Tattoo Symbols of Friendship (They Leave A Mark)

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Body art, including tattoos, have from prehistoric times served as personal means of self-expression. Tattoos serve many functions, including sending various messages which have to do with friendship. Tattoos can specifically represent certain friends or have a more general friendship symbolism.  Choose carefully, especially for permanent tattoos. 

Body Art

Body art, including tattoos, has been an important means of personal expression from primitive times.  The body provides a personal canvas for self-expression. 

Various forms of inks and dyes can provide a permanent symbol on your own personal canvass.  Other tattoos are more temporary such as henna.  

Trivia: the word “tattoo” arose from a Polynesian word for “mark on the skin.”

The location of the tattoo can also be important. Some people have tattoos that are visible to everyone.  Some tattoos are more private.  A tattoo can also be well placed to send various messages (including sexual).  The person might just think the tattoo looks good in that place. 

Choosing a tattoo is a very personal decision. Some people feel tattoos are inappropriate for various reasons.  If you do choose to obtain one, think carefully about what you wish to say.  


A basic factor when deciding what sort of tattoo to obtain is to determine why you are getting one.  I assume here the answer is not just “I had too much alcohol.”  

Experts tell us tattoos can have many purposes. They served as “amulets, status symbols, declarations of love, signs of religious beliefs, adornments and even forms of punishment.”  

Tattoos are popular ways to show friendship and love.  What better way to show friendship than by means of a permanent marking on your body?  It can be a sign of everlasting friendship.  

Each purpose of body adornment is likely in some fashion to involve friendship. For instance, fellowship in religious movements often involves a form of friendship.  “Comrade” or “friend” is a traditional greeting in communist circles.  Tattoos for such movements can be “friendly.”  

If you decide a tattoo is right for you, they can be good symbols of friendship in many ways.  

Types of Friendship Tattoos 

The reasons for getting tattoos are diverse, but let’s look at five basic categories.    

[1] Specific Friends 

People often have tattoos for which various symbols are used to express their bond with specific friends. The tattoo can have a special relationship to the friend (such as their name, sign, or favorite flower).  Some tattoos are the very faces of beloved friends.  

The tattoo can be a type of “inside” reference that only the friend would truly understand.  Or, it can be something more widely known to show others your bond. 

A friend can be symbolized via a tattoo by their personality or by a personal nickname. A friend named Katherine might be symbolized with a cat.  An Irish friend might be a shamrock.  

[2] Matching Tattoos 

This is a creative approach where two parts of a heart are separately inked.  

When the arms are put together, a heart is formed.  This can be a symbol of two friends who have a special bond. They are two people, but have joined together in one friendship.  

Their initials also might be put in the middle of the heart.  Body art provides lots of possibilities.  Note also the use of writing, which can include a friendship message.   

Friends might also have matching tattoos, either the same symbol or two symbols (such as a ying/yang, sun/moon) that can go together.   If a tattoo is on a person’s wrist, for instance, the matching tattoo can be together. The two friends can show their tattoos side by side.  

[3] General Friendship Symbols

One popular tattoo is a tree.  A tree provides the option to represent more than two friends.  Three trees, for instance, can represent different friends, with the size of the tree a symbol of the age and/or size of the friend.   A tree can also have many branches, each a friend. 

Any number of friendship symbols can be used as tattoos. A tattoo might just be for decoration.  But, they often have a specific meaning.  A butterfly, for instance, is one symbol of friendship.  A butterfly tattoo can be a symbol of friendship.   

[4] Everlasting Friendship

When I researched this topic, everlasting friendship tattoos were a popular subject.  

I think a basic reason why is that tattoos inherently are “everlasting.”  You can obtain temporary tattoos.  Permanent tattoos can be removed, if painfully.  Tattoos still are rather permanent.  And, everlasting friendship is not literally everlasting.  

If a person is going to obtain a tattoo to symbolize friendship, it is not surprising if they wish to send a special message about the enduring nature of their friendship with someone else.  

Three examples of eternal friendship tattoos would be foreign language writing (e.g., “forever friendship” in Chinese), an eternity friendship knot, and the Irish Claddagh ring symbol.   

[5] In Their Memory  

A tattoo also might be obtained in memory of a friend who passed away or somehow was lost. 

Friendship is often fleeting.  That is okay.  Maybe, the friendship ended badly.  Or, unfortunate events, such as a childhood friendship ending because of a move, occurred.  

A tattoo is one way to remember friends.  Friends might get matching tattoos to remember each other.  Or, a tattoo can be obtained later in memory of the friend no longer present.  


Personal Tattoo

I myself once got a tattoo.  It was in honor of a specific birthday and consists of my zodiac sign (Scorpio) with my initials.  A special meaning while also something I thought cool.

Tattoos are particularly personal symbols.  It involves people inking something on your body after all (it didn’t really hurt in my case, but it can be painful too).  Others might not like your choices.  It’s your call.  Still, do realize that when people see your tattoo, it is a symbol too.  

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