There’s a lot you can do with a well-placed heart emoji. You can express your eternal devotion to a lover, let your bestie know you’re there for her in her time of need, turn the flirtiness level on an otherwise chill convo with your crush up *just* the right amount—or, you know, like, wish your Grandma a happy birthday, soften a maybe otherwise slightly harsh Slack to a coworker, or feel out the vibe with new acquaintance who might be Actual Friend material, but for now you’re gonna stick to drunk-gals-hyping-each-other-up-in-the-bathroom energy. Gotta play it cool, right?
All this to say—yes, you have a wide array of options when it comes to what you wanna say with a heart emoji. And what exactly you do say largely depends on *which* heart emoji you use (and also, obviously, on the context in which you use it, because duh). In case you missed it, there are over 20 (yes, 20) different heart emoji options on the standard keyboard to choose from, and you’d best believe that each and every one of them has the power to convey a unique—if not universally agreed-upon—meaning.
Indeed—and, uh, not to stress you out or anything, but—this also means that you (yes, you) might be sending some unintentionally mixed signals with your own heart emoji of choice. Hence why we’ve graciously gone ahead and prepared this handy glossary of every heart emoji, what it means, and when to use it.
But, full disclosure, please bear in mind that there’s not, like, an exact science to this stuff. We don’t have an advanced degree in Emoji Literacy (because it’s not a thing—if it were, we obviously would), so take our non-expert emoji-nalysis with a massive grain of salt here. Like everything else, context is key, and half the fun of emoji decoding is the fact that it is so subjective and there are so many possible interpretations. What can we say? Emoji heart meaning is in the eye of the beholder.
That said, we do have some legit emoji science to throw your way. A 2019 study from the Kinsey Institute found that people who use emojis have more sex and go on more dates. So it feels fair to say that if you want to maximize the potential of your emojis, you’re going to want to make sure you’re using them right.
While there’s no official emoji dictionary (and remember that, like all language, emoji usage evolves over time) there are some general guidelines and tips as to what exactly each emoji heart signifies when you send or receive it. Here’s our ~unofficially official~ breakdown.
1. 💙 Blue Heart 💙
Blue hearts have bro energy. Something about the classic collegiate tone of a royal blue is extremely, “What’s better than this? Just guys being dudes.”
This isn’t because blue is a gendered thing but more because the blue heart implies a sort of shallow friendship. You don’t send a blue heart to anyone you trust with your emotional baggage. You send it to the homies you see once a month or that girl you promise you’ll get brunch with “one of these days.”
Good for: Group chats when you have nothing to add, texting your parents when they check in, randos who DM you on Instagram in a nonsexual context.
Bad for: Eh, it’s hard to misuse this one, TBH.
2. 💛 Yellow Heart 💛
This is a very Gentle™️ energy, most likely to be used in a familial relationship, friendship, or a romantic thing that’s moving into friendship territory. This emoji sees the most action around Mother’s Day, conversations with your grandma, and other friendly and supportive figures.
Good for: New relationships where you want to show affection without fear of coming on too strong or when you’re sending to family members.
Bad for: Anyone you’ve ever seen naked or would like to see naked eventually.
3. 💜 Purple Heart 💜
For those in the know, the purple heart is considered a horny emoji. Thanks to Ty Dolla Sign’s “Purple Emoji,” this is now canon.
Alternatively, if you see this cropping up in a family group chat, it could be related to your grandpa’s Purple Heart. Thank you for your service, soldier. The two wildly different translations mean that the purple heart is chaotic. Use at your own risk.
Good for: Shamelessly booty-calling someone or a FWB situation.
Bad for: Anyone whose parents you’ve met.
4. 🤍 White Heart 🤍
The white heart looks clean, minimal, potentially bridal, and, yeah, kinda sterile. At its best, it is a good, bland heart, good for wedding stuff. This is far different from number 7, the heart outline emoji, as this one is a filled-in, dimensional white heart, making it way more, well…intentionally white.
