72 Classic Tattoo Meanings to Help You Choose a Design

Written By Wise Healthy n Wealthy

Are you planning your next tattoo?

Well, knowing about tattoo meanings could be the difference between a design you cherish or despise!

For example, if you’re religious, you might want a tattoo that showcases your dedication to your faith. And if you’re a nature lover, a tattoo of a deer or sunflower could be more appropriate.

To help, I’ve put together this comprehensive guide to tattoo meanings and symbols!

symbolic tattoos and their meaningsHere we go, then: 72 symbolic tattoos and their meanings!

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Animal Tattoo Meanings

1. Deer Tattoo Meaning

Deer tattoos are often associated with grace, gentleness, and the natural world.

They’re also a symbol of good luck and prosperity.

2. Red Butterfly Tattoo Meaning

These tattoos are often associated with transformation and change.

They can also symbolize passion, love, and rebirth. You can also pair butterflies with various color meanings. For example, blue denotes calm, and orange signals health and vitality.

3. Horse Tattoo Meaning

These tattoos are commonly associated with freedom, strength, and power. They’re also a symbol of independence and the ability to overcome challenges.

4. Fish Tattoo Meaning

These tattoos are often associated with water, which can represent emotions or the unconscious mind. Fish can also symbolize fertility, prosperity, and abundance.

5. Coy Fish Tattoo Meaning

This specific fish tattoo is usually associated with good fortune, prosperity, and abundance. It’s also a symbol of love and affection.

6. Leopard Tattoo Meaning

This tattoo is often associated with power, strength, and agility. It also symbolizes stealth and the ability to adapt to different environments.

7. Hawk Tattoo Meaning

This tattoo is often associated with vision, focus, and the ability to see things clearly. It’s also a symbol of power, strength, and leadership.

scorpion tattoo meaningOne of the scorpion tattoo’s meanings is protection, check out the other ones here!

8. Scorpion Tattoo Meaning

These tattoos are often associated with transformation and rebirth. They can also symbolize strength, protection, and the ability to overcome challenges.

9. Cobra Tattoo Meaning

This tattoo is often associated with power, strength, and protection. It also symbolizes wisdom and the ability to see through deception.

10. Serpent or Snake Tattoo Meaning

In general, these tattoos are associated with transformation, rebirth, and the cycle of life. They also symbolize wisdom and the ability to see through deception.

11. Jaguar Tattoo Meaning

This tattoo can be associated with power, strength, and courage. It also symbolizes stealth and the ability to move silently and quickly.

12. Wolf Tattoo Meaning

Wolf tattoos are often associated with family, loyalty, and intelligence.

They also symbolize protection and the ability to adapt to different environments.

A lone wolf can be a great tattoo for someone independent or who has achieved success in life alone.

13. Rabbit Tattoo Meaning

These tattoos are often associated with fertility, abundance, and good luck. They also symbolize quick wit and the ability to adapt to different environments.

14. Shark Tattoo Meaning

Shark tattoos are commonly associated with strength, power, and determination. They also symbolize adaptability and the ability to survive challenging situations.

tattoos with meaningNext up: some religious tattoos with meaning when it comes to our faith.

Religious Tattoos with Meaning

Top tip: if you’re considering a religious tattoo, be sure to do your research into the faith beforehand! You can get into trouble if you don’t.

For example, there’s much debate amongst followers of Islam over whether permanent body tattoos are haram (forbidden).

Common Christian Tattoos

15. The cross is a symbol of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the salvation of believers.

16. The fish symbolizes the Christian faith because it stands in for the Holy Eucharist, when Jesus multiplied bread and fish for the people.

17. The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and peace. For example, in the story of Noah’s Ark, Noah sent out a dove to see if the flood was receding.

18. The anchor is a symbol of hope and stability. Because it resembles a cross, Christians see it as a symbol of their faith.

19. Hands clasped in prayer symbolize devotion and seeking God’s help in troubled times.

20. The crown of thorns symbolizes the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Common Buddhist Tattoos

21. The Buddha (also called “Bodhisattva”) has numerous meanings for believers. Some believe the image represents the contentment they find in their religion. For others, the philosophical leader symbolizes enlightenment and spiritual awakening.

