ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Tattoo Ideas: Symbols and their Meanings

Updated on November 3, 2013
The infinity sign is just one of many popular symbol tattoos
The infinity sign is just one of many popular symbol tattoos

My very first tattoo at age 18 was a teeny tiny black star on my stomach. I picked a tattoo parlor at random, endured the minimal pain, and now, twelve years later, that little star is a tasteful black smudge. As I got older, I learned to select more reputable tattoo parlors with better artists, and time after time I found myself going back to get more star tattoos.

Why is it that our minds adhere to a specific symbol above all others? For me, the stars and the constellations always held fascination. Travelers obeyed the stars long before there were maps or GPS devices; a star guided the Three Kings to Bethlehem, helped navigators plot their course. I'd spent many hours of my childhood lying in my back yard and gazing at the stars, so maybe this is why I ended up with 13 star tattoos.

Here are some other meaningful symbol tattoos that have grown in popularity over the years.

Infinity Symbol

The infinity symbol is depicted as a sideways numeral 8. It means "without limit" or "without end". Although traditionally a mathematical symbol, the infinity sign has been reclaimed by romantics to signify love without end, constantly recurring. This is best illustrated in the picture below of a married couple who each have the infinity symbol on the same place on their hands.

Infinity Tattoos

Translation:  "I love you from the earth to the heavens. I love you like a sideways 8."
Translation: "I love you from the earth to the heavens. I love you like a sideways 8."

Triquetra Symbol

The three interlocking triangles of the triquetra (sometimes drawn with a circle in the center) are symbolic of the unity of soul, heart and mind. Triquetra, in Latin, means "three cornered". The number 3 has long been a sacred and powerful number, i.e. the Holy Trinity in Christianity (the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit). It is commonly used today in the Pagan religion and Celtic art. You may remember it from the TV show "Charmed", where the three sisters used it to refer to "the power of three". I personally remember it from the day my mom called me with a great idea: she wanted me, my sister, and herself to all get a triquetra tattoo. I thought it sounded awesome! I was living out of state at the time, but was planning a trip home soon. I said that we could all go together at that time, but I guess the power of the tattoo was too alluring, because my mom and sister went and got theirs before I arrived! I never did end up getting mine :(

Triquetra Tattoos

The standard yin and yang symbol tattoo
The standard yin and yang symbol tattoo

Yin and Yang Symbol

The yin and yang is an ancient Chinese symbol used to illustrate the balance of nature. Many dualities exist in nature--hot and cold, up and down, fire and water, rain and sun--and although seemingly opposite and contradictory, these forces actually work in tandem. We could not have one without the other. Light cannot exist without first experiencing darkness, and humans could not recognize what is good unless they have known what is bad. Although classically a black and white symbol, the yin and yang has many artistic interpretations and can be drawn in a million different and unique ways.

"Yang is the initiating impulse, which divides and delineates; yin is the responsive impulse, which nurtures and reunites. Without yang nothing would come into being; without yin all that comes into being would die." --Twin Souls by Patricia Joudry and Maurie D. Pressman

Yin and Yang Tattoos

Ankh (ankh cross) Symbol

The Ankh symbol, sometimes called an Ankh Cross, is an ancient Egyptian hieroglyph that meant "eternal life" or "the symbol of life". The ankh is often depicted in Egyptian tomb paintings. It appears at the fingertips of a god or goddess in pictures of deities of the afterlife, leaving some scholars to theorize that the ankh could also be symbolic of conception. The ankh is frequently seen with two other hieroglyphs: djed (meaning stability) and was (meaning strength).

Ankh Tattoos

Mobius Strip Symbol

Take a strip of paper, twist it in half, then glue the ends together and you've got a Mobius Strip. Per Wikipedia's explanation in layman's terms, "If an ant were to crawl along the length of this strip, it would return to its starting point having traversed the entire length of the strip (on both sides of the original paper) without ever crossing an edge." The film "Inception", starring Ellen Page and Leonardo DiCaprio, is an excellent example of a mobius strip. Not only do the characters employ the use of mobius strips when creating the buildings in their dreamworld, but the dreamworld itself is one big mobius strip. It is, essentially, an optical illusion; it may look like something is 2- or 3-dimensional, but there is in fact only one surface with one side.

Mobius Strip Tattoos

Artist M.C. Escher's rendering of ants on a mobius strip
Artist M.C. Escher's rendering of ants on a mobius strip


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      3 years ago

      The third mobius tattoo is incorrect which is unfortunate. It's a difficult image to try and draw though so it's understandable.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thanks I really needed to know about the infinity tat and the meaning before I actually got it...... Thanks

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I have just had my first tat of the charmed symbol i love it i want more!

    • becauseilive profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from N.J.

      Thanks andycool! I appreciate your kind words :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Symbol tattoos are highly meaningful tattoo arts and signify deeper meanings about life! This article will guide tattoo enthusiasts in choosing their favorite symbol tattoo designs and encourage people to ink more such tattoos. Great contribution to the tattoo world as always by you. Thanks for sharing!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)