Good for: Wedding things, generic expressions of affection and/or support, or captioning ~aesthetic~ photos of decor along with some other monochrome black-and-white emoji palette.
Bad for: Showing support after the loss of a pet (IDK why, but red hearts are universally better for showing pet-related love) or talking about white privilege unironically.
5. ♥️ Flat Red Heart ♥️
While it might look similar to the classique red heart, the flat red heart is actually part of the suit of cards collection. The messaging is the same of the classic red heart but shows a bit of rushed use or infrequent heart emoji use or familiarity. No one should go for the flat red heart if they’re using the other colored heart emoji palette.
Good for: Sending the love and good feelings of the original red heart emoji when you can’t find it in a pinch.
Bad for: Use as a repeated substitute for the red heart emoji. This emoji should not have any place in your “frequently used” emoji tray.
6. 🥰 Smiley Face With Hearts 🥰
Does this one technically count as a heart emoji? Unclear. But look, there are hearts involved so on the list it goes! This cute little guy is all about heartfelt, unapologetic love–of pretty much any variety. Send this one to your mom, your bestie, your lover, a casual friend who pays you a particularly endearing compliment. Spread this baby far and wide, honestly!
Good for: Cutesy yet sincere declarations of love, gratitude, and/or affection.
Bad for: Impassioned declarations of real-deal passion. Otherwise, hard to go wrong with this baby.
7. Heart Hands
Anyone who is familiar with Fearless-era Taylor Swift (whether you were there IRL or have seen archival footage on TikTok) knows this gesture. And, hi, now it exists in emoji form. The vibe here is very cute, potentially flirty, definitely fearless, and, above all else: sincere, damn it!
Good for: Your Fearless era, low-key expressions of sincerity.
Bad for: Literally nothing. Just send it!
8. ♡ Copy Paste Heart ♡
The outlined heart emoji is a bit more difficult to find (you’re likely to find it using your keyboard’s control + command + space bar function, but scrolling for it is another story). The outline heart mostly gets a lot of play as a copy-paste heart, meaning it’s v intentional…and as such, too intentional to be used willy-nilly.
Good for: Being Ariana Grande, aesthetic ~love~, being 21 and under, showing your friends how much you love them.
Bad for: Casual relationships or relationships you’re trying to seem casual about.
9. 🫀 Anatomical Heart 🫀
The anatomical heart is the perfect combination of cute and creepy, for those who are into that sort of thing. If you’re like, a science nerd in love with another science nerd, this one’s for you.
Good for: Med students or friends and lovers with a sense of humor.
Bad for: A new relationship, repeated substitution for a red heart, and parents or grandparents (they won’t get it).
10. ❤️ Red Heart ❤️
Just like red roses are the most traditionally romantic flower, the red heart is the most traditionally romantic heart. Also like red roses, however, it’s the most basic. It’s impressive only the first time you send or receive it. If a new partner is sending this to you, yes, it’s a statement, but if you’ve been dating for a few years and this is all you’re getting—they need to step it up.
This can also be considered a timeless, platonic-love, support emoji, acceptable to send and receive from anyone during times of grief or loss to show support.
Good for: The honeymoon phase of a new relationship or showing a platonic friend support.
Bad for: Following up after a first date.
11. ❤️🔥 Heart on Fire ❤️🔥
Arguably among the most overtly sexy emojis, this spicy little number represents a flaming hot passion—a “burning love,” if you wanna get Elvis with it. This one also carries a certain air of destruction—you might use it to illustrate the kind of so-hot-you-know-it’s-destined-to-fail romance that is obvs going to absolutely annihilate your soul but just feels so damn good you can’t walk away. (Aka, literally every relationship with a Scorpio.)
That said, I’d argue the flaming heart is probably used less often in reference to actual romantic/sexual feelings than sexiness in general. Not unlike its parent, Fire Emoji, the flaming heart is ideal for hyping up a friend in the comments on her latest thirst post or similar displays of sexy-adjacent-but-not-specifically-horny enthusiasm.
Good for: Impassioned displays of romantic infatuation and hyping up a friend’s hot Instagram post.
