Get Emoji Definitions Quickly in iOS

Dec 28, 2012 - 3 Comments

Did someone send an Emoji to your iPhone, iPod, or iPad and you have not the faintest of clues as to what it’s supposed to mean? With the vast array of emoji icons out there, you’re not alone, but there’s an excellent little-known feature that uses iOS text-to-speech to give a precise definition of the emoji icon in question, spoken right to you. Here’s exactly how to use it.

Define Emoji in iOS with Speak

Before starting you’ll want to do two things: First, if you haven’t yet enabled the incredibly useful text-to-speech ability in iOS so that the “Speak” button is available to apps, take a moment to do that through the Accessibility settings – beyond the purpose of this article it’s a great feature in general and really should just be enabled by default in iOS. Also, do yourself a favor and enable the Emoji keyboard in iOS so that you’ll be able to get definitions before sending them off to others in conversations, plus the ability to use them in messages and elsewhere yourself.

Define Emoji Icons Quickly from Anywhere in iOS

This will work to get the definition of an emojicon from anywhere that text is selectable in iOS, whether it’s on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch:

  • Tap and hold on the Emoji icon(s) to define, then select “Speak” when the button becomes available
  • The iOS system voice will define the emoji(s) selected, using the same voice as Siri

Of course this is useful for actually knowing what an icon is supposed to mean, but it can also be pretty fun due to the wide variety of creative and amusing emojis that exist in the character palettes of iOS and OS X. Listening to Siri’s voice define them can be absolutely hilarious, and for added amusement try stringing together a series of random and unrelated emoji and then selecting all of them to define, which results in Siri’s voice spewing out unintentionally funny gibberish.

Figuring out what an emoji is supposed to mean is really easy on a Mac too, because a simple worded definition is provided within the Special Characters panel of OS X where you select them to begin with. In iOS, there simply isn’t room for such a definition, and that’s why you’ll have to use the speaking feature instead.

Thanks for the tip Mithilesh!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Alan says:

    Crap does not work at all. Select speak and expect nothing💬

  2. Haruhiko says:

    Thanks for the tips! It works.

  3. leslie says:

    what emoji is this 🎐

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