An emoji is an image small enough to insert into text that expresses an emotion or idea. Emoji are most often used in emails and text messages, though may be found in any type of electronic communication. The word emoji is a combination of the Japanese word e which means picture, and moji which means character. Emojis were first used in cell phone communication in Japan in 1999. Emoji and emojis are both considered correct plural forms of the word emoji. Oxford English Dictionary chose an emoji crying tears of joy as the word of the year of 2015.
An emoticon is a representation of a human facial expression using only keyboard characters such as letters, numbers and punctuation marks. Emoticons became popular in the 1990s with the advent of emails and texting. The word emoticon is a portmanteau, made by combining the words emotion and icon. Remember, an emoticon is built from keyboard characters that when put together in a certain way represent a facial expression, an emoji is an actual image.