125 Stunning Anchor Tattoos (With Rich Meaning)

A long time ago, it was believed that anchor tattoos belonged on those who worked in businesses associated with the sea. That could mean sailors, seamen, navy personnel and others who worked in the deep blue seas and sailed on the beautiful and mighty oceans. Recently, the scene has changed and now the anchor tattoo has gained quite a bit of popularity. In fact, the anchor tattoo is no longer always associated with the seafarers.

People in the rock scene have begun to add their own flavor and design to this tattoo and are doing so with a great deal of enthusiasm! It has also become the design of choice with the fairer sex and it looks pretty awesome. It’s also grown in popularity among the Christian circles as a symbol of strength and stability. Lots of missionaries can be found around the world with a small anchor inscribed on their wrist, behind their ear and on their ankle.

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The anchor tattoo has meanings that are far greater than just the sea and the ships that it holds steady. In fact, in the past, it was believed that the anchor design was used to camouflage and shelter the symbol of the Holy Cross. This was done to avoid being targeted and persecuted, but at the same time be able to display their faith and what it meant to them. This was a fearless move on their part and they used this clever ruse to keep their faith strong but not have it on full public display. It’s a rather ingenious way to declare their faith while avoiding religious persecution.

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Since an anchor is what puts down roots deep into the sea to hold a ship in place, it has been associated with strength and stability. By this association the anchor can be seen symbolically as something that holds you in place and provides you the strength to hold on no matter how rough things get. In a nutshell, an anchor does what an anchor is supposed to do. It’s a reminder for people that no matter what happens, they will get through it. Life can be hard and sometimes you need to have the little ray of sunshine to remind you to hold on through the good and the bad. That’s the beauty of tattoos. Often they that little (or big) reminder of hope or peace.

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Many people pick an anchor tattoo design to remind themselves that no matter how stormy and rough things get out there, you need to hold on and keep doing the right thing. Some anchor tattoos are dedicated to the near and dear ones who’ve played this role in your life. Sometimes it’s someone currently in your life, a loved one who has passed on or just someone who has had a profound impact in your life. This person has usually provided you the strength and wherewithal to hold on no matter what comes your way. They’re quite literally your anchor in the storm. It’s really cool to think about someone having that big of a role in your life and what an amazing way to honor them through the anchor tattoo. Each time you look at it or someone asks you about it, it will remind you of that special person and the lasting impact they’ve had on your life.

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Check out the awesome quote in that tattoo. “I refuse to sink.” Powerful stuff.

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The symbolism and meanings of an anchor tattoo go beyond mere aesthetic appeal. It has spiritual, emotional and practical meanings. Symbolizing a faith that would not give up in the face of abuse and persecution has to be probably one of the most spiritually profound significances of the anchor tattoo.

On an emotional level, it is quite touching when the anchor represents someone in your life who has been the anchor that helped hold you together. On the physical level however, the anchor represents one of the elements of nature that fascinates us the most – the sea! There is something so adventurous and ominous about the great ocean. It holds so much power and strength and yet an anchor is able to withstand the strength of the mighty sea. It holds fast to the ship, never wavering or losing the ship no matter how rocky the waters.

Check out the beautiful Cross beside the anchor on the sides of the finger. Beautiful.

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We can be sure that the sea evokes some kind of strong emotion in all of us. Some of us love the ocean and some of us don’t like it all. There are some of us who fear it which is completely understandable! The ocean is very powerful and can be quite intimidating. But one thing we cannot feel towards the sea is complete and absolute indifference. An anchor tattoo is so fascinating because it can withstand the force and power of the sea! It doesn’t let go of the ship, just like that person in your life doesn’t let go of you. Whether it’s calm or choppy seas, the anchor in your life holds you steady.

No matter why you are getting an anchor tattoo, it will carry with it the weight of its meaning and significance at a deeper level. Pick a motif that goes with your beliefs. Choose a location you where you will place the tattoo. Decide if you want it to be in an area where people will often see it and ask questions or if you’d rather have it in a spot that can be easily hidden. You can add more weight to an already significant design by choosing to have a message added around it. This way the world will not have to guess why you got an anchor tattoo in the first place. But just know that people are always inquisitive when it comes to tattoos so being open to sharing your story or reasoning behind it might be a good idea.

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“Be the one who guides me but never holds me down.”


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Great choice of placement for this anchor! Choosing where to put your anchor is an important decision. Talk it over with your artist and then choose the spot where you think it will be best for you.

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Tattoos have such a powerful impact on us, the people around us and our culture at large. It’s amazing to see how people’s tattoos tell a story of what is happening to them and to society as a whole. When choosing your anchor tattoo, think about what you want it to represent and if you want to impact people along the way. Many people are inspired by each other’s stories and struggles as well as their triumphs and victories. Your anchor tattoo is unique to you for a special reason. Consider sharing it with people when they ask about it. Wouldn’t it be cool if your tattoo was the story that inspired someone else?


