Prayer or High Five? The Mystery Behind the ‘Folded Hands’ Emoji

What does the ‘folded hands’ emoji actually mean?

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Prayer or High Five? The Mystery Behind the ‘Folded Hands’ Emoji

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This World Emoji Day, let’s talk about an emoji which has had the house divided for quite some time now!

Presenting to you...

The 🙏 emoji and its open-ended life.

What exactly am I talking about? Well, the debate around its ‘real’ meaning is a volatile one and has always roped in feisty netizens advocating their way of usage over others’!

Prayer or high-five emoji? 
(Photo: iStock)
The debate lies in whether the emoji represents a ‘high five’ or ‘hands folded in prayer’ or simply a namaste or... maybe something else entirely?

I say, somebody really needs to demystify this so that there is no room for miscommunication. We don’t want to be high-fiving while praying, right?

What’s This Emoji? 🙏

The emoji shows two hands pressed together with the thumbs pointed upwards.

In Japanese culture, the emoji is used to express a feeling of gratitude and refers to ‘itadakimasu’, which is commonly said before eating one’s meal.

In India, as you know, the interpretations are endless! Folded hands can mean a person extending a greeting (namaste), a person seeking forgiveness, a person praying, or a person high-fiving! Phew.

“I Was Today Years Old...”

Now, any open-ended pop culture tool will have a barrage of opinions.

A quick Google search on ‘prayer emoji’ and ‘high five emoji’ leads to the same result, which makes the meaning even more unclear.


It Is ‘Definitely the Prayer Emoji’?

There are plenty of people in the pro-prayer emoji camp. Here’s a Twitter user pointing out that if the emoji was meant to be a high five, then both the sleeves would not be of the same colour.

But Wait...

But wait... the folded hands emoji actually looks different on different devices! Here’s adding weight to the argument that it’s definitely a prayer emoji.

The emoji appears differently on devices.
(Photo Courtesy: Emojipedia Altered by the Quint)

Samsung phones previously had the lower body included in the folded hands emoji and it was only in 2018 that it changed it to just the two hands!


Another Twitter user has argued that when he typed the word ‘pray’ on the keyboard, the emoji popped up as a suggestion.

The Thumb Rule...

Some on the internet also said that since the emoji showed both the thumbs in the upward direction, which happens only during praying, it has to be a prayer emoji. If it was a high five emoji, then the thumbs would be in the opposite directions.

Interesting, right? I bet you’re already questioning your interpretation of the emoji!


So, What’s the Verdict?

According to Emojipedia, there is no one winner!

The folded hands emoji gives us the liberty to express multiple emotions. Even though it has been used mostly to express feelings of spirituality, hope and praise, using it as a high five emoji should not be considered incorrect. Emojipedia also adds that the latter should be considered as only secondary usage. Le!

Basically, to you, your own. Let your creative juices flow.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  WhatsApp   Texting   Emoji 

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