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47 Powerful Arrow Tattoo Ideas For Men & Women

Photo: Getty
woman with arrow tattoo on arm

Arrow tattoos have been around since long before Instagram influencers 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?)

What is the meaning of an arrow tattoo?

Back then, arrow tattoos 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, and they may have a variety of meanings depending on the person who chose their own.

The placement of an arrow tattoo might be symbolic or strategic.

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.)

RELATED: 50 Simple & Elegant Tattoo Ideas For Women

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.

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 astrological sign. Sagittarians love flaunting this tattoo because it displays what their sign represents: Laid back but also ambitious.

1. A bow and arrow with wings.

2. A floral bow and arrow.

3. Minimalist bow and arrow

4. Feminine bow and arrow

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 arrow's trajectory is moving onward into the future, whether the future is known or unknown. 

5. Geometric bow and arrow

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. 

6. Broken bow tattoo

7. Classic American style broken arrow

8. Broken arrow tied together with rope

9. Black and white broken arrow

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 the strong bond they have with each other. 

10. Simplistic bundle of arrows

11. Geometric bundle of arrows

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. 

12. Simplistic compass and arrow tattoo

13. Traditional compass and arrow

14. Compass, arrow, and dreamcatcher

15. Detailed compass and arrow

16. Arrow, globe, compass, and map

Crossed Arrows

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

17. Minimalistic crossed arrows

18. Crossed arrows with initials

19. Crossed arrows with pointillism moon

20. Crossed arrows with an infinity symbol

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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.

21. Cherub Cupid

22. Intricate Cupid and bow

23. Colorful Cupid's bow tattoo

24. Realism heart and arrow tattoo

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. 

25. Diamond and arrow with wings

26. Colorful diamond and arrow tattoo

27. Arrow breaking through a diamond

28. Arrow with a rose and diamond

Downward Arrow

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

29. Minimalistic downward arrow

Photo: Hannah Grace / Unsplash

30. Dotwork and downward arrows

31. Lotus flower and arrow down the spine

32. Arrow and evil eye

Feather Arrow

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

33. Minimalistic feathered arrow

34. Feathered arrow with flowers

35. Intricate feathered arrow with a rose

36. Feathered arrow ankle tattoo

Left Pointing Arrow

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

37. Left-pointing arrow shoulder tattoo

38. Left-pointing forearm arrow tattoo

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. 

39. Arrow finger tattoo

40. Large arrow tattoo

Photo: Matheus Frade / Unsplash

41. Constellation arrow tattoo

42. Colorful lotus arrow

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. 

43. Arrows through an arm

44. Colorful arrows

45. Crossed arrows

46. Crossed arrows with a mountain

47. Arrows with names

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.

RELATED: 50 Tattoo Ideas For Women Looking For Big Or Small Meaningful Designs

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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