Tattoo Ideas: Sparrows and Swallows

Many sailor tattoos were modeled after the blue Barn Swallow
Many sailor tattoos were modeled after the blue Barn Swallow

First and foremost, let's understand the difference between swallows and sparrows. They are NOT the same thing. They are not the same bird and have vastly different meaning between them. The words swallow and sparrow cannot be used interchangeably. Swallows are a traditional old-school tattoo symbolizing enduring love that first appeared on sailors during the World Wars. Because swallows are known to always return home to San Juan Capistrano each year without fail, it was believed that sailors with a swallow tattoo would always return to their homes and families as well. Because swallows never fly too far from home, the sight of a swallow by a sailor was a symbol of hope; it meant they were close to land. Sailors with one swallow tattooed on them had traveled over 5,000 miles and a sailor with two tattoos had traveled over 10,000 nautical miles and denoted a very experienced sailor. If a sailor had the misfortune of dying at sea, legend had it that a swallow would carry his spirit to heaven. And if a sailor had a friend who passed away, he may get a tattoo of a swallow with a dagger through it's breast. But swallows are also an enduring symbol of love and loyalty, as swallows are monogamous creatures. They choose only one partner and will mate with them for life.

Many swallow tattoos were modeled after the barn swallow native to Europe. Blue in color, with a long, forked tail, barn swallows make their nests out of mud and are believed to represent the free blue sky and eternal happiness.

The sparrow is a smaller, shorter-tailed bird
The sparrow is a smaller, shorter-tailed bird

Sparrows, on the other hand, are small, brown-grey birds with stubby beaks. They are land-dwellers who subsist primarily on seeds and insects. They are NOT the tattoo to get if you're seeking to illustrate love and loyalty, or paying homage to a relative who worked as a sailor. Sparrows do have their own special symbolism, however, having been featured prominently in several works of literature. In the New Testament, Jesus assures his disciples that even a sparrow cannot fall without God's notice, implying that no suffering goes unnoticed. Likewise, Luke 12:6 says, "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God." In "The Dark Half" by Stephen King sparrows function as creatures that carry spirits from the land of the living to the land of the dead.

Swallow and sparrow tattoos are great accentuations to a woman's natural curves
Swallow and sparrow tattoos are great accentuations to a woman's natural curves

Despite the masculine, maritime history of the swallow, they have exploded onto the tattoo scene among men and women alike as one of the most popular images currently. Whether keeping the original Sailor Jerry 1940s design or streamlining the bird's form to fit the curve of a woman's hip, understanding the symbolism of a swallow or mistaking it for a sparrow, both birds are representative of the beauty of flight and the immense freedom it brings.

SWALLOWS Tattoo Gallery

SPARROWS Tattoo Gallery

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Comments 146 comments

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taylorblue 9 years ago from Canada

Some of those are really pretty! Good job!! Again!

Zoe 9 years ago

Some nice tattoos, but I have to say I'm disappointed - for an article that states how different sparrows and swallows are, ALL the tattoos under "Sparrow tattoos" are actually swallows. Sparrows do NOT have forked tails, and are NOT blue, red, or any other color.

kaila 8 years ago

I loveeeee sparrow tattoos! i think they are amazing! im only 16 right now but as soon as i turn 18. im getting 2 of them on my lower hips with a banner that says "awesomness" because im known for saying that word alot. well i just want to say that :)

<3 ya

Kaila Martin

Erik 8 years ago

Yeah.. at 16 years old.. you should think a bit more about that,, awesomeness for the rest of your life? just 'cause you say that word alot doesn't mean that's gonna be something you're gonna keep saying. For me, tattoos should have symbolic meaning, whether it represents a loved one, or has some other ambiguous meaning.

and in no way can i find any symbolism in awesomeness.

lia 8 years ago

i wanted to get two sparrows with a banner on my hips but now that i know ppl who say awsomeness will have one too in a few years i'm re thinkin it

freckles 8 years ago

i am 17 and my friend has offered to lend me there id so that i can get a swallow tattoo. I've read loads about what it meant to the sailors etc and how it represented how much they have travelled and there love for family and friends so I have decided to get 1 at this point in my life, and then a second one after another big event in my life like the birth of a child. what do people think of this idea and how hard would it be to get 2 tattoos that look alike if there is a big time period inbetween?

