Emojis have come to mean just about anything. Like flowers in the Victorian era, they have their own secret (and not-so-secret) language and significance. When it comes to modern euphemisms for death, the coffin emoji might send some tech users spinning and wondering what exactly it means.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Does the Coffin Emoji Usually Mean?
- Where Can You Find the Coffin Emoji?
- What Other Emojis Symbolize Death or Dying?
On a literal level, the coffin emoji is a symbol of death. It can be used in several situations, but its meaning is much less black-and-white. Like most things in life, context is everything.
What exactly does it mean if you receive a coffin emoji in your inbox or a text message? What about if you see it on social media? While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, we’ll read into it a little too much to give you the various possibilities. It’s up to you to determine which best fits your situation.
What Does the Coffin Emoji Usually Mean?
The coffin emoji is quite literally an image of a coffin or casket. It is usually associated with other emojis, particularly the funeral urn, skull, and skull and crossbones. On a basic level, the coffin emoji symbolizes death, funeral, sorrow, or sadness over a loss.
What does the coffin emoji look like?
The coffin emoji appears differently depending on the specific tech interface you’re using. On Apple, for instance, it’s a multi-dimensional cartoon of a casket, complete with a simple flower arrangement on top. On Samsung, it’s a wooden casket free of any floral imagery.
In some interfaces, the coffin includes religious symbols like the cross. In most cases, it’s kept simple intentionally as a way to appeal to all users. You can always tell the coffin emoji by its common shape and wooden color.
The symbolism behind the coffin emoji
Most emojis have their own symbolism. Like roses are used to share someone’s passion or love, emojis are used to communicate feelings and ideas. They’re often used in place of words, but they can be used alongside a message as well.
The exact symbolism behind the coffin emoji depends on the casket. It could hold any of the following meanings:
While these might not all seem to go together, it’s important to understand how different situations bring different nuances to life. In most cases, the coffin emoji is used to symbolize sadness, mourning, and grief. It could be listed alongside a RIP or sympathy message.
But on the internet, it’s common to exaggerate and use symbols of death to show humor. For example, it’s increasingly normal to say “I’m dead” or “That’s so funny I could die” after a particularly humorous moment. A death-related emoji simply drives this point home. It’s not meant to be disrespectful, just another way to show something is laugh out loud funny.
Where Can You Find the Coffin Emoji?
As mentioned above, you’ll find the coffin emoji in more situations than you’d expect. There is no formal rule book or dictionary related to emojis.
How they’re used is determined by pop culture, and that means you’ll find the meaning behind the coffin emoji shifting and evolving over time. In general, you’ll find the coffin emoji in these situations below.
Memorials or tributes
The first place you’ll encounter the coffin emoji is in relation to memorials, tributes, or sympathy message. Just as there’s nuance around saying someone passed away vs. died, there’s also a lot to consider before using a coffin emoji on a memorial or tribute page.
Many people include these emojis after a sympathy message or as a way to say rest in peace. For example, they could include the coffin emoji after sharing a funeral announcement or after announcing a loved one’s death. It’s meant as a form of respect in honoring the dead.
Exasperation and stress
You’ll also find the coffin emoji associated with exasperation and feelings of stress. After a long day, sometimes it does feel like you could die from exhaustion. The coffin emoji is a way to show this frustration without saying too many words.
For this meaning, you’ll commonly see posts on social media lamenting feelings of tiredness or frustration. It’s not meant to be taken too seriously, but it could help them feel heard after a long day.
Another context where you might see coffin emojis is in relation to scary stories. There’s a wide world of horror and scary stories to be found on the web. If these stories relate to death or dying, you’re likely to find a coffin emoji.
If someone sends a coffin emoji or posts a coffin emoji in relation to a scary story, game, or website, it’s safe to say that might be a particularly scary type of media. Again, this is usually meant in a lighthearted way.
Last but not least, you’ll find coffin emojis used as a way to further a joke. They’re a low-pressure way to emphasize that something is so funny you could die. Not literally, of course, but metaphorically.
It’s a turn of phrase that’s evolved in the digital age. For something that’s over-the-top laugh out loud, someone might send a coffin emoji to show that they’re symbolically “dead” at how funny it is. Take this as a compliment!
What Other Emojis Symbolize Death or Dying?
There’s an emoji for just about everything related to both life and death. With new emojis being added to the “alphabet” every few months, this is a constantly growing medium for expressing ideas and concepts.
While the coffin is a clear symbol of death and dying, it’s not the only one. Here are some other emojis that capture a similar meaning.
The skull emoji is commonly used to symbolize both death and toxic things. It’s quite literally the skull that appears on toxic labels, warning of something scary, dangerous, or fearful. The skull is usually used in humorous, lighthearted contexts.
Skull and crossbones
This is easily confused for the skull emoji, but it’s different in that it has the criss-crossed bones at the back. Like a pirate flag, this also carries dark implications. It’s usually used interchangeably with the skull emoji.
The ghost emoji is a cartoon-like emoji that looks like a white bubble with arms and a tongue sticking out. This ghost isn’t meant to be scary, however. It’s silly appearance means it’s most commonly used during Halloween and to relate to scary stories about death.
The funeral urn emoji is a recent addition to the emoji alphabet. The meaning is very similar to the casket emoji, and it’s commonly only used in relation to someone’s death or a message of mourning.
Though it might be a surprise, the flower bouquet is also used commonly in relation to death and dying. Since sympathy bouquets are common after a loss, and most funerals include flower arrangements, this bouquet emoji is used to honor someone’s legacy online.
This emoji is supposed to show a dizzy person, but it’s commonly confused with a dead-looking face. It’s a yellow face with X’s for eyes and a round, open mouth. This is typically used as a joke emoji in relation to something being so funny you could die.
Say It With an Emoji
While humans have used languages for thousands of years to express themselves, this isn’t the only way to get a feeling or message across. In today’s world, we often rely on technology to express ourselves. This is best seen in our growing use of emojis, even for more complex topics like death and dying.
The coffin emoji is one of the most complex images on the emoji keyboard, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from using it. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. While an emoji might not warrant such a high number, it’s certainly a worthwhile form of expression and understanding.