In an endless sea of emoji, GIFs, memes, and trending everything, it’s understandable if one gets a little lost. Simple questions can earn simple answers, though, and if you just want to know what that yellow heart on Snapchat means, we’ve got you covered.
If someone had told you a couple of decades ago that everyone in the US would have a device in their pocket that allows them to receive and consume media Mission Impossible style (this snap will soon self-destruct, agent!) you might have laughed it off as a good speculative sci-fi scenario. Alas, we consume media at nearly the same speed that we live our lives. If Snapchat and its millions of users are any sign, we sure do enjoy moving at that speed, too.
The plethora of emoji that now accompany casual online communication has only enhanced this trend. Rather than explaining emotions, we have simple, almost universally interpreted graphics that do that work for us. It’s hard to misinterpret a smiley face or a wink, or moreover a heart. However, there’s still some wiggle room in terms of how each of our many messaging programs and chat applications uses these common symbols. If there wasn’t, we wouldn’t even have the type of question that prompted this article, would we?
For Snapchatters, a little bit of clarification can not only help you to understand the app’s various emoji but also help you to use them! Understanding what the emoji mean and how they interact with the various snaps you’ll see every day can help you to streamline your Snapchat experience (which has only become more important with the app’s replay feature.) None of the media that you’ll encounter in the app is meant to last particularly long. In that short amount of time, would you rather be paying attention to the snap itself, or the various emoji that are tagging along for the ride? Fast interpretation can only allow you to have a better time.
In the lexicon of emoji interpretation, it’s pretty widely understood that a heart carries with it more meaning than a smiley face. Why? Who can say? It’s very probable that it has to do with “love” signifying more emotion than “like.” In Snapchat, however, emoji don’t just carry emotion–they each actually have a very specific meaning. Once you understand each of these meanings, you’ll be able to glean a lot more information from the snaps that show up from your various contacts.
Aren’t Hearts Supposed to be Red?
In most instances, you can’t a more meaningful emoji than a red heart. It’s love, right? Plain and simple.
Leave it to Snapchat to obfuscate things with its kingly gold heart (let’s continue to call it gold, rather than yellow; you’ll see why shortly). As far as the app is concerned, a friend with a gold heart next to their name is already at the top of your contacts. There’s still room to climb and other emojis that will reflect this glowing best-friendship, but the gold heart is where it begins. We’ll explore some of the other various emoji after we decipher the big daddy, here, but it’s important to know just why you won’t be seeing gold hearts pop up all over the place.
In Snapchat, a gold heart is reserved for your #1 best friend in the entirety of your contact list. Oftentimes, it can be unhealthy to “rank” your friends, but in Snapchat, this information can actually be quantified. While the meaning of the emoji heart has never really changed much, this gold heart actually carries with it the proof that it’s deserved.
The meaning is actually quite simple; if you see a gold heart next to someone’s name, it means that you and your gold-heart-friend interact more than anyone else in each other’s contact list. Both of you are sending more snaps to each other than anyone else. While this might not necessarily be an indication of true love, it is useful in that it tells you just how much you’re interacting with a particular person. It’s honest, it’s simple, and it can catch you so off-guard that you might be prompted to find an explanation for it on the internet!
“Why not a red heart?” you might wonder. This is because there’s still a ladder to climb, and the red heart is the next step up from the gold heart! We’ll elaborate more below, but a red heart–and eventually pink hearts–are a reward for the twofold dedication of two people remaining “BFFs” for prolonged periods of time.
What’s also interesting is that this emoji can fluctuate. As you might imagine, if a different contact ends up being a more popular chat recipient for you or your gold-star friend, then the emoji will shift to reflect that change in the amount of contact you’re sharing. Before we wax poetic about the fleeting nature of heart emojis and digital kindness, it’s also important to understand that all of the emojis you’ll see next to a person’s name work this way. Each is meant to tell you something about your relationship with that particular person. They’re assigned based on your activity, and it’s your activity (as well as your friends’) that can make them change.
This Sounds Messy!
It seems messy, but as soon as you begin to understand the meaning of each of the emoji, it’s actually a very fluid, fun, and informative addition to the chat interface. There are relatively few that you need to understand in order to get a grasp on the system, and since there are so few, we’ll lay them out for you, right here and now.
Keep in mind that Snapchat is always changing based on the demands of the Snapchatters inhabiting it. As the app continues to grow, you may very well return someday to look for the meaning of an off-white heart emoji with green shades and a smile. Until that day comes to pass, though, the following will get you “in the know.”
- Gold Heart. The tip-top of your Snapchat interactions. As said before, it means that you snap with this person more than anyone else, and the same goes for their snaps to you.
- Red Heart. The next step up from the gold heart earned after 2 weeks of BFF status. Congrats!
- Pink Hearts. The very top of BFF status earned after 2 months! Snapchat does not currently have a “set a date” feature.
- Baby. A new-ish emoji that appears next to your new friends. Aww!
- Gold Star. This snap has recently been “replayed!” It’s getting attention, so it might be worth yours!
- Sunglasses Face. You’re a best friend with one of this person’s best friends. It pays to be connected, right?
- Grimacing Face. Your #1 best friend is also theirs. You’re both sending the most snaps to the same person. Snapchat does not currently have a “three-is-a-crowd” emoji, but this will suffice for now.
- Smirking Face. They snap you a lot, but you’re not returning the favor. You attention hog, you.
- Smiling Face. You snap them a lot. Enough, in fact, to earn a smile.
- Fire! Look at you go! You and this person have snapped each other every day! The fire builds as you keep the chain going, unbroken.
- 100! If you build the Snapchat fire for 100 days in a row, you earn a red-hot 100 emoji!
In the grand scheme of things, this is only a handful of symbols to recognize! On top of that, many of them build off each other, which makes them particularly easy to learn. In addition to the “gold heart of best-friendship,” this collection of emoji will tell you quite a lot about both your Snapchat activities and your friends’, particularly in how they relate to your own snaps.
They’re not going away, either. In fact, if current trends continue, emojis will carry on being the universal shorthand for how we see other people digitally, and how we express emotions when the cumbersome nature of words proves to be an obstacle.
Whether you’re an old-school Snapchatter who has been along for the ride or a new user that’s still learning the ropes, the above lexicon can help you to overcome this simple hurdle and carry on enjoying snaps. Few social media platforms offer such a delightful media buffet of relevant images and videos, and as most Snapchat users know, the app can prove to be an addictive portal into worldviews, issues, and stories (both public and personal) that you might not otherwise have encountered.
It’s easy to overlook something so simple as emojis. With how crazily we insert them into our own text messaging and online communications, they often come as easily as punctuation at the end of a sentence. It’s good to know that apps like Snapchat are still ascribing some semblance of greater meaning and symbology to these widely used little pictures and that the learning curve associated with recognizing them can help you to do the same. From yellow (gold) hearts to smirking faces, it’s abundantly clear that emojis are here to stay. Speak up in the comments below and tell us about your own Snapchat experiences (or better yet, ask more questions!)