness. But, if you’re the kind to explode with emotion, then you wouldn’t associate 🙂 with happiness – because, happiness, as we know it, is an overflowing emoji. You know it when you see it. Besides, it’s infectious (unless you’re allergic to joy). Seeing a smiling person can easily puppet your lips. That too, to a full-blown smile, showing teeth and all – if you’re the kind to bare some teeth, in the first place.

Happiness is never a caged emotion. It is an emotion of freedom. We feel free(er) when we’re happy. We feel unconstrained, light, and content when happy – and when we’re free, it’s torturous to chain our emotions. We’re eager to burst and fill the room. And that, cannot happen with one of these 🙂. The strategic control to show emotion is what makes this emoji unhappy. The word ‘slight’ and the purposeful limitation of the mouth’s curve highlights restriction. There’s nothing happy in and about constraint!

So, based on the visible “facts”, emotion-based deductions, and logic, 🙂 cannot be a happy emoji just because it’s smiling. And this is a lesson for so many of us. Smiling is not equal to being happy. They’re mutually exclusive in their significance and only converge in moments of authentic magic.

But, here’s the exception to the rule. As overflowing and wonderful as happiness is, it’s an emotion at the end of the day – which means, it is subjective. Different people derive happiness from different things – and similarly, show happiness in different ways too. The majority cannot speak for the minority no matter how vast the difference. Many burst with joy and some feel the same emotion at the same intensity but with a 🙂.

What Does “Slight Smile” Mean 🙂

luke southern yyvx eYqtKY unsplash

Smiling is the current symbol and facial gesture for happiness. But as mentioned before, there are tons of different smiles, and not all of them are happy. There are 19 different types of smiles, to be precise, of which, only six equate to the emotion. The rest are responses to rather uncomfortable situations – a stark deviation from the source emotion that boosts a true smile.

Here, we list the seven most noticeable smiles – each characteristic of its own emotional drama at play. The unhappy results will shock you.

The Duchenne Smile

This one’s presumably the most genuine of all smiles. A classic Duchenne smile is all teeth and sometimes, all gums as well. But, it’s not only the lower half of the face that makes this smile genuine. The eyes, particularly “smile” as well – causing the infamous ‘crow eyes’, which are believed to symbolize genuine and felt happiness in many parts of the world.

The “Miserable” Smile

This one’s when someone smiles but with a downward curve. It’s the “Wow, pretty impressive” or “Not bad” smile. We believe the ulterior metaphor behind the rightly named ‘miserable smile’ simply reflects the miserable condescension of the smiler while exhibiting the smile of misery. Since it’s a smile, the smiler could use it as an advantage and express arrogance, which may not always be read that way – cause chances are, they’re just smiling! Or, the person’s in a sorry state without any metaphors.

The Fake Smile

It doesn’t matter which part of the world we come from, we’ve all seen a fake smile. We may have even displayed the great pretense, ourselves. A fake smile is sometimes a great way to conceal a not-so-pretty state of mind, emotion(s), or opinion, given how abnormally positive a smile is. Most times, the reason for a fake smile lies in an ugly emotion – and the smile is the perfect camouflage. But, that said, fake smiles aren’t always easy to spot. Some of us have just mastered the art 🙂.

The Angry Smile

Each community accepts and rejects certain emotions. Not every emotion is actively supported by all communities, and one of the emotions that often makes it to the “list of the unacceptable” is anger. In some countries, happiness is a comforting emotion even in uncomfortable situations. Here, unacceptable emotions such as anger are thickly wrapped with a smile. In such communities, you may not see rage at all. But you will see a lot of smiling – and it can be challenging to tell the difference.

The Smile of Contempt

This smile is a smirk, but one that’s tightly held in place. A smirk is a facial expression that raises one corner of the mouth while the other stays put. A contempt smile is similar to a smirk – only here, the underlying emotions are far more hateful. Contempt smiles contain revenge, hatred, hostility, prejudice, and well, contempt. While smirks too can emit contentious emotions, they’re not as vengeful. They’re just smug.

The Embarrassed Smile

Embarrassment or the desire to be invisible in adverse situations normally doesn’t have a smile. Such situations traditionally call for covering the source of embarrassment – which is mostly the identity; the face. But, when shame needs a smile, it is shown with an uneasy and slightly curved mouth – much like the 🙂 slightly smiling face emoji. A pair of wide or shut eyes may also accompany the expression.

The Dampened Smile

Dampening is the act of decreasing or increasing something. This smile aligns with the definition, but only with one part – 🙂 reduces the emotional intensity. When we’re elated with joy but cannot express it openly, we dampen our genuine smiles. The teeth are covered, but the felt smile is plastered and the crow eyes are present. This is the kind of smile we exhibit when we witness something supremely happy and joyous but are surrounded by corpocracy and sophistication.

The Slightly Smiling Face Emoji

The only smile flashing teeth in the ‘top seven’ list is the Duchenne smile or the famous ‘genuine’ or ‘felt’ smile. All the other smiles hide their pearls – a prominent feature of the slightly smiling face emoji. This means 🙂 could suggest those smiles as well – and as a matter of fact, it does! The 🙂 emoji signifies embarrassment, masked anger, frustration, contempt, condescension, and a manner of dampening heightened happiness.

