They have become ubiquitous on computers and smartphones. From the bog standard smiley face to halos, aeroplanes and deep-fried prawns, emojis are now used by an estimated 90 per cent of the world’s internet users – 3.2 billion people.

But one of Britain’s leading experts in language and communication has said the colourful glyphs do far more than just brighten up our text messages to friends and family. In a new book, Prof Vyvyan Evans, says they actually help men and women get on better with each other, because the images clarify a message’s meaning.

“Men frequently take a statement by their significant other at face value when, in fact, there is an underlying meaning,” he said. “For example, when a guy says to a woman, ‘I’m going out with my mates,’ and the woman replies, ‘Fine, do whatever you want,’ she is actually testing his judgement. She is saying, ‘You should know me well enough by now to know that I will not be fine with that.’

“Understanding that communicative intention is key to a harmonious relationship.”

And, Prof Evans argues, men are more likely to understand that communicative intention if it is conveyed in writing along with an emoji.