Tattoos are as unique as the people who have them. People with tattoos love when others ask about their meaning and significance because much thought goes into their designs. Asking someone about their tattoo can teach you a lot about that person!
These tattoos belong to celebrities, and each piece has a story that reflects its owner. Sometimes the story is a bummer–like tattoos that feature an ex-lover’s name, but sometimes the story is beautiful, like the stars on Rihanna’s neck!
Lily Collins has two tattoos on her upper back, both of which have gotten a lot of attention. She added the tattoo below her “Love Always and Forever” upper back tattoo during a trip to South Korea in July 2016.
Artist Tattooist Doy did the new ink, and it features a nude woman sitting on a lily pad in the fetal position. The lily pad represents her name, Lily.
Lily describes the significance of the tattoo on her Instagram page, “Flashing some back for #fbf. A beautiful keepsake from an incredibly memorable Korean adventure. Thank you @tattooist_doy for adding your artistry to my personal collection. Self love is the most important kind #LoveAlwaysandForever #lilypadinbloom #KrazyinKorea…”
The tattoo we see here is a “g.” We assumed it was a “j” signifying her on-again, off-again with Justin Beiber. Our sources tell us that the initial stands for Gracie, her sister, born in 2013.
Gracie Elliot Teefey is technically Gomez’s half-sister. When the Disney alum was 5-year-old, her parents–Ricardo Gomez and Mandy Teefey–got divorced. Mandy then remarried Brian Teefey, and they welcomed baby girl Gracie in June 2013.
Meaning: Sisterly love.
We think every tattoo shop should have a sign hanging on the wall that reads, “But what if you break up?” Subtle. Simple. Necessary.
So, Angelina Jolie expressed her undying love to Billy Bob Thornton in the form of this tattoo. As soon as their love died, she started attending regular laser removal sessions to erase it from her arm and memory.
In 2003, Angelina told the press, “I’ll never be stupid enough to have a man’s name tattooed on me again. It took five visits to the tattoo removal clinic to erase the dragon, and you can still see it a bit.”
Meaning: Life-long commitment.
This line, “We will all laugh at gilded butterflies,” was penned by Shakespeare in his play King Lear.
This line has become an expression. It means that just as gilded (suggesting gold-coated) butterflies cannot fly, their beauty and wealth are useless. This line was used as a metaphor to explain royalty trapped within the royal court or the wealthy trapped within their lifestyle.
Meaning: Pretentious and skin-deep beauty is fake and will eventually be exposed.
Lana Del Rey
The tattoo on Lana Del Rey’s left hand says, “Paradise.” In an Interview, Lana said, “Death and paradise for me are linked. I expect after my death, something very calm and relaxed. This can already be described as paradise.”
We were hoping it meant something whimsical and light-hearted. We should have known Lana would bring the heaviness!
Meaning: Death is a kind of paradise.
Jessica Alba has a small tattoo of the Sanskrit word “Padma” on her left wrist. The word means “sacred lotus.” In an interview on The Late Show, Jessica explained that she got the tattoo after a breakup. She said, “It means the manifestation of spiritual beauty.”
In a 2016 interview with Allure, the actress said she wished she could tell her younger self that tattoos are forever. She said, “You’re never going to be in the same place emotionally and mentally at 18 that you are at 20 or 25 or 30. Something meaningful to you when you’re younger is not going to be meaningful to you five years later. Understand that tattoos are forever. I have a few tattoos. I’m not into them now the way that I was.” She doesn’t seem to mind this tiny tat since it’s still there!
Meaning: Manifestation of spiritual beauty.
The tattoo on singer Katy Perry’s right arm has received a lot of Internet attention (kind of like everything she does)! She and her then-boyfriend, Russell Brand, got the same tattoos–both on their right arms. Both tattoos read ‘Anuugacchati Pravaha,’ which means go with the flow.
Though she and Brand are no longer a couple, she seems to be okay keeping the tattoo, which–to us–means she believes the message of the tat!
Meaning: Go with the flow.
We could write a whole article about David Beckham’s tattoos alone. He’s got a lot of them, and they’re all packed with deep meaning.
The one we’re choosing to focus on is the tattoo that runs down the left side of his body. It’s a passage from Confucius’ The Analects (生死有命,富貴由天). It means, roughly, “life and death have determined appointments; riches and honor depend upon heaven.”
Meaning: Heaven chooses your direction and purpose.
Rihanna has a tattoo featuring dozens of stars cascading down her back. This tattoo began as a tribute to her then-boyfriend, Chris Brown. Brown also has stars inked on his neck.
When Rihanna and Brown broke up after he was accused of assaulting her in 2009, Rihanna had the artist Bang Bang add several more stars to the neck tat, which differentiated the ink from that on her ex’s neck.
Rihanna has over 20 tattoos. She once told the press, “I like hanging out in tattoo shops. I am so intrigued by tattoos. It’s an entire culture, and I study it. Sometimes I go with friends, or just by myself. I get bum-rushed, but I don’t care. I don’t take security.”
Meaning: Keep moving forward.
Kendall Jenner has hundreds of millions of followers worldwide. Often, if she says something is cool, about a million people will do–or buy–that thing. We hope this isn’t the case with her lip tattoo!
In 2016, Kendall got a tattoo inside her lower lip that reads, “Meow.” During an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Kendall revealed that she got tattooed under the influence. “I was drunk! I was not thinking clearly,” she said. While she didn’t tell Ellen the meaning behind the tattoo, we’re going to take a guess . . .
Meaning: Don’t get tattoos when you’re under the influence.
Lady Gaga has a lot of tattoos. She got her first tattoo as a 17-year-old when she was a struggling musician with merely a dream of becoming famous. That particular ink was a treble clef she later had removed because it gave her parents “heart attacks.” When she had it removed, she had it done in style–tattoo Kat Von D is the one who removed it for Gaga.
Lady Gaga added her “Tokyo Love” tattoo while on a trip to Japan in 2009. The design is to commemorate the first time Haus Gaga, the musician’s creative team, worked with Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki. “I was honored to be the first American woman he’s photographed, and only the second pop artist, in the company of Björk,” Gaga told Interview Magazine. “He signed the Polaroids ‘Tokyo Love,’ and the Haus [team] got tattoos of his marking in celebration.”
Meaning: A commemoration of working with Nobuyoshi Araki.
Lena Heady has a colorful red lotus flower tattooed on her upper back. Red lotus flowers symbolize love and the way our hearts open up slowly to–eventually–reveal our full selves.
In an interview with MORE magazine, Headey admitted, “I always want more. It’s a terrible thing. I’ll be outside a tattoo shop and hear the needle and think, ‘I could just get a little one that nobody would see … ‘” Headey continued, “It’s something you can’t run from. You have to sit and find a way through [the discomfort]. I find a real calm, a real peace to it.”
Meaning: I am becoming my full self.
Miley Cyrus is a big fan of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. During an appearance on The Tonight Show, Miley said, “I’ve always loved John and Yoko. I’m such a big Yoko fan.”
She later revealed to Howard Stern on The Howard Stern Show, that the handwritten note from Ono came after she lost her house in the Malibu wildfires, confirming Sean Lennon (the couple’s son) brought the note to her while they were recording a song together. “Those relationships have been so valuable to me.”
Meaning: A commemoration of her love for Yoko Ono.