🙂 seems to be an amalgam of different smiles, and with that, different emotions and emotional responses. The “slightness” of this emoji is seen in almost every listed smile, except the Duchenne smile, ofc. To express slightly is to express in control – which adds up to not expressing fully. Now, this is what a “slight smile” would actually mean. The smile is not full because it does not express complete and unconstrained emotion – which is assumed to be happiness in this case. Instead, the face can mirror some seriously negative or sometimes even neutrally negative emotions and responses. This calculative restrain of emotional expression is seen in both 🙂 and the six different smiles – unless the fake smile is a toothy one.

Significance of the 🙂 Slightly Smiling Face

The 🙂 slightly smiling face emoji is a complex emoji, to begin with. It’s the face of multiple emotional backdrops – all carpeted with a slight smile. Many cultures and countries across the world encourage smiling because it is learned that a smile is a symbol of happiness, positivity, friendliness, and approachability – the ingredients for a perfect and calm society. So, irrespective of the fullness of the smile, 🙂 can be misread for joy.

Though 🙂 says “smiling” it doesn’t necessarily mean happy, positive, or any of the mentioned ingredients. In fact, it could suggest the opposite.🙂 means anything from aggressive emotions to embarrassing ones. It could mean I will kill you in your sleep or I would love some peaceful sleep too. Anything is allowed for this emoji – except happiness. It is very versatile that way.

So, to wrap up the significance of the slightly smiling face emoji, we’d like to say that this face, albeit all the slight smiling, is not very pleased, happy, amiable, or welcoming. It might as well be 😈 Satan with a face.

What it Means When Someone Sends 🙂

pexels miguel a padrinan 806408

The 🙂 slightly smiling face emoji has good news! It expresses subtle and non-romantic emotion. Therefore, it works out best in neutral conversations. When a sender uses this emoji, they’re being as emotionally distant as possible. The emotions showcased by the 🙂 emoji are so passive that it is actually preferable and safe sometimes.

So, here are our interpretations of what different groups of senders could mean when they use 🙂.

When a Stranger Sends 🙂

The 🙂 emoji from a stranger is probably the least alarming and strangely comforting of all sets of senders. There’s no cue of emotion (which is desirable, from a stranger) and this emoji cannot be used romantically at all. A stranger using this emoji conveys impartial and maybe even surface-level friendliness, politeness, and warmth. There’s a sense of distance that is generally appreciable in conversation with strangers.

When an Acquaintance Sends 🙂

If this is an acquaintance you know well, then 🙂 may hint at discomfort. But, if it’s someone new, then, it’s no cause for concern. The person is most probably starting to get comfortable with using emojis with you and they’re starting it small. And what’s best than starting with 🙂.

This emoji can mean more with added relational closeness. Users often figure out conversations that are out of place with 🙂. This emoji may be just courtesy when used by strangers, socially and emotionally distant senders. But with familiar acquaintances who don’t generally use this emoji, it could point at sarcasm, not meaning what they say, passiveness, trying to be funny, or just trying out the emoji without any hidden meaning.

When a Friend Sends 🙂

If a friend’s emoji definition of happiness and joy is the 🙂 slightly smiling face (which shouldn’t be the case), then, you can tell what they mean when they use this emoji. But, if it’s someone who uses a range of emojis to show emotion and then crashes with the 🙂 in one particular conversation, then something could be off.

This emoji can signify a dormant emotion. It could be the beginning of a massive emotional explosion or it’s just the person being indifferent. However, if this emoji accompanies a humorous or darkly humorous message, then, it is being used with light-hearted emotions, and their intention banks towards comical expression.

When Someone Close Sends 🙂

This is an uncomfortable encounter, tbh. As conversations become more personal and heartfelt, there’s a conscious avoidance of neutral and less-than expressive emojis. This generally applies both ways in the conversation. But, when one party – here, the sender, resorts to the 🙂 emoji, then, it’s conventionally not a good sign.

The closeness of the relationship and the “textual closeness” you build over time eventually evades ambiguity because things become more apparent and honest. When someone uses a vague emoji as 🙂 in such sincere conversations, you must open up and talk about what went wrong. Because most probably, something did.

When a Date Sends 🙂

Different people express themselves differently. Some find 🙂 to be a genuine display of politeness and happiness because there’s a smile on it, while most of us, know that 🙂 is not a true smile, and that it encloses something less than positive. So, if the date is a part of “most of us”, then, 🙂 is a remarkable red flag or the beginning to a full-mast.

Most dates take forever to get completely honest. Unless it’s instant true love, it would take a miracle to make honesty part of the connection and thereby, the conversation. In such cases (which is most cases), a 🙂 slightly smiling face indicates loss of interest, finding out you’re not “their type”, trying to avoid and eventually/hopefully cut all ties, and shooting awfully sarcastic comments and messages. Or they’re just being goofy and testing if “you’re the one”, with 🙂 which is again pretty pathetic.

