Prayer, high five? Users confused over emoji's meaning

Some say it means prayer, others say high five, however history may provide more insight into matter

Umar Farooq  | 21.06.2019 - Update : 22.06.2019
Prayer, high five? Users confused over emoji's meaning


Emojis -- ideograms or smileys -- used in electronic messages have become part of many people's everyday lives across the globe. They are used frequently in messaging and in social media.

Their numbers, already in thousands, are growing every year. With more and more emojis being introduced, confusion also reigns supreme around the meanings of some of them.

One case in particular is the folded hands emoji.

The emoji has been widely used across social media as a symbol for prayer. However, some users have given it a different meaning; a high five -- a hand gesture that occurs when two people simultaneously raise one hand each.

"My brother asked me if this emoji 🙏🏻 is prayer hands or a high five and I could not stop thinking about it," one Twitter user, Tristan, said online.

The debate also entered the U.S. entertainment industry, with the Twitter account of the television series Broad City tweeting, "we just found out this emoji 🙏🏻 is actually a high five, but we still gonna use as prayer hands sry."

Social media giants Apple, Twitter, and WhatsApp did not respond for comment on the meaning behind the emoji.

"It was intended to be folded hands of an individual, and not a high five," Keith Broni, a senior emoji researcher at the website Emojipedia, told Anadolu Agency.

The history of the emoji may help provide insight into its true meaning.

According to an article written by Emojipedia, the folded hands emoji emerged from earlier designs of the emoji which featured a person in a pose with their hands folded, head bowed, and eyes closed.

Once Apple adopted the folding hands emoji, it did not include the entire figure, just the hands.

In previous versions of Apple's emoji, there were rays of light coming out from behind the hands, which some users saw as illustrating the clap coming from a high five.

In 2015, the company removed those yellow lines that depicted rays of light from the emoji, leaving just the folded hands."

"The [folded hands] emoji does see some occasional, genuine uses as a high five, but this application most often appears to be in reference to the popular debate over 🙏 folded hands as the high five emoji," the article read.

When either "prayer" or "high five" is searched on Apple or WhatsApp, the folded hands emoji appears, leading to the conclusion that the emoji could mean both.

However, in certain cultures the emoji has other meanings as well, such as the Hindu greeting "namaste" or the Japanese word "itadakimasu" commonly said before eating a meal. In South Asia, it is also used to seek pardon or forgiveness.

"I see it more as a prayer but more so thankful," Ahmed Swadek, 26, a business analyst told Anadolu Agency. "If I ask a favor from someone and they do it, I will say, 'thanks dude you're the best 🙏',” he said.

Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.