        • Hi Marta, there’s a point when we start expecting a lot from other people. It’s okay cause it’s a human tendency that comes naturally at one point in every individual. But that won’t stop you. Go ahead and brush up yourself and become perfect for yourself. Let every man think that I want a girl like her instead of you thinking to be every man’s dream girl. And that will be the time when you will have many options and you can chose what your heart wants. And you will get that 1 best person who truly deserves you 🙂

          Stay strong. And be happy 🙂

    • Just remember; tattoos are like a living journal of someone’s life put into imagery rather than just words. Some people really do have a story to tell & others merely plagiarize.

    • It’s not stupid, seeing that the birds are pulling the anchor away from the ocean. I like it and I have an anchor on my wrist and have been looking for a good saying to put around it.

      • I had my anchor tattoo done today i totally love,
        I symbolizes stability an confidence.

        My tattoo for me means
        ‘That even tho i hit rock bottom 1 to many times, sinking was neva a option or thought’
        I REFUSE TO SINK!,,,,

    • the anchor can be seen symbolically as something that holds you in place and provides you the strength to hold on no matter how rough things get, in other words I REFUSE TO SINK, its not stupid, it makes perfect sense

      • The achor was a symbol for persons who crossed the atlantic. Which was a symbol of knowlege… well this has nothing to to with the anchor.. but a swallow tattoo was a symbol of someone whom had sailed 5k nm. Which as a nautical star underneath the swallow was a symbol for each 1k nm more sailed…. In those ages. 1nm was quite the distance to sail. So the anchor has nothing to do with not letting the ship dredge away but for crossing the atlantic

    • Not silly for some. Many females, particularly Little’s, have this as an affectionate reminder to herself and her Dom that thru all the stress and confusion of life, her ” daddy” holds her safely in place. It means the world to them. I am a navy man, but do not have the anchor myself. I have many others, but would find it most honoring if my lady put it on herself just for me. I would find it as love and respect at a very deep level,,,, no pun intended….

    • The meaning is fairly simple in this tattoo if you think outside the box rather than just literally. Yes, anchors sink and catch hold to keep your boat “life” from moving forward or rising above obstacles. The birds carrying the anchor away is symbolism for not letting life’s troubles holds you back and achieving your dreams.

  1. I recently got a tattoo done on my wrist and it includes an anchor. I dont agree with it having a religious side to it. it can mean anything to anyone, it may have special meanings for each person

    • The anchor as a religious symbol is far older than as a symbol for crossing the Atlantic. As it was mentioned in the text of the article, early Christians were often persecuted for their beliefs and one way to show their alliegence with other believers was to use symbols with hidden meanings; the anchor, the fish, the crooked staff, etc. In the book of Hebrews, the author (unknown to scholars, but believed to be Paul or Barnabas) states to the converted Jews who are wishing to return to an Old Testemant style of life because of persecusion, to “pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” (Hebrews 2:1) The “it” being the truth of the Gospel. As many of the early Christians were sailors and/or fishermen, the anchor provided a symbol for them to relate to. But, that aside, if you wish to portray the anchor as something else or pull a different meaning, it’s yer ink and yer skin.. 😉

    • I got an anchor tattoo recently as well and honestly, it has no meaning behind it. My girl got her tattoo expanded and made me want one so I got an anchor and I think it’s adorable. Whether there’s a meaning or not. Don’t judge someone by their tattoos. They are still human! Tattoos are becoming more welcoming into this time and age and I love it!

  2. So I want a tattoo. And an anchor it is. I’m just a lil skeptical though since I already have one in my wrist. What will the people say to me when I get old? A tattooed granny. Oh God.

    • Lol Addie. I was thinkinh the EXACT same thing. I want one on my wrist and back of my neck but I no I’ll be a granny one day……..so im undecided.

  3. well .. u see.. Gone is the tym, when ANCHOR as tatoo was only done by people relating to sea. but the trend has changed… and now it is all about strenght and stability

  4. Actually, in my recollections, an anchor means having crossed the Atlantic. A dragon is for crossing the Pacific, and a sailing ship is for transiting around the horn of South America. Well, I went through the Panama Canal, so I rate a sailing ship- I think!

  5. I’m thinking of getting a small anchor tattoo either on top of my index finger or on the side of my right hand and my meaning is simply to remember my roots and just always be sinked into where I came from.

  6. Sorry you guys, but if you don’t sail, then you haven’t earned your anchor, unless the tattoo is in memory of a sailor. Also, an even bigger pet peeve is the swallows. If you haven’t sailed 5,000 NM then you are a poser. Also, the Bible clearly states against tattoos.

    • Firstly, a tattoo can mean whatever a person wants it to mean. There’s no law to say you can’t get a certain tattoo done just because you think it’s means a certain thing. When it comes to getting tattooed, as far as I’m concerned, it’s my skin, my body, my choice. Nothing to do with anyone else.
      Secondly, you’re clearly against tattoos, so I don’t get what you’re even doing on here. As for what it says in the bible, who cares?! I definitely don’t!
      I have a swallow tattoo that means something personal to me. Who are you to judge me and others like me for that?!

      • You should definitely care what the Bible says. Don’t say stupid stuff that you will have to answer for later. You will have to answer to Him one day and then what..I promise you will care then. 3rd Mate wasn’t judging you only giving his opinion like everyone else. Don’t be so ignorant.

        • oh BAH. not everyone is a christian. wake up and smell the coffee, baby. not everyone believes like YOU believe, believe it or not.
          we’re not all going to be judged by your god, ok?

          • Yes everyone will be judged by GOD (the one and only) and there’s no way around it, believe or choose not to believe its your choice… But for Christians its our job to inform you that Jesus died for all of our sins and all you have to do is acknowledge that he is your savior and anyone can be saved… And for the people that need “proof”, ask Jesus to come into your heart and show you the way and he will, then you will have your undeniable proof. He loves us all and excepts us even tho we are sinners, he doesn’t except us to live a life of no sin or wrong doings…he knows that is impossible for us to do and is the reason he died for us.

    • yes, i agree. I think anchor tattooes are deserved to be inked on the skins of our brave sailors at sea. no to posers, and the wanna-be’s.

  7. I just got an anchor on 12/13/14. Next time that kind of date takes place is 1/2/03. We sail. My 1976 sailboat has crossed the Alantic. I have sailed roughly 5k nm on 6 different boats so I have learned on this web sight I could put a swallow under the anchor next time I get inked, cool, thanks. Murr 1976 Heritage 39

    • I love that SOMEBODY is actually sticking with traditional tattoo values. Now anchors are ruined by girls and hipsters. Not to be a prick to them, but anchors used to have significance.

  8. i lost my dad October 2014. I am currently working on my tattoo design in his memory. It is going to be two designs into one. My dad was the anchor that kept our family together, so it is going to be an anchor with flowers and heart and doves with a banner.

    There have been a lot of comments about anchors and the sea but to me the anchor symbolizes more then just the sea…just my opinion.

  9. Hello,

    Well…. I got my Anchor Tattoo yesterday and l am gonna love it. For me an Anchor is something that helps, saves and rescue others. It is a symbol of hope and strength….. so no matter how deep water is.


  10. I don’t have my anchor tattoo yet… I’m pregnant… But when I do get my anchor the meaning behind it. Its for my beloved grandparents that just recently passed away together ❤ they loved to fish and when my brother and I was little we spent every weekend on the boat fishing. And we would sit there and watch my grandpa clean the ? and my grandma would fry it up in the kitchen.. So that’s my meaning behind the anchor…

  11. Im getting an anchor tattoo with my son’s name with it bc when he was 2months old he had liver failure and became blind and almost die. The anchor to me means that his strong and can pull out of the deepest oceans even without sight

  12. I’m not a sailor, so I won’t get a fucking anchor. Tattoos used to tell a story, now they just boast “hurt feelings”.

    • “hurt feelings” are what pushes most people through their day everyday..
      Long story short I was abused and almost killed by my ex fiance. I was in a coma for almost a month and had to relearn how to walk, talk, read, write and function as a normal human being.
      When I finally woke up, it was my sisters of Delta Gamma that were there to help, no one else. They helped me while I was there, took my back to our house and continued everyday to pick me up when i fell (literally) and help me make it through each day with a smile on my face. Delta Gamma’s symbol is an anchor. Standing for Hope, it helped so much to have so many sisters have hope that I could resume a normal life.
      So my anchor tattoo stands for the Hope that my sorority sisters had in me and reminds me that no matter what my DG sisters will be there.
      It is an anchor with the date I was released from the hospital with the word H.O.P.E standing for Hold On Pain Ends.

      So screw you with your “hurt feelings” and “tattoos used to tell a story” I think mine tells a great story.

      • I agree completly with you! And your story was so touching, I hope you are nowadays living an happy life. I too am going to have an anchor tattoo because it represents hope to me and I’ve been bullied and I contemplated suicide everyday but only thing that kept me going was hope of better tomorrow. So I decided i want an anchor with text “there is always hope”. It makes me mad that these people think that you have to be a sailor to use the symbol that happens to have a meaning of hope. I stand with you and don’t listen to those boasting fools about you not deserving the tattoo, in my eyes if anyone deserves it, it’s you. We all are aboard the ship of life and we are captains of our own ship and sometimes we go through hard times in our life when there’s only storm in horizon but we kept our hope for the storm to end.

  13. The one with an anchor drawn on the back of both hands and words underneath, is not a tattoo, they’re drawn on by black marker.


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