22. The Om symbol represents the universal consciousness and the unity of all things.

23. A lotus flower is a symbol of enlightenment and spiritual growth.

24. A mandala symbolizes the universe and the interconnectedness of all things.

25. A Dhamma (also written “Dharma”) wheel represents the teachings of the Buddha and the path to enlightenment.

Common Hindu Tattoos

26. The Trishula is a symbol of the Hindu trinity and the power of the divine.

27. Ganesh is the Hindu god of wisdom and success and is often depicted with the head of an elephant.

28. Shiva is the Hindu god of destruction and regeneration and is often depicted with a third eye and a trident.

Common Islamic Tattoos

29. Kufic script is a form of calligraphy used in Islamic art and is often used to write the name of Allah or passages from the Qur’an.

30. The Hamsa hand symbolizes protection and is used to ward off evil.

31. The name of Allah, when used as a tattoo, represents devotion to the Islamic faith.

32. The star and crescent (or the crescent moon) are spiritual symbols of Islam and are often associated with the Prophet Muhammad.

weapon tattoo symbols and meaningsHunting for weapon tattoo symbols and meanings? The next section should help!

Weapon Tattoos

33. Gun Tattoo Symbols and Meanings

These tattoos often relate to power, protection, and the ability to defend oneself. They can also symbolize rebellion or a “bad boy” image.

34. Sword Tattoos

Swords are commonly associated with strength and courage.

Like the gun, they also warn others that you can defend yourself. A sword might equally symbolize justice or a knightly code of honor.

35. Dagger Tattoos

These tattoos are often associated with stealth, cunning, and close combat prowess. They can also represent betrayal or danger.

36. Axe Tattoos

Like other bladed weapons, axes often denote strength and power.

In some cases, an axe tattoo might mean the wearer has overcome or “cut through” obstacles. It can also represent a connection to nature or a warrior spirit.

37. Bow and Arrow Tattoos

Bow and Arrow tattoos are often associated with skill, accuracy, and the ability to defend oneself from a distance.

They can also symbolize hunting or a connection to nature.

38. Spear Tattoos

Similar to axes, spears have a strong connection with our ancient past that has some links to tribal tattoo meanings.

39. Shield Tattoos

Shields showcase protection and/or the ability to defend oneself. They can also symbolize loyalty (think medieval knights!).

40. Katana Tattoos

Katanas are traditional Japanese swords that are often associated with honor, discipline, and the samurai code of bushido.

olive branch tattoo meaningOne of the olive branch tattoo’s meanings is peace. Find out what other plant and flower tattoos symbolize in this next section!

Plants and Flowers Tattoos

41. Olive Branch Tattoos

The olive branch tattoo meaning is a symbol of peace and reconciliation.

42. Poppy Tattoos

Poppies symbolize sleep, death, and the afterlife.

Since World War I, they’ve been linked with remembrance and memorials, commemorating soldiers who fell in battle.

43. Clover Tattoos

This is one we’re probably all familiar with! Clover tattoos symbolize good luck and prosperity.

44. Rose Tattoos

Roses are an enduring symbol of love, beauty, and the passage of time.

In Victorian times, different colors of roses (or the depth of color in a rose) had different meanings, such as red for love and yellow for friendship. This idea endures today.

45. Sunflower Tattoos

The sunflower symbolizes happiness, hope, and the sun’s life-giving warmth. These cheerful blooms are also associated with loyalty and adoration.

46. Daisy Tattoos

Sweet daisies denote innocence, purity, and the passage of time.

47. Orchid Tattoos

The orchid is characterized by ideals of beauty, refinement, and luxury.

Fun fact: there are around 25,000 types of orchids, with many occurring naturally. That makes this a tattoo idea with plenty of options!

48. Lavender Tattoos

Lavender is a symbol of calm, peace, and relaxation.

49. Tulip Tattoos

Tulips are the national flower of the Netherlands, so those with Dutch heritage might consider getting a tattoo of this flower.

For anyone else, they symbolize love and passion!

50. Cherry Blossom Tattoos

Cherry blossom is a wildly popular flower in Japan. People picnic under the cloud-like blooms in spring.

In China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and other East Asian countries, it symbolizes the passage of time, the beauty of nature, and the fragility of life.

tattoos with deep meaningIf you are looking for more tattoos with deep meaning, Check out this one!

Tattoos With Deep Meaning

51. All-Seeing Eye Tattoos

The all-seeing eye symbolizes divine knowledge, protection, and seeing through deception.

