Latin Tattoos, Designs, Pictures, and Ideas

latin tattoosLatin, being at the heart of nearly every romance language, has a definite appeal that few other languages have. It is also considered to be a practically dead language unto itself, and thus has a certain unique charm to it. Many famous quotes and phrases can be culled from this dialect, and so the use of it has inspired many Latin tattoos to flourish.

Simple – usually black hued – Latin tattoos that feature single words or short phrases are the most popular style in this genre. These phrases state things that speak to the wearers, or express how they see themselves. Sayings like ‘temet nosce’ (or ‘know thyself’), ‘audax at fidelis’ (‘bold but faithful’), and ‘luctor et emergo’ (‘I struggle but emerge’) are very popular phrases for this particular style. Some people like to expand a bit on the simplicity and add borders of flowers, chains, or even ornate Victorian-style picture frames. Though less common, you may see Latin tattoos that feature an open book that expresses a certain theme with one or more translated phrases.

People in certain professions – such as military and medical – also gravitate towards Latin tattoos. For a military theme, many people use phrases such as ‘pro patria’ (for one’s country), ‘semper paratus’ (‘always prepared’), and ‘haec protegimus’ (or, ‘this we defend’) are all popular slogans, and may be surrounded by things like flags, dog tags, weapons, or birds. People in the medical field usually use phrases like ‘dei gratia’ (or ‘by the grace of God’), ‘bona diagnosis, bona curatio’ (‘good diagnosis, good cure’), or ‘non sibi sed omnibus’ (‘not for myself, but for all’). These are usually placed in banners wrapped around items such as the caduceus, star of life, or even ancient anatomy structures.

Many people like to place their Latin tattoos within other symbols. These symbols may include religious icons like within a banner across a Latin cross, circling within an ouroboros, or around a pentagram. Things such as flowers, stars, and even hearts are also quite popular for this style. Some people also like to shape the words into patterns; re-shape them into symbols like sunbursts, crowns, or in the shapes of animals.

Although Latin may be extinct in the modern world, these ancient words of wisdom – with all of their distinctive beauty, and marked symbolism – still resonate with us in a way that modern languages still cannot. This alone may be why Latin tattoos are, and will likely remain a very fashionable choice.


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  1. David Said,

    A good number of these Latin tattoos are beautiful, and the sentiments behind many are attractive. People considering getting a Latin tattoo, however, should be very much on their guard, as it is all too easy to get things wrong. About 40% of the tattoos shown here are incorrect, either not making sense properly or, worse still, being complete nonsense. Many show the errors of automatic Latin translation programs, which cannot work for the language. For future translations it is certainly worth having expert input on the tattoo translation. A site like Classical Turns (www.classicalturns.com) can carry out translations into Latin – or Ancient Greek – of any word, phrase or passage at a fast turnaround with prices beginning from the lowest rate available online. CVRATE VT VALEATIS!

  2. JT Said,

    @ David

    idk which ones are incorrect, as I do not speak/read latin. But I DO KNOW that “Luctor Et Emergo” is correct. As it is the motto of Dutch’s province Zeeland. It stands for “I struggle and I emerge”. I’m thinking about getting it….

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