Bad for: Playing it cool or actually sending to someone you’re having/trying to have sex with. It’s a little heavy handed, ya know?
12. 🧡 Orange Heart 🧡
This is the coward’s red heart. Usually deployed by partners whose fingers hover over the red heart but ultimately decide to send a noncommittal version instead. It’s too close to the red heart to be an accident and too random of a color to mean anything else other than an affinity for the color orange itself, in which case, WTF, why is orange your favorite color? Are you the Home Depot? Enough.
Good for: Bullshit situationships.
Bad for: Anything beyond that.
13. 💚 Green Heart 💚
A solid all-purpose, platonic heart option, but with a little spunk! Anyone who chooses the bright green heart as their go-to heart emoji has a little chaos coursing through those veins, and, honestly, you love to see it.
Good for: Acquaintances, people you know through mutual friends, cool colleagues, and fuck buddies.
Bad for: Honestly nothing, TBH. This is a flawless heart emoji. No notes.
14. 🤎 Brown Heart 🤎
Sometimes used within BIPOC communities to celebrate Black and brown identities and culture, the brown heart can also be used to just express affinity for brown stuff. Coffee and/or chocolate lovers, this one’s for you!
Good for: Any use by Black and brown people, liking brown things.
Bad for: Use by a white person to show solidarity with their Black and brown friends. Just do a classic red heart to show support.
15. 🖤 Black Heart 🖤
Most often used ironically, the black heart is a symbol of deep, embarrassing, romantic love. Like, Wow, you could completely crush my hopes and dreams in a millisecond because my heart is in your hands and that makes me feel not at ease at all! But it’s exciting!
Alternatively, this heart is good for sending witchy vibes or otherwise demonstrating Big Titty Goth Girlfriend energy. Like, I’m dead inside, but in a fun, sexy way. For reference, here’s a non-exhaustive list of celebs who may or may not use but definitely embody black heart emoji vibes: Aubrey Plaza, Kat Dennings, Julia Fox, Christina Ricci.
Good for: Your soul mate or your twin flame, your Reputation era.
Bad for: Someone you’re very casually dating.
16. 💔 Broken Heart 💔
Again, most often used ironically in an “I’m just giving you shit” way. To deploy a broken-heart emoji in a serious context is a little cringeworthy, as it could be seen as trying to milk guilt out of someone (and FWIW, a phone call is much better for that type of situation).
Good for: Giving your partner a hard time if they disappoint you (but a disappointment you’ll obviously live through—you just don’t want to let them off the hook quite yet).
Bad for: Truly expressing a broken heart or shattered expectations.
17. ❤️🩹 Bandaged Heart ❤️🩹
Per its official title, this is the “Mending Heart” emoji, which seems to suggest it’s supposed to show people that you’re healing from a breakup or some other form of bereavement, or potentially to express your wishes for a quick recovery to someone else who’s going through it. Not unlike the broken heart emoji, however, I’d avoid sending this one to a person who has caused you actual emotional harm, lest it come off like you’re trying to guilt them.
Good for: Letting friends know you’re doing okay (but not like, 100%) after a breakup or wishing someone else a swift recovery.
Bad for: Sincerely accepting apologies/making amends.
18. ❣️ Heart Exclamation Point ❣️
A fun, manic-energy heart with über-versatile application. Sprinkle this in with a casual or newish partner you love (but aren’t quite in love with yet), friends, family—it’s all good!
The excitement and giddiness of the exclamation point heart implies you genuinely like the other person’s company and are super excited to see them. There’s an immediacy to this emoji that makes it perfect to toss in when confirming plans.
Good for: Telling someone your ETA when you’re meeting up, signing off a “catching up” session, and setting date plans in place.
Bad for: Serious talks.
19. 💕 Two Static Pink Hearts 💕
Two static pink hearts are super flirtatious. This is a good entry-level emoji to throw into the mix when you start dating someone. They also have great BFF energy. Very “you and I until the end of time and no one understands us” vibes.
Good for: Dating someone new you’re v into, flirty DM slides, and the constant jibber-jabber between you and your BFF.
