Style - Tattoos
By: - at June 4, 2013

Most Common Tattoo Designs and their Meanings

Before Getting Inked
getting inked tattoo tattoosThe acceptance of tattoos has been on a steady rise with society embracing this type of body art as a form of individual expression. Despite its popularity now, it has not always enjoyed the kind of limelight it owns today. People from the previous generation regarded tattooing to be connotative, and thus quite unacceptable.

Deciding to get inked may be caused by different factors. For some, it is an expression of one’s spiritual views and for others, a symbol of pride for one’s heritage. Generally, they are drawn on the skin to convey messages the tattooed person wants to express. This can range from signs of harmony, strength, and love. Additionally, tattoos are used to communicate meanings permanently. The exquisite designs display messages without the need for verbal expressions.

Inspiration, appreciation, expressions and even misfortunes can be expressed by a tattoo on one’s arm or chest. It is essential that before deciding on a tattoo design, one has fully understood the meanings associated with it. Remember that the moment you get inked, it becomes an almost permanent statement.

Designs and their Meanings
Often, people get tattoos as a reminder of someone special. For many, it is one way to display respect for others, an important reminder that should not be forgotten. A name of a very important person that made an impact on someone’s life can be the most popular form. Additionally, it can be symbols or abstracts that symbolize a certain memory with that special person. Men and women are known to love an angel design which they may choose to cover their backs. Preferences for color of this design may depend on the meaning the person having this might want to convey.

There are countless designs to choose from for a tattoo. It is important to know that choosing just about anything is not a very good idea as every specific design has a meaning in association. Here are the most common tattoo designs and their meanings:

Anchor Tattoo Meaning:

Originally used by people involved in the business associated with the sea, the anchor is most often the design loved by sailors, navy, seamen, and other workers always out in the deep blue sea. With the popularity it continues to enjoy, it can now be seen inked on the arms of the rock stars, and even women. Popular meanings include safety, salvation and hope.

Meaning of the Angel Tattoo:

Seen as a representation of spirits that link heaven and Earth, angels are one of the most loved designs for a tattoo. It is regarded as a way of reconnecting one’s self to the spiritual world. Its popularity can be traced by Christianity’s belief in the holy guardians tasked to ensure the safety of humans. Popular meanings include keeper of safety, protector, and guardians.

Bat Tattoo Meaning:

Originally connected with Native American Indians, it has long been misunderstood to depict fear. This however, has been considered by the natives as a sign of honor. Being a highly sensitive creature, it is believed to help in the performance of duties by shamans and traditional healers. Because of the bat’s ability to see through the dark, a tattoo of this design would mean seeing the truth. Modern society considers it a design that means intuition, objectivity, and journey.

Meaning of the Butterfly Tattoo:

A highly symbolic creature, butterflies are popular symbols of grace and beauty. With its colorful and beautifully patterned wings, it is undoubtedly a very attractive one. Popular among women, it is used to express a great change. In some Asian countries, it depicts marital bliss and the beauty of womanhood. In many Western countries, it symbolizes transformation as the creatures undergo metamorphosis. Meanings include beauty, immortality, and change.

Chain Tattoo Meaning:

Widely used as a design that can take the place of a bracelet, necklace or anklet, it is one of the most popular designs chosen by both men and women. Chain tattoos are powerful images that symbolize freedom and bondage. When broken, it means freedom and being relieved from a burden. When connected, it conveys the meaning of being unable to do what was wanted, being enslaved, or imprisoned- physically or emotionally. Meanings range from freedom, slavery, and connections like marriage and friendship.

Meaning of the Cross Tattoo:

One of the most popular designs, a cross tattoo does not necessarily mean devotion to a single religion. Perhaps its popularity came from the fact that it has different meanings to many people. A variety of this is the Celtic cross with designs that include a knot or loop symbolizing the never-ending circle of life as the belief of the Celtic tribe of Europe. In Christianity a cross symbolizes the cruel way Jesus Christ died as a sacrifice. Its most known meanings include love, salvation and sacrifice.

Dove Tattoo Meaning:

An iconic symbol of peace, dove tattoo designs symbolizes end of conflict. It can be traced back to ancient Romans and Greeks, this design, especially when coupled with a branch of olive, represents the Eriene, the goddess of peace and harmony. It is also an expression of loyalty to Aphrodite, goddess of love and fertility. Alternately, it represents the connection of man to the Holy Spirit and the visions of hope. When the design is a pair of doves, it symbolizes marriage or union. Generally, it means peace, love and the Holy Spirit.

Meaning of the Dragon Tattoo:

The most popular symbol in Asia, the dragons is a symbol of power, being the ultimate messenger of psychic powers from nature. Originating from the Chinese belief, this creature is the most powerful symbol of wealth and prosperity. Additionally, it depicts continued success and achievement. In Japan, however, dragons are common characters in stories that explain the complicated nature of humans. It is believed that dragons carry messages pertaining to the feelings of the people. The popular meanings of this tattoo design include strength, power, and ruler of the elements of the earth.

