It’s a common misconception that every tattoo needs to mean something. Sometimes, it’s about the work of art itself and the skin is the canvas. Other times, though, tattoo designs to have a deeper mea...

Tattoos Meanings You Wouldn’t Expect

It’s a common misconception that every tattoo needs to mean something. Sometimes, it’s about the work of art itself and the skin is the canvas. Other times, though, tattoo designs to have a deeper meaning than the obvious. Modern Family actress Sarah Hyland recently got one of these tattoos. Her ink looks like a geometry symbol, but it’s actually an homage to one of her favorite quotes by Robert Frost – “the best way out is always through”.

These seven tattoo designs have meanings that you probably wouldn’t expect. We scoured the internet to find the most mysterious tattoos, so if you see these when you’re out and about, you’ll know exactly what they mean.

Trinacria Tattoo

Trinacria Tattoo of Woman's face and Limbs

At first glance, this looks like some kind of macabre ode to Medusa, and it kind of is! This symbol can be found on the Sicilian Flag, and represents Sicilian culture. The word “trinacria” refers to the shape of the island of Sicily, and is a homage to what the Romans used to call the island – Trinacrium, which means star with three points.

Getting into the nitty gritty: the bent, running legs represent the island’s three coasts – the north-east, the west, and the south, which also happens to form a three-pointed star. The wheat surrounding the head in the centre represents the fertile land of Sicily. FInally, the head of Medusa in the centre signifies the island’s protection by the patron Goddess of Sicily, Athena. The reason it’s shown as the head of Medusa relates back to an early Roman legend, where the head of Medusa is shown on Athena’s shield.

Semicolon Tattoo

Wrist Semicolon Tattoo

The semicolon symbol was part of a powerful social movement against the stigma of mental illness. The movement was called “Project Semicolon”, and was started by Amy Bleuel in 2013. A symbol of support for people with depression, addiction, and suicide, it means “my story isn’t over”. The aim for this project is suicide prevention and overall mental health advocacy.

If you see someone with a semicolon tattoo, it likely means that they’re struggling with mental health issues, or that they’re showing support for someone who does. Sadly, Bleuel lost her mental health battle, but the project lives on in her honor.

Hamsa Hand Tattoo

Hamsa Tattoo with Eye

The Hamsa Hand, or the Hand of God, is popping in tattoo culture more and more. It’s an ancient, beautifully intricate design, but did you know that it has many meanings associated with it as well? In Middle Eastern culture, it’s a symbol to protect all faiths, bringing the owner happiness, luck, health and good fortune.

It’s also seen as a good luck in Jewish culture, and can often be found in Jewish households to ward off evil intentions or bad luck, and bring positivity and protection to the home. No matter what culture or religion this symbol is applied to, the meaning is a positive one of protection and blessing.

Om Symbol Tattoo

You know this symbol by sound, not its physical representation, but this is the Sanskrit icon for “om”. There are a ton of different meanings behind this term, depending on which ancient texts you consult and who you ask. At its core, the word/sound is a link to the cosmic, the divine, or a higher power. It’s said to celebrate the universe’s creative powers as well.

The Sanskrit ‘Om’ can also be symbol of one’s consciousness; there are several differences in the specifics of the meaning for many different people, but the base meaning is a connection to the one’s self and the universe as a whole.

Miscarriage Tattoo

Miscarriage Tattoo

This an extremely personal tattoo. There are many variations of designs out there, and you might think that this is just a tattoo to symbolize that this woman just had a baby. Unfortunately, the meaning is a bit darker – this design is a memorial tattoo for a baby that was lost in utero. Miscarriage tattoos are a popular way for moms to commemorate the life of the baby they were nurturing for days, weeks, or months.

Vegvísir Compass Tattoo

Vegvisir Compass Tattoo Design

The Vegvísir compass means more than just a kickass, witchy tattoo design. It’s a magical symbol of navigation and protected guidance in Norse mythology. It comes from the Huld Manuscript. The legend says that “if this sign is carried, one will never lose one’s way in storms or bad weather, even when the way is not known. The direct translation from Icelandic means “guidepost”, so this compass is pretty literal in its meaning.

Dual Meaning Tattoo

This tattoo means two different things, depending on what angle you’re looking at it from. From a forward facing view, it says “I’m Fine”, but if you look at it from the angle of the person who’s inked, it says “Save Me”. This is a really ambiguous tattoo. It could mean that the person wants to be saved from themselves, or their own personal demons, or it could be that this person is in a situation of domestic abuse and needs to be rescued. Whatever the specific meaning for this person, it’s a cool illusion of a tattoo.

Not every tattoo has an obvious meaning to the outside eye, but to the person who’s inked, they can mean something much deeper than you’d ever expect.

See More Tattoo Meanings

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

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