This post may contain affiliate links (including because we participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program). Full disclosure is here.

The head shaking horizontally emoji shows the slightly smiling face emoji shaking from side to side. This head-shake from left to right means “No” in many cultures usually because small kids do this when refusing something, like food. But this emoji can also mean looking around or even dancing.

This is what the head shaking horizontally emoji looks like on Apple, Samsung and WhatsApp.

The head shaking horizontally emoji was released in early 2024, with some platforms supporting it. Those that don’t support it use the slightly smiling face with a horizontal arrow, pointing left and right as a fall back.

This is what the shaking head horizontally emoji looks like on platforms that don’t yet support it. It’s the “fall back” but still means the same thing.

Like the content? Be sure to like our Facebook page HERE to get daily updates on emojis, their meanings, and new ones coming out.

How to use the head shaking horizontally emoji

Here are all the ways you can use the head shaking horizontally emoji in messages:

·       Saying No or Refusing Something

Imagine you’re chatting with a friend and you want to say “no way” without typing out the whole phrase. Well, that’s where this head shaking emoji comes into play.

It’s like you’re shaking your head from side to side, showing you don’t agree with the idea or don’t want to do something, but you’re doing it with a little digital character in your messages.

Think of it as the perfect shortcut when you’re texting and want to add a bit of personality to your “no.” It’s fun, right?

You can drop this emoji into a conversation to playfully disagree or to let someone know you’re not feeling their suggestion, all without a single word. Plus, it’s super handy for those moments when you want to keep the vibe light and friendly, even when you’re turning something down.

·       Showing Dismay

Dismay is a feeling of disappointment or shock, often experienced when something unexpected and unpleasant happens. It’s that sinking feeling you get when things don’t go according to plan or when you hear news that’s not what you were hoping for.

Using the head shaking horizontally emoji to express dismay is about capturing that moment of letdown or surprise in a visual way.

Imagine you’re texting a friend about a much-anticipated event, like a concert, only to find out it’s been canceled. You could use the head shaking emoji to show your dismay. It’s like saying, “I can’t believe this is happening” or “This is so upsetting” or “I just heard the news”.

·       Looking for something

If you’ve lost something or you’re looking for something, then it’s a great idea to use the head-shake emoji.

Let’s say you don’t know where your cat’s gone. You could use one of these fun cat emojis and the shaking head emoji, to show that you’re looking everywhere for her.

This emoji can also be used if you’re lost, and you’re looking up and down the street trying to find your way or the person you’re meeting. You could type “Where are you?” or “I’m on the corner – where is this place?” along with the shaking head.

·       Dancing to music

The head shaking horizontally emoji is also great if you’re enjoying your favorite music.

Say you’re listening to a new song that you absolutely love, and it makes you want to get up and move, you might send a message like, “This new track has me dancing all over the living room!” with a shaking head emoji.

The emoji is all about your head moving to the beat of the music.

Alternatives to the shaking head horizontally emoji

If you can’t or don’t want to use the shaking head emoji, then you have some other options for saying no or refusing something, like:

·       Thumbs down emoji

This is the thumbs down emoji.

The thumbs down emoji shows disapproval, dislike, or disagreement. It’s literally giving someone the thumbs down sign.

For example, when discussing a new restaurant where you found the food bad, you could text, “Tried that new place downtown… definitely not going back 👎.” The emoji here shows that you had a negative experience.

Or, in a more lighthearted setting, if someone proposes an early morning jog and you’re not a morning person, a simple, “Waking up before sunrise? That’s a big no for me 👎” This uses the thumbs down emoji to show you don’t want to do it without a detailed explanation.

·       Prohibited emoji

This is the prohibited emoji.

The prohibited emoji, which has a circle with a diagonal line through it (🚫), is all about restriction, denial, or a warning against something.

This emoji is used when something’s not allowed, not possible, or simply a bad idea. It captures the essence of prohibition and clearly communicates boundaries or disapproval.

For example, if a friend asks if it’s a good idea to text an ex-partner, you might respond with, “Definitely not a good idea 🚫.” Here, the emoji serves as a strong discouragement, reinforcing the advice against getting in touch with the ex.

But this emoji can also come in handy to let people know about what not to do when arranging something to keep everyone safe. Let’s say there’s a group chat discussing what to bring to a potluck. You could use the prohibited emoji to remind everyone that no nuts are allowed, as in “Remember, no nuts due to allergies 🚫.” The emoji catches people’s attention and makes it clear that this is a rule that mustn’t be broken.

·       Person gesturing NO emoji

This is the person gesturing NO emoji.

The person gesturing NO emoji shows a figure with their arms crossed in front of them, which is often seen as a signal of refusal, rejection, or disagreement. It’s a firm “no” but is a little more personal than the prohibited sign emoji above because there is a person in this emoji.

For instance, if a friend wants to go somewhere you’re not comfortable with, you might respond, “I don’t think that’s a good idea for me 🙅” or “”I’ll pass on this one 🙅”.

20 Things a Head Shaking Horizontally Emoji Says

If you send or receive a message with a head shaking horizontally emoji in it, this is what that emoji could be saying:

  • No way. – Expressing disbelief or refusal.
  • Not happening. – A clear refusal or disagreement.
  • I disagree. – Politely showing dissent.
  • Absolutely not. – Strong denial or refusal.
  • I don’t think so. – Expressing doubt or denial.
  • No thanks. – Declining an offer politely.
  • Not interested. – Showing lack of interest or decline.
  • That’s not right. – Correcting a misconception or a mistake.
  • Unfortunately, no. – A polite way of saying no.
  • I can’t. – Indicating inability to comply or agree.
  • Not a chance. – Strongly declining or refusing.
  • Nope. – A casual or informal no.
  • Doesn’t sound good. – Expressing disapproval of a suggestion.
  • Let’s not. – Suggesting to avoid doing something.
  • Wrong. – Disagreeing with a statement or fact.
  • I’d rather not. – Showing preference against something.
  • Not my thing. – Indicating something is not of interest.
  • Not now. – Declining something for the moment.
  • That won’t work. – Disagreeing with a proposed idea or plan.
  • Think again. – Suggesting reconsideration of a thought or idea.