Dragon Tattoo on chest Dragon Tattoo on back
Dragon Tattoo on back Scary Dragon Tattoo on back

Eagle Tattoo Meaning:

One of the designs that gained popularity even before the acceptance of tattoos, the eagle signifies different meanings. In the ancient period, it is closely related to the Greek god Zeus, thus, making it a symbol of power. In the modern society, it is common among those in the military, police officers and firefighters. For them, it represents love for their country. Being the king of the sky, this tattoo design represents strength, loyalty, honor and even spiritual growth.

Meaning of the Heart Tattoo:

Comes in a variety of designs, styles, and colors, this tattoo design is popular on the wrist, chest, or hip. Though its meaning varies from person to person, it generally symbolizes love and adoration. When one has a bleeding heart as a tattoo, it could represent a love that’s lost. When it is broken, it represents a most treasured relationship that failed, rejected love or loss of a loved one. A heart pierced with arrows or swords tend to depict messages that are unforgettable and painful memories of love. With the heart being the engine of the human body, this tattoo represents passion, love, friendship, and adoration.

Lotus Tattoo Meaning:

The second most popular flower tattoo design, the lotus is considered the most important flower in some parts of the world. This may be because of the religious symbolism it carries. For the Hindus, it is where the god Braham was born; in the same manner that Egyptians believe it represents the sun god, Ra. Because it thrives in muddy areas, it is known to mean surviving the hardships and struggles. Additionally, it represents beautiful transformation coupled with strength. Quite similar to the heart, it represents love, passion, beauty and strength.

Meaning of the Phoenix Tattoo:

Mythological in nature, this tattoo represents rebirth. This bird of fire is believed to live up to 500 years, building its nest and setting itself on a self-produced fire. Later on it comes back into a new being from the ashes of the fire it was consumed by. Typically, people would use this design for a tattoo to depict belief in experiencing and surviving something difficult. Seen in popular movies, this tattoo generally means rebirth or renewal of one’s self.

Rose Tattoo Meaning:

One of the most popular tattoo designs in the world, this carries a rich range of meanings. Being an epitome of beauty, the rose has irresistible fragrance and charm. With its beauty come the thorns which mean there is no easy way to being beautiful. When paired with a heart, or inked in bunch, it would mean love. When tattooed with diamonds, it symbolizes wealth. As with the meaning of the lotus flower, rose could also depict fertility. Most commonly, people choose a rose for a tattoo to signify love, beauty and fertility.

Sexy Red Head Girl with a Rose Tattoo on Shoulder Rose Tattoo on arm

Meaning of the Skull Tattoo:

Though it is often associated with death or mortality, skulls carry different meanings. People would generally go for skull tattoos as they also mean protection, power, escaping death, or surviving tough times. Despite the common belief that it depicts something demonic, gothic or dark, this actually tells us that we have to enjoy life as much as we can because death will come anytime. Generally, it depicts decay, death, strength, and courage.

Star Tattoo Meaning:

Just like the ordinary way we view stars, tattoos of this design says something about ambition, aims, and inspiration. For many, stars are the tattoo choice for those who wanted to permanently commemorate a great achievement in life. When tattooed with shooting stars, it means unforgettable moments that created great impressions in life. When it is a nautical star, it tells about guides and directions that helped achieve goals. This would also mean that the person will never get off track. When it is a pentagram or five-point star, the one pointing upward signifies balance but the one pointing downward means love for the dark spirits. The Star of David signifies humanity and balance in the world. If it is a nonogram, it means stability and achievement of goals. It is often associated with powers. Generally, a star tattoo could depict unforgettable events, inspiration, belief, and direction.

Meaning of the Sword Tattoo:

Generally connected with masculinity, bravery and strength, the sword symbolizes purification. It tells about the cleansing of the human soul, metaphorically, to be freed from bondage. As a symbol traditionally associated with men, it might as well say something about war and power. In Buddhism, the sword is the symbol of a mind that can spot right from wrong, thus, making it a symbol of ending ignorance. People who had this as a tattoo design might as well want to emphasize the importance of justice and honor.

Yin Yang Tattoo Meaning:

Based on Chinese philosophy that opposites attract, this design would also mean the two types of forces present in the universe. It means that both the elements of light and darkness are needed to achieve harmony. The colors represent the male and the female, the light and the shadow, and heaven and earth, etc. It depicts the message that one cannot be balanced without the other, and it is an expression of spirituality. Generally, people with this kind of tattoo would love to exhibit their belief in harmony and totality and oneness with the universe. Yin Yang also means peace to a lot of people.

Yin Yang Tattoo on shoulder Yin Yang Tattoo on shoulder
Yin Yang Tattoo on back Yin Yang Tattoo on back neck

Final Inking Thoughts
People who have a deep understanding of tattoos know that each design or line drawn on the skin represents what’s in the soul. Originally being used as an important part of culture, tattoos represent one’s rites of passage and symbolized status, as well as rank and membership amongst their culture. It is also a traditional way of expressing love, fertility, penalties, and decorations for a warrior’s bravery. With tattoos being a permanent expression of individuality, one has to know the meaning of the designs before getting inked. So before you sit on a comfy chair and get inked, be sure the meanings of the tattoo you have chosen tells exactly what you want others to know about you.





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