A paradigm of natural beauty, the butterfly is a long-standing symbol that represents faith, transformation, and freedom. Traditionally, the butterfly has also been closely connected to femininity and...

Butterfly Tattoo Meanings

A paradigm of natural beauty, the butterfly is a long-standing symbol that represents faith, transformation, and freedom. Traditionally, the butterfly has also been closely connected to femininity and romantic love, which is why butterfly tattoo designs are so popular. In this article, we review the different potential meanings that a butterfly tattoo can have, the most popular and successful butterfly tattoo styles and locations, and other designs that butterfly tattoos pair well with.

Butterfly Tattoo Meanings

As one of the most beautiful creatures in the animal kingdom, the butterfly is a popular choice for tattoos. There are a variety of possible meanings that the tattoo wearer can associate with their butterfly tattoo.

One of the most common butterfly tattoo meanings is that of freedom, as butterflies are a flying insect with prominent wings. As it allows the bearer to move and travel freely, flight has long been associated with freedom and liberty, particularly because humans don’t have the ability themselves. And because butterflies begin their lives as an earthbound caterpillar, later on breaking free and developing the ability to fly, they are also often associated with hope.

Another strong association with the butterfly is the meaning of rebirth, resurrection, change, and metamorphosis. After all, the butterfly is one of the only creatures that begins its life as one thing and transforms completely into something else, often considered to be even more beautiful and perfect than before.

Butterflies can also be associated with the concept of the butterfly effect, which is the theory that one small event, like the flap of a butterfly’s wings, can, through a series of cause and effect, ultimately lead to a major change in the world, such as a tornado. In this way, a butterfly tattoo can represent power, the randomness of life, and the importance of one’s actions, no matter how insignificant they may seem.

Depending on the features of a particular butterfly tattoo, there are potential other meanings to be found, as well. For example, a blue butterfly tattoo design is typically a sign of good luck. Meanwhile, a yellow butterfly tattoo typically represents happiness. In Scotland and Ireland, a yellow butterfly near a grave is a sign of a soul that is at peace. And white butterflies are a symbol of purity and salvation, especially in Christianity.

The species or design of the butterfly tattoo can also impact its meaning. The Monarch butterfly is a classic symbol of royalty. In Mexico, they’re also believed to be a sign of souls returning for the Day of the Dead. In contrast, a Japanese butterfly is a symbol of marriage that commemorates anniversaries and weddings and a Celtic butterfly has come to symbolize the afterlife, transformation, and creation, as in Irish folklore, butterflies were symbols of the human soul.

Top Butterfly Tattoo Styles

Butterflies are one of the most beautiful things found in nature, making them look great in nearly any tattoo style. Here are just a few that are particularly fitting for this design.

Single-Needle Butterfly

Naturally delicate and intricate, butterflies look great rendered as a simple, single-needle tattoo, a style that is particularly popular right now.

American Traditional Butterfly

With its solid lines and eye-catching colors, American traditional, also known as old-school, is a great tattoo style for butterflies.

Watercolor Butterfly

Known for bringing out the color, magic, and natural beauty of its subject, watercolor tattoos pair quite nicely with the butterfly tattoo design.

Tribal Butterfly

A more graphic and even more traditionally masculine tattoo style, tribal is a popular choice for butterfly tattoos for men. (Of course, that doesn’t mean it isn’t also a great option for butterfly tattoos for women.)

Realistic Butterfly

If you’re interested in making your butterfly tattoo into a sleeve or want to create an effect as though an actual butterfly came and landed on you, a realistic tattoo style is the perfect choice for you.

Best Places for Butterfly Tattoos

Realistic Watercolor Butterfly Tattoo Design

Source: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/af/03/d2/af03d25586c00dfc5518ef2032b6902f.jpg

Butterfly tattoos can look fantastic on any body part, but they’re especially cool when the placement can make it look like the butterfly just landed on your body, which is one reason why the shoulder is a very popular location for butterfly tattoos.

Other common choices for butterfly tattoo placement on the body include:

  1. The upper arm
  2. The wrist
  3. The lower back
  4. The ankle
  5. The back
  6. The side
  7. Behind the ear
  8. The collarbone

What Designs Work Well With Butterfly Tattoos?

If you like to get multiple tattoos close to each other, design complex tattoos with multiple elements, or want your butterfly tattoo to fill up a large part of your body, you may be looking for ideas for other designs to combine with your butterfly tattoo. Here are a few options that work well for inspiration.

Butterfly and Skull

Butterfly and Skull Tattoo Design

Source: https://www.cuded.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/52-skull-tattoo1.jpg

A skull typically represents mortality, and a butterfly represents new life. Together, these tattoo designs are symbolic of the circle of life and the ties between life and death.

Butterfly and Rose

Butterfly and Rose Tattoo Design

Paired with a rose, the butterfly is a symbol of love. In Greek, the word for butterfly is ‘psyche,’ which is also the name for the god of love.

Butterfly and Flowers

Half Butterfly and Half Flowers Tattoo Design

Source: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/be/a6/75/bea675174a9e41811f00e9d352f1fc05.jpg

Generally speaking, butterflies pair quite well with natural imagery, especially flowers, as these are two of the most delicate and beautiful tattoos that people (especially women) like to get – and butterflies are often found fluttering near flowers.

Butterfly Tattoo Dictionary

Blue Butterfly Tattoo Designs:

a blue butterfly tattoo design is typically a sign of good luck.

Butterfly wings Tattoo Designs:

as a cocoon emerges into a butterfly, it flaunts large, colourful wings. As such, butterfly wings have come to represent transformation and metamorphosis.

Butterfly with Rose Tattoo Designs:

paired with a rose, the butterfly is a symbol of love. In Greek, the word for butterfly is ‘psyche,’ which is also the name for the god of love.

Celtic Butterfly Tattoo Designs:

In Irish folklore, butterflies were symbols of the human soul. Celtic butterflies have therefore come to symbolize afterlife, transformation, and creation.

Japanese Butterfly Tattoo Designs:

this unique butterfly is a symbol of marriage which commemorates anniversaries and weddings.

Monarch Butterfly Tattoo Designs:

the Monarch butterfly is a classic symbol of royalty. In Mexico, they’re also believed to be a sign of souls returning for the Day of the Dead.

Skull and Butterfly Tattoo Designs:

a skull typically represents mortality, and a butterfly represents new life. Together, these tattoo designs are symbolic of the circle of life and the ties between life and death.

White Butterfly Tattoo Designs:

in the context of Christianity, the white butterfly represents salvation. It’s also a symbol of purity.

Yellow Butterfly Tattoo Designs:

typically, a yellow butterfly tattoo represents happiness. In Scotland and Ireland, a yellow butterfly near a grave is a sign of a soul that is at peace.

It’s rare that we see things in nature that are as eye-catching as butterflies are. Each kind has its own allure, and each one has a unique meaning depending on its cultural background. Getting a butterfly tattoo is a fantastic way to add a bit of extra beauty and meaning into your life and onto your body.

See More Tattoo Meanings

Check out our growing list of amazing tattoo designs and their meanings.

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