When and How to Use 🙂 Correctly

As objective and neutral as 🙂 is, it can flare up some indifference – especially if the receiver knows of this emoji and its volatile expressiveness. This emoji is just fine with strangers and acquaintances you’re not very familiar with. In fact, it’s one of the best emojis to use with those groups of receivers. That is if you want to keep your emotions to yourself and not all over the conversation.

But, if you’re aiming for precise expression with 🙂, then here are a couple of things you can successfully yet passively communicate – if you don’t want to use your words, of course.


If you don’t really like something or someone and if you are way too polite to verbally say it, or text it, in this case, you can use the 🙂 slightly smiling face emoji. It portrays “good” manners, but with a deadly secret. This emoji can make you seem like you’re okay with anything and anyone, but only you and the receiver (if they can get it) would understand that you’re not really okay with it/them. 🙂 works best in situations you want to scream aloud, but just cannot – and we all know those situations and conversations.


A slight smile rather than a frown is the perfect and we’d like to say, the ideal way to show indifference, particularly if you are expected to care. If you’re feeling unusually vengeful and wish to show it, the 🙂 emoji is great. You could mean the most distant things, and this emoji will only enhance the impact. How wonderful. Besides, 🙂 is the real “cold face”, not the 🥶 cold face emoji. 🙂 is truly harsh and not just visibly.


This is one of the comical use-cases of the slightly smiling face emoji. There are tons of ways to creatively express pain and misery online, and 🙂 is one of our top emoji picks. Whether it’s a twitch over imperfection like a grammatical error, a painful weekend, a sleepless night, or a horrible day at work, you could show any pain with 🙂. Because as they say, we can bear it as long as we can wear it – and what’s better than wearing a smile even through the crappiest days! 🙂 Hurray to toxic positivity!


The all-rounder 🙂 slightly smiling face emoji has one superpower – sarcasm. You can virtually turn anything into a sarcastic message with this emoji – it’s that powerful. The “slight” smile invokes that potential. If you ever wish to say something sarcastic, ironic, satirical, mocking, or anything laughable in the most unapparent of ways, then this emoji should be your go-to. With the right message, in the right conversation, to the right person, this emoji is sure to do wonders! 🙂

Related Emojis

noah blaine clark syRbYX5e5g8 unsplash

Through all the contentions between the 🙂 slightly smiling face emoji and the other “smiling face emojis”, there’s one consistent curve – the smile. The toothless, slightly curved smile. On the emoji list, other emojis have the same and similar smile as 🙂. Some also have a slightly deeper curve. So, here are the sinister smiling face’s 🙂 relatives:

☺️ Smiling Face Emoji

Much before we had emojis, we had emoticons. A simpler, less colorful, and unanimated version of emojis. Emoticons preserve the antiquity of digitally expressing with symbols, even today. They’re easy to type as long as they’re simple, and the simplest of all responses is the happy face – input as “:)” or “(:” or “^_^”. The ☺️ smiling face emoji is the emoji version of this happy emoticon. It chiefly suggests happiness and politeness.

😊 Smiling Face With Smiling Eyes Emoji

This emoji reinforces the universally recognized norm for a genuine smile – crow eyes. It is one of the emojis with a pair of reassuring smiling eyes. Other such emojis are – the 😁 beaming face with smiling eyes, 😄 grinning face with smiling eyes, 😙 kissing face with smiling eyes, and 😸 grinning cat with smiling eyes emojis. In all emojis, the crow eyes stand out and cause a virtual air of genuinity, warmth, friendliness, joy, and affection (in some instances).

🙃 Upside-Down Face Emoji

The upside-down face emoji is the literal flipside of the 🙂 slightly smiling face emoji. It’s the same emoji, just turned upside-down. Therefore, turning around the significance of the slightly smiling face emoji as well. Unlike the disguised positivity of the 🙂 emoji, 🙃 actually conveys real goofiness, playfulness, and no offense too. This emoji is so cute that it can be annoying when used too much – but endearing when applied sparingly.

🥲 Smiling Face With Tear Emoji

The combination of the 🙂 slightly smiling face and the 💧 droplet emojis make a painfully hilarious team. The smile shown in this emoji is the same as the star of this guide. Therefore, the 🥲 smiling face with tear emoji offers similar significance as the slightly smiling emoji – only here, emotions are a little more apparent, thanks to the teardrop. 🥲 humorously represents the advice and ability to smile through the pain.

In Conclusion

The 🙂 slightly smiling face emoji is the embodiment of an uncomfortable and ingenuine smile. Though smiling, this emoji is not necessarily happy. The smile here is highly relative to the emotion of the user – which can incredibly diverge from happiness.

Emotions like anger, embarrassment, guilt, frustration, and responses such as sarcasm, mockery, resentment, burnout, and a bunch of other not-so-pretty things are smoothened out and made more presentable with the slight smile 🙂. However, that doesn’t make this emoji a completely bad and deceptive pictograph! It can be a positive emoji as well – but slightly.