matias 8 years ago

i just got one swallow two days ago and im getting the second one this weeked

they are really beatiful

leslie 8 years ago

i got a swallow tattoo today. i got it to cover the initials of my first husband who passed away several years ago. I'm re-married and now have children whom I didn't want asking questions about the initials on my arm that were not their fathers. I got a banner but nothing in it yet. Need advice on a word(s) to put in it. Any ideas

Svala 8 years ago

Hi! I'm 16 and I KNOW that I'm going to get a pair of swallows on me some day. Why? becouse the swallow simbolizes some prety meaningfull things, plus, It's also my name, and my grandmas name. Svala means Swallow in Icelandic.I'm also planing on getting a wagtail bird and a child or a set of scales indicating my sisters , whos names are Erla (meaning wagtail in english) and Ólöf (meaning heir in english, but her birthday is in september) and a bull or bullshorns becouse that's my insignia (and Erla's and mum's and dad's)

freckles 8 years ago

svala, don't you think it was slightly disrespectful for you to cover your dead husbands initials? You children would understand, or was it more your current husbands influence?

Kalree 8 years ago

I love 16 but im getting a swallow tattoo for my grandmother in about a week.

Jynxx 8 years ago

Im 19 Ive Just got a swallow they look unreal so ive decided to get two on my cheast One Evil and One angel They look great. But what looks good around them? the the next thing i want. Any ideas? Troy

Avita? 8 years ago

I've been wanting something to symbolize being far from home and loyalty to friends for about 4 years now. I figured the swallow tattoo I got yesterday was ideal. I cant wait to get another. But a friend of mine died at a very young age. I'm quite young, and i was wondering if anyone ever regretted getting a tattoo a desceased person's name, now that they're older. If they felt sad everytime they looked at it, or were tired of people asking what it was because it made them sad.

Marlis 8 years ago

I've just recently made up my mind about getting a swallow with a ribbon saying daddy on it tattooed on my right lower hip. My father passed away 4 years ago and I've been going over idea to get on for quite a few years. And yes I 've spent time in the Navy and I do know of its meaning. I just hate it when people get something just cuz its cool. To me it should mean something very dear to heart.T

girl 8 years ago

I want a sparrow, a little one on my neck behind my right ear.

The reason i want it, nothing symbolic or in honour of a loved one. Just because.

What do you care anyway? Listen to you all, paying out other people for the tatoos they admire and want, so you have an opinion, however these people can and will do what they want, your opinion (sadly) wasted!!





Jennayy Meyer 8 years ago

So My Husband and I Have Talked about adding a new tattoo to our body. we have given it so much thought that Man !! I cant think about it any more lol.. Looking at pictures online and reading or thinking about something we both can share together as a coulpe... We found some wonderful Pictures of swallows. and read How no matter what they had always returned home and had one life partner.. when I think Of this. I see beauty and yet a struggle. and that's something My Hubby and I know well.. He has Been to Iraq and Is due to Leave again In the next 10 months.. Getting this Tattoo wont make Him Closer to me when he is away, but Instead It will be a reminder Of our Love No matter How far he will ever travel He is Home.

As for the CHILDREN wanting tattoos!!! where are your Parents??? You all are a prime example of children That fall shot, Because a lack of parenting!! What Parent wouldn't be In their childs life... You should be thinking about school, dances and college Not A TATTOO... Grow up!!!

Casey Baby 8 years ago

I am going 2 get 2 sparrows across my chest in honour of my grandfathers who were in the navy and killed at sea together. Its also going to represent my past struggles with drugs and alcohol and no matter what happens in the future, i will always return. Im only 22 but gawd ive been thru most of it. PS - joining the navy next year. woo.

