Trinidad & Tobago Finally Gets Its ‘Steups’ Emoji

The long-awaited “steups” emoji, designed by Trinidadian photographer Sarita Rampersad who shared it on Facebook with an invitation for netizens to use it.

For some time now, social media users from Trinidad and Tobago — and perhaps even users across the region — have been agitating for a Facebook “steups” button.

What exactly is a steups? Simply put, it's the noise that happens when you suck air past your teeth, and it is accompanied by an exasperated facial expression — complete with lip pursing and eye-rolling — to express disapproval, criticism or objection.

The louder or longer the steups, the more irritated the person is and, given the abundance of topics that regularly make Trinbagonian Facebook users suck their teeth, the need for the “steups” emoji is serious.

There was widespread hope that the request would reach Facebook via Maxine Williams, the company's Head of Diversity, who is Trinidadian and gave an open lecture at the University of the West Indies’ St. Augustine campus last year on the topic of “Social Media and the Creation of Global Communities”.

Williams herself posted about the experience:

Lovely evening at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Trinidad campus. It's a special treat to be on home turf, with folks who raised you up, sharing the common understanding that the choice is not a binary one of ‘local’ versus ‘global’. We can think global and act local with the benefit of everything the world has to offer through connectivity and social connection.

And maybe therein lies the urgency of the “steups” emoji. When it comes to social connection, Caribbean netizens often want to put their unique stamp on their online interactions via the virtual “steups”.

Following the event, at least one Facebook user reported that she had told Williams of the “steups” emoji request — so although April 2018 marks a year since Williams’ lecture, there might still be a possibility that the social networking giant will come through.

However, photographer Sarita Rampersad, an avid Facebook user, decided that Trinbagonians had waited long enough: she designed a “steups” emoji and posted it on her Facebook page with the comment:

Yuh welcome FB.
Feel free to teef :)

You're welcome, Facebook.
Feel free to steal/use.

Up to the time of this writing, her post had attracted more than 150 “Likes”, and 65 “Shares”. Commenters were very complimentary, confirming that they plan to use the image when commenting online.

Colin Hamilton added:

The roll of the eyes give it emphasis ….??

Anne Fung added:

Wish u could put some sound to it!! True Trini lips!!

Appreciative Facebook user Rhoda Bharath referred to Trinidad and Tobago's highest award and quipped:

Order of the Republic for you, oui.

When one commenter asked Rampersad whether she planned to protect the intellectual property on the “steups” emoji, she replied:

Lol it’s a public service!


  • Robby

    I’m curious how people will adopt this as it’s just a picture and not part of any emoji library. Hardly a story if you ask me.

    • Well, that’s kind of the point. In lieu of an actual “setups” reaction button on Facebook, people have been adopting it as just that — a photo they’ll attach as a reaction to comments, just as they would a GIF or any other image. And they’ve been using it on other social networking platforms as well, including WhatsApp.

    • That’s absolutely true; it’s not a part of an emoji library. Therefore, it’s not truly an emoji. There has been some talk of a steups emoji for some time.

      This image is popular for those that say it’s popular which makes it popular, and the cycle continues. I’m not as taken with it as some, but there are at least a vocal few who are taken with it.

      All told, this or an emoji like it probably should make it into a library, but a steups really needs context. I’d say that a steups emoji library could have at least 10 different base expressions. ;-)

  • WS

    Trinidadians are doing themselves no favours by identifying this rude and contemptuous habit with their culture and trying to export it to the rest of the world. Using it even in that country marks you as a person without upbringing or class. It is banned in French schools (where it is called the “tchip”) because it is considered rude and insulting () And frankly, hearing someone’s saliva rolling around in their mouth is just plain repulsive. Trinidadians, I know how much you want to have something to point to that is unique and singularly yours, but have some taste for f*ck’s sake. Stick to carnival and socal – If the “steups” goes mainstream, it is not going to make anyone respect your culture more.

  • Brown sugar

    As long as I can remember this has been in my Carribean Culture. I’m from Central America w Jamaican Ancestors & yes it was considered by my Parents as rude but we used it behind their backs. I use the word quiet often in my text & yes I welcome the Emoji to match. Stop beating up on the “Trinies”

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