In the same way that sending different colored flowers has various meanings, the color of the heart emoji you send can convey certain messages too. While there’s no universal translation of what each color heart emoji means, here are some general guidelines and tips as to what exactly that yellow heart means when you send it to bae—or anyone else, for that matter.
(Oh, and a disclaimer: This is not to impede on any inside jokes or meanings you and your friends might have or any health reasons behind certain-colored hearts. As always, context is king, but if you’re just curious if you’re reading too much—or not enough—into a cryptic text or Insta comment, here you go.)
1. ❤️ Red Heart ❤️
While classically considered the most romantic heart, it’s also 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, showing a platonic friend support
Bad for: following up after a first date
2. 🧡 Orange Heart 🧡
This is the coward’s red heart. Usually deployed by male 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 otherwise to mean anything else.
Good for: bullshit situationships
Bad for: anything beyond that
3. 💛 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 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, family
Bad for: anyone you’ve ever seen naked or would like to eventually see naked
4. 💚 Green Heart 💚
A braggart’s heart. Your friend who volunteers uses this a lot. Despite being literally green, it doesn’t have to do with any environmental subtext, although the overlap of people who do good and love the environment is heavy.
This tends to speak more on the sender’s behalf than any relationship the sender has with the receiver. You’re likely to get this tacked on to the end of a “Hey, I know we haven’t spoken in a while, but—” text.
Good for: acquaintances, people you know through mutual friends, junior varsity friends
Bad for: anyone you wouldn’t accept on LinkedIn
5. 💙 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.
6. 💜 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, a FWB situation
Bad for: anyone whose parents you’ve met
7. 🖤 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!
Good for: your soul mate, your twin flame
Bad for: someone you’re very casually dating
8. 💔 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
9. ❣️ Heart Exclamation Point ❣️
A fun, manic-energy heart with über-versatile application. Sprinkle this in with a casual or newish boyfriend whom 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 that 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, setting date plans in place
Bad for: serious talks
10. 💕 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, the constant jibberjabber between you and your BFF
Bad for: someone you’re about to break up with or anyone you can sense is into you more than you are them—rip that Band-Aid off
11. 💞 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.
Good for: having a heavy talk via text, accepting an apology, forgiving someone, apologizing to someone yourself
Bad for: platonic friendships—just send a red heart, omg
12. 💓 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, crushes
Bad for: platonic friendships—it’s just like a weird half measure when a true red heart will do just as well
13. 💗 Pink Heart Growing in Size 💗
Are you literally the Grinch? Because that is the only acceptable situation in which to use this. Some emoji scholars interpret this as a beating heart and therefore a complimentary emoji to send and receive. But unfortunately, they are wrong.
Good for: an apology tour after terrorising Whoville
Bad for: EVERY OTHER CONTEXT
14. 💖 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
15. 💘 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.
Good for: your long-term S.O. of several years where truly nothing is new anymore
Bad for: that platonic friend you’ve always thought was kind of cute
16. 💝 Pink Heart Wrapped With Ribbon 💝
You’re whipped and you know it! It’s the unironic “my heart is yours for the taking” emoji. Really hard to justify this in any nonromantic relationship.
Good for: if you’re totally smitten with someone and they are too
Bad for: if you’re not on equal footing in this situationship
17. 💟 Purple Text Box Heart 💟
Unacceptable, full stop. There are so many more to choose from.