52. Clock Tattoos

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a clock tattoo symbolizes the passage of time.

It can also serve as a reminder of the importance of making the most of one’s time on earth and the inevitability of death.

53. Heart Tattoos

The heartbeat denotes life, vitality, and the importance of taking care of one’s health.

For example, someone who had a near-death experience might choose to get a heartbeat tattoo.

54. Infinity Symbol Tattoos

The infinity symbol is characterized by eternal love, infinity, and the never-ending cycle of life.

55. Tree of Life Tattoos

Similarly, the tree of life symbolizes the interconnectedness of all living things and the cycle of life. Environmentalists rejoice!

56. Phoenix Tattoos

Have you suffered hardship and come out the other side?

Then, a phoenix might be the tattoo for you! This fiery bird symbolizes rebirth, renewal, and the ability to rise from the ashes.

57. Yantra Tattoos

A yantra is a geometric symbol used in Hindu and Buddhist traditions and is believed to have spiritual and protective powers.

meaningful tattoo ideasCheck out these meaningful tattoo ideas about the sky and space…

Sky and Space Tattoos

58. Cloud Tattoos

Clouds are meaningful tattoo ideas representing change, transformation, and the passage of time.

They can also symbolize the temporary nature of life and the constant ebb and flow of emotions.

59. Lightning Tattoos

Lightning symbolizes power, energy, and the ability to overcome challenges. It’s also sometimes associated with transformation and the power of the divine.

60. Star Tattoos

Stars showcase a person’s hope or need for guidance. They might also represent someone’s dreams and aspirations or the infinite possibilities of an ever-expanding universe.

61. Sun Tattoos

The sun keeps all life on earth, well, alive. Therefore, it’s seen as a symbol of life, vitality, and divine power. It’s also associated with warmth, energy, and the passage of time.

62. Moon Tattoos

The moon is a symbol of mystery, the unknown, and the power of the unconscious mind.

Some people also get the moon tattooed on their bodies to represent what humankind can achieve through technology and intelligence.

63. Planet Tattoos

This one’s complicated! Each planet and group of stars has its own unique meaning, from star signs like Capricorn and Libra to ancient beliefs regarding gods and the planets (like Mars, the ancient Roman god of war).

64. Space Shuttle Tattoos

A space shuttle (or space rocket) symbolizes exploration, innovation, and the pursuit of knowledge.

65. Astronaut Tattoos

An astronaut symbolizes bravery, adventure, and the human desire to explore the unknown.

Some people might get an astronaut (or space shuttle) tattoo as a tribute to British singer and songwriter David Bowie.

66. Meteor Tattoos

Meteors and comets are symbols of change, transformation, and the power of the unknown.

They’re sometimes associated with the fleeting nature of life too.

circle tattoo meaningIn the following section, I’ll run through the circle tattoo meaning and what other shape tattoos mean as well! 

Shape Tattoos

67. Circle Tattoos

The circle tattoo meaning is one of unity, wholeness, and infinity. Circles represent the never-ending cycle of life.

68. Circle with a Dot Tattoos

If the circle has a dot in the center, it’s known as the “third eye”—a symbol of enlightenment, spiritual wisdom, and the ability to see beyond the physical world.

69. Triangle Tattoos

Triangles symbolize balance, harmony, and the unity of the body, mind, and spirit. In Christianity, an equilateral triangle can stand in for the Holy Trinity.

70. Square Tattoos

The square symbolizes stability, order, and the material world. It’s associated with the idea of being grounded and practical.

71. Diamond Tattoos

Diamonds are the hardest and most transparent naturally occurring gemstones.

That’s why they represent strength, clarity, and the ability to cut through obstacles.

Since the 1940s, people have also associated diamonds with preciousness and value.

72. Ouroboros Tattoos

The Ouroboros is circular because it’s a serpent eating its tail.

This ancient symbol was revered in ancient Egypt and Greece because it represented rebirth.

All the Tattoo Meanings You’ve Ever Wanted to Know!

Now that you know some of the most popular tattoo meanings, all that’s left is for you to book that appointment.

Do your research to ensure you choose a reputable, skilled, and hygienic tattoo artist. Remember, tattoos are permanent!

For more great tips and tricks on all things life, head back to our website and browse our other lists. This post is a great place to start!

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