What's The Arrow Tattoo Meaning? Plus 47 Cool Arrow Tattoo Ideas

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arrow tattoos
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These designs will point you in the right direction.

What is the arrow tattoo meaning? Well, arrow tattoos have been around way before influencers on Instagram had them permanently painted onto their perfect skin, healed just in time before Coachella. In fact, their origin dates all the way back to Native American tribes hundreds of years ago. (I’m thinking certain feathered headdresses at Coachella look eerily familiar as well?)

Back then, the arrow tattoo symbolized the important hunting tool, the arrow, serving in hunter-gatherer tribes and also used as a weapon during war. Today, not all arrow tattoos are created equal. While it has many positive translations, the arrow can symbolize some personal progress that is being undergone.

The placement of the arrow tattoo might be symbolic to you as well. Want a small arrow design? Your ankle, wrist or even your finger are the perfect spots to show off your art. Larger arrow tattoos are most popular on larger parts of the body like arms, legs and spine. (And getting it on the spine hurts like you wouldn’t believe.) 

So when your mother clutches her pearls after she sees your arrow tattoo, you’ll be able to tell her the deep meaning behind it. She might want to get one too. Matching tats with your mom! That’s not lame at all! Here are some meanings behind different arrow tattoo designs.

(Note: If this is your first time getting a tattoo, please remember that getting a tattoo is a major decision despite the popularity. Put a good amount of thought into it, and if you still are determined on getting it, then great! Don’t be shy with your tattoo artists. Ask as many questions as you need answered, especially their experience and qualifications. Getting a tattoo by a friend of a friend might seem like a great idea at the time, but it is really important to choose a qualified professional who has sterilized equipment.)

Arrow on a Bow

An arrow being pulled back on a bow symbolizes conflict, tension or life struggle. The arrow is literally being held back with the bow. One might get this tattoo because it looks beautiful, but on the other hand, it does represent suppression. 

This tattoo doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom though. Maybe your zodiac sign is Sagittarius. The bow and arrow is the symbol for that fire sign astrological sign. Sagittarians love flaunting this tattoo because it displays what their sign represents: Laid back but also ambitious.

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Arrow Released from a Bow

This one stands for a positive transition in one’s life — or more generally, for moving forward in life. The arrows trajectory is moving onward into the future, whether the future is known or unknown. 

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Broken Arrow

A broken arrow is symbolic of peace or the act of burying the hatchet — that is, breaking the weapon and calling upon harmony. Forgiveness. Moving past something that has been weighing them down for some time. 

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Bundle of Arrows

A bundle of arrows signifies strength and unity like family or a close group of friends. As a single arrow can be broken in half easily; a bundle of arrows is much more difficult to break. A group of people usually get this design to signify their strong bond they have with each other. 

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Compass Arrow

A new direction is set. It is signifying anything from a new chapter in life like career choice or a new relationship. Compasses are also known for being the symbol of guidance, so having an arrow placed inside of a compass depicts trust and action. 

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Crossed Arrows

Two arrows that are crossed represents friendship. (Besties get this one. So cute.)

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TotalBeauty

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Cupid Arrow

No brainer. This one represents love and romance. An arrow going through a heart is no mystery either — it’s a broken heart. 

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Diamond Arrow

This symbolizes the courage to move forward, or invincibility. The diamond is an indestructible element, and having the arrow penetrating it is a powerful design. 

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Downward Arrow

The downward pointing arrow represents peace. This type of arrow tattoo is meant to give your mind a rest.

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Feather Arrow

A feathered arrow stands for independence. Prove to yourself that you can handle anything on your own.

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Left Pointing Arrow

This symbolizes the desire to chase something away from you, like an evil wishers and negative energies. Or perhaps your own past?

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Singular Arrow

Defense or protection from harm or evil. If one or more person gets a single arrow (like you and your friends, or you and your family members), it is there to mean that their friendship or relationship will stand the test of time. 

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Two Arrows Pointing Away

This represents war or conflict. Someone who is interested in getting this design might feel like they are battling something personal in their life, or it could also mean that they are at war with an enemy (perhaps they don’t get along with someone in their family). It is one of the most aggressive arrow symbols to get as a tattoo but most definitely not uncommon. 

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Christina Wright is a New York based freelance writer covering entertainment, beauty, interior design and all things fashionably interesting. Christina mostly enjoys reading, and doing things “for the funny story later.”

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