Bad for: Someone you’re about to break up with or anyone who you can sense is into you more than you are them—rip off that Band-Aid.
20. 💞 Orbiting Pink Hearts 💞
This is the Mind-Meld heart—aka when you and someone else are on the same level about something and jinx each other. It’s basically the retweet of heart emojis.
Good for: Having a heavy talk via text, accepting an apology, forgiving someone, and apologizing to someone yourself.
Bad for: Platonic friendships—just send a red heart, omg.
21. 💓 Vibrating Pink Heart 💓
You’re vibing, you appreciate the other person, and likely one of you just went on an emotional ledge (with good results)! This is a really good apology heart, no matter what end of the apology you’re on. It’s basically saying “all is forgiven” or “I understand and still accept you as you are.”
Good for: Apologies, confessions of love, and crushes.
Bad for: Platonic friendships—it’s just like a weird half-measure when a true red heart will do just as well.
22. 💗 Pink Heart Growing in Size 💗
Aka the Grinch heart! She’s cute, she’s vibing! It’s a solid fun yet low-stakes heart to throw into pretty much any situation in which you’d otherwise employ one of the more frequently used pink hearts if you’re in the mood to mix things up.
Good for: An apology tour after terrorizing Whoville or being cute but slightly off-beat.
Bad for: Laying low and not attracting attention. Just use the sparkle heart (💖) if you wanna play it cool. Which brings us to…
23. 💖 Sparkle Heart 💖
This is like the Neutral Good of heart emoji. It’s playful, cute, and twee enough that it doesn’t necessarily have heavy romantic implications. You can use this in pretty much any conversation to foster a sense of “I appreciate you” without being put on an emotional ledge.
Good for: Anything, honestly.
Bad for: Again, hard to go wrong here.
24. 💘 Heart With Arrow Through It 💘
As one of the lesser-used symbols within the heart emoji taxonomy, seeing one of these means you kind of have to read into the meaning of it. Therefore, send with caution, as it likely will be scrutinized by the receiver.
While traditionalists would believe it’s just a symbol of new love, the reality is that there are so many other heart emoji to symbolize new love that this one gets forgotten. Really, the only thing this heart is truly ideal for is platonic Valentine’s Day texts/posts—you know, because Cupid.
Good for: Your long-term S.O. of several years where truly nothing is new anymore, generic Valentine’s Day well-wishes.
Bad for: That platonic friend you’ve always thought was kind of cute.
25. 💝 Pink Heart Wrapped With Ribbon 💝
You’re in love, you’re in love, and you don’t care who knows it! It’s the unironic “my heart is yours for the taking” emoji. Really hard to justify this in any nonromantic relationship. Also has possibly neutral Valentine’s Day potential though, on account of kind of looking like a heart-shaped box of chocolates.
Good for: If you’re totally smitten with someone and they are too, or if it’s Valentine’s Day.
Bad for: If you’re not on equal footing in this situationship.
26. 💌 Love Letter Heart 💌
Does this one technically count as a Heart Emoji proper? Debatable. But she does boast some cute, old-school romance vibes, no? Toss this one in when you’re going for flirty, but not basic. This is the emoji to throw out when you want to leave ’em guessing—but, you know, in a fun way, not a “Wait, WTF is that?” way.
Good for: Adding a low-stakes air of mystery to a flirty exchange.
Bad for: Any non-flirtatious context, really.
27. 💟 Purple Text Box Heart 💟
Unacceptable, full stop. There are so many others to choose from. Literally why?
Rachel Varina is a full-time freelance writer covering everything from the best vibrators (the Lelo Sona) to the best TV shows (The Vampire Diaries). She has over 10 years of editorial experience with bylines at Women’s Health, Elite Daily, Betches, and more. She lives in Tampa, Florida, but did not feed her husband to tigers. When she’s not testing out new sex toys (100+ and counting so far!), she’s likely chilling with her dogs or eating buffalo chicken dip. Ideally at the same time. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.
Associate Sex & Relationships Editor