Teardrop Tattoo Meaning

Some tattoos seem to hold a negative connotation and perhaps, none is more widely known than the teardrop tattoo. Often seen just under the eye, the teardrop tattoo is widely known as a symbol of killing another human being, but is this the truth or just another urban myth?

Teardrop Tattoo Designs 

Typically, a teardrop tattoo is found on the face and may resemble prison tattoo art, as this is where the tattoo originated. Most often found in the under eye area or on another area of the face, the tattoo resembles the shape of a real tear and is often solo in nature. The tear tattoo may be filled with additional art to indicate liquid, blood or other symbology, but most often is not intricate in nature.

What Does the Teardrop Tattoo Mean? 

The original meaning behind a teardrop tattoo was that a person had killed another person, lost a loved one or been raped in prison. In fact, this was a way of “marking” an inmate as the property of another person or humiliating the inmate while in jail, as a tattoo on the face cannot be covered up or hidden. When teardrop tattoos became popular as gangster tattoos, criminal tattoos and as an eye tattoo among mislead young people, these individuals may not have realized the message they were sending wasn’t necessarily one of being tough, rather one of being victimized.

Symbolism of Teardrop Tattoo and Meaning of Tattoo Variations

There is much debate over the meaning of a teardrop tattoo on face. A prison tattoos meaning often mean one thing to those incarcerated, another to law enforcement and yet another to the general public. In some cases, the meaning of tattoos can change over time.

  • Clear Teardrop: A clear teardrop is typically assumed to mean that a person has only attempted to kill another person. This tattoo can also signify that a loved one has died, either naturally or to violence. When worn in this manner, a clear teardrop can indicate that the wearer seeks vengeance.
  • Left or Right Eye: In some gangs, what eye the tattoo is under symbolizes killing  a person, losing a friend or an inner turmoil. For instance, a tattoo under the left eye might symbolize killing a person, while a right eye tattoo can symbolize personal pain or loss.
  • Other Possible Meanings: In some cases, this tattoo simply means a person has done time in prison, is a rape survivor, as a symbol of regret for past sins or as a symbol of being hardened by life.

Best Tattoo Placement

Most often, the best tattoo placement for a teardrop is beneath the eye or on the cheek.  Some people may wish to incorporate teardrop tattoos into more traditional tattoos, which can completely change the meaning associated with prison tattoos.

Teardrop tattoo

The Message Teardrop Tattoos Convey Is: 

No matter what you believe the meaning behind a teardrop tattoo might be, the obvious message is one of sadness and pain. In some cases, the pain may be self pain or inflicting pain on another, which ultimately results in self pain.

If You Wear a Teardrop Tattoo You are Likely to Be: 

From a psychological standpoint, those who wear this type of tattoo are likely to be somewhat narcissistic in nature, as the tattoo is about the self rather than others or the world at large. Some wearers of this tattoo may be violent, severely victimized or simply wish to express their inner turmoil to the world. However, a person with this tattoo is also likely to be extremely loyal, perhaps to a fault, as well as strong and able to live through turmoil. Often a tough exterior may be off-putting to others, while the true ‘soft heart’ of the wearer is covered up to prevent being hurt. Many individuals with this tattoo live with regret at past wrongs and feel their appearance represents this.

Reasons to Choose a Teardrop Tattoo:

A tattoo on the face is a serious choice that cannot be easily reversed. Reasons to choose a teardrop tattoo are few, if any. This is mainly due to the negative connotations the tattoo is associated with. In some cases, a famous person might wish to convey a false bravado. In other cases, those associated with a gang lifestyle might wish to show solidarity or express pain at the death of a loved one. Even so, a teardrop tattoo is typically not a good choice for the average person.

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