Exact definition of "emoji"?

From: Karl Pentzlin (karl-pentzlin@acssoft.de)
Date: Sun Dec 21 2008 - 09:09:59 CST

Maybe I have overlooked something, but I did not find an exact
definition of "emoji" by which can be decided whether any symbol is an
emoji or not.

According to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emoji
"Emoji (絵文字, Emoji?) is the Japanese name for the picture characters
 or emoticons used in Japanese wireless messages and webpages."
(However, as the term "emoji" literally means "picture character", thus
 it only coincidentally sounds like "emoticon"?)

Taking this as definition, a symbol has to be checked whether it
occurs in Japanese wireless messages or webpages to determine whether
it is an emoji. This is obviously not a falsifiable criterion, thus it
is not appropriate as a formal definition.

L2/08-081 does not provide a definition at all, it only says "this
proposal covers the emoji symbols that are in widespread use ..."

If there is no formal definition, the term has to be avoided in
all formal contexts (proposals and final parts of the Unicode
standard), except mentioning "some members of this symbols set
may be informally called "emoji", i.e. picture characters, in Japan".

As one of the main concerns expressed in the recent discussion is
color and animatedness, in my eyes an appropriate definition of
emoji could be "symbols which usually are displayed using color and/or

(If such a definition is accepted, the final proposal probably will
 contain a phrase like "emoji and other symbols" in its title.)

- Karl Pentzlin

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