Tattoos Speak Louder Than Words

Even the trendiest of tattoos hold meaning.

Grace Bouker, Tom Tom Staff

Globally, tattoos are becoming increasingly popular. According to a report done by the Pew Research Center, more than one third of America’s young adults have at least one tattoo. Many people get tattoos to express themselves, honor someone, or –most popularly– remind them of something.



Among the most popular tattoos in today’s culture is the arrow. Depending on how it is depicted, the arrow takes on different meanings, but most commonly, an arrow represents courage as one moves forward. It signifies perseverance, positivity, and courage. Two arrows pointing opposite directions usually represent defense. Two crossed arrows symbolize friendship, and this originated in both the Bible and in Native American culture. A bundle of arrows illustrates strength, because a single arrow is fragile, but a bundle of arrows is harder to break.




The semicolon has a more intricate meaning than most realize. In 2013, Project Semicolon was born from a social media movement. It was a movement dedicated to honoring hope and love to those struggling with depression, addiction and suicide. The semicolon is supposed to represent their struggle, but then represent victory– the conscious decision to not end, but create a new beginning.



The compass tattoo originated in sailors, who would wear this symbol as protection and a beacon of hope. The star compass, originating from the North Star in the Bible, stands for direction and guidance. Other compass tattoos resembling a compass rose convey following dreams. It is symbolic for staying on course in life and not giving up, no matter how rough life gets.


The EKG line comes from a heart rate monitor. This particular tattoo depicts the preciousness of life. Some get this tattoo to remember someone special, celebrate the victory of avoiding death, or simply as a reminder that death is only a heartbeat away, and life should not be taken for granted. The EKG line tattoo has innumerable variations, and is one of the most commonly personalized tattoos. Many have inked in a heart or personal words or phrases.


Generally, anchor tattoos are a reminder that no matter what happens and no matter how difficult life can get, you will get through it. Since an anchor puts holds ships in place in the sea, it has been associated with strength and stability. Originating but not confined to Christianity, it also has spiritual and emotional meanings, symbolizing that a true faith will not give up amidst persecution. This tattoo also can represent someone who has been an anchor in your life and helped hold you together.