LaurieBoston 8 years ago

JennayyMeyer- telling people they shouldn't get tattoos because they are children and then instructing them to grow up makes absoluely no sense. which one is it? grow up or be a child? also, if someone who is 16 or 17 gets a tattoo, that has nothing to do with what kind of parents they have. that has to do with the fact that the person has a mind of their own and a body of their own. I understand where you are coming from, but you should probably re-think your thoughts and not be so judgmental.

tango 8 years ago

i'm thinking about getting two swallow tattoos sadly in the overdone spot boh sides of my chest only it will go with my whole chest piece in gen.

they're very buttiful and I enjoy when they're in brighter colors as well.

the age you get a tattoo shouldn't really factor that much to if your old enough i'm only 18 now but i got my first two when i was 17

tango 8 years ago

i'm thinking about getting two swallow tattoos sadly in the overdone spot boh sides of my chest only it will go with my whole chest piece in gen.

they're very beautiful and I enjoy when they're in brighter colors as well.

the age you get a tattoo shouldn't really factor that much to if your old enough i'm only 18 now but i got my first two when i was 17

bebeque 8 years ago

this is the funnyest thing ive evr seen!!! girl boy, man woman, child adult, lets all get them, they are tatoos and every age group has them so really...what's the point in all this anger!! i have actually giggled at some of these comments..blaming parents and being so critical because a 16 year ols wants to be individual. the adults speaking here seem upset and angry because we now live in a society that allows choice and diversity and just because they couldn't do it when they were young, they are now rebelling!!

Avita 8 years ago

Amen. haha.

fifi 8 years ago

I love that a 16 year old wants to get 'awsomeness' tattooed on her - such passion! I just hope that she changes her mind in the two years she will have to wait!

Jason 8 years ago

So i don't really understand the arguments. I'm not gonna lie. You SHOULD have a meaningful reason for any tattoo you get. I know too many ppl covering and regreting certain ones because they thought it would be "cute". haha Do what you want but put some real thought into it cause it's there for good. I personally want the swallows for many reasons but as sailors know you have to earn them. And Being in the Coast Guard i'm proud to say i have. But if you really want it then do it. Who cares? You'll have to tell ppl why you got it not someone else. So do what you want everyone! :D

To whoever said there is no meaning to the swallow behind the ear though...there actually is. In England ppl used to get it there, on the neck, or the top of their hand between the thumb and pointer finger. It was code to tell ppl pretty much that "i'm a tough ass fighter and have earned this.". Usually they'd get challenged to another fight. haha But if you want it there i'm sure it would look good. Your choice right?

Later everyone!

crissie 8 years ago

i'm currently 22 and live in the US. i got my first tattoo when i was 16 in canada. i have a total of 6 now, none of which i regret and another one to come tomorrow.

which is why i must say, that i too disagree with jennayy meyer. i'm sorry that you're so judgemental...probably due to very conservative and sheltering parents. but that's cool. this is only allowing YOU a true chance to grow up and see the big picture.

besides. school dances were and continue to be lame, and i have been continurng to fulfill my dreams of being the first one in my family to successfully graduate from college, along with setting a great example for my 11 month old son.

in her defense, i did laugh out loud when i read that first katie girl's comment. i managed to call her a few choice names and then realized that this is a lesson (for me and jennayy) that my mindset and her mindset at 16 were not the same. and everyone is different

courtney 8 years ago

i think everyone on here is too judgemental, and also that blaming teens wanting tattoos on a lack of parenting is absurd. im 17, turning 18 in a week and have two tattoos and im getting my 3rd and 4th ones next month [two sparrows]. My dad is the strictest, most uptight man ive ever met and does not approve of tattoos at all but im pretty sure that when most people are teenagers, the last thing on their minds is what their parents would approve of.

inkedup4ever 8 years ago

Kaila Martin if you seriously got awesomeness tattooed on your body i think everyone that knows you should be entitled to a free slap in the face.

Katti 8 years ago

You know what, everyone gets tattoos for different reasons. Its their life and who are you to judge? Im 22 and currently have 5 tatts, they next 2 will be swallows on my chest. It has special meaning to me and that's all that matters. For the ppl that think it is strictly a sailor tatt, you need to open your mind. I plan on getting my swallows because swallows are known for finding one mate and sticking with them forever, and I can only hope I will find that love. Tattoos are about expressing yourself, not about earning them and having no other reason for the tatt than that. I least I have passion behind mine.

I do agree however you young girls should think on the tatt before you get it, I hate seeing people that regret their works of art. :)

eliza 8 years ago

i agree. swallows keep the same mate through their entire lives. im the only one out of my group of friends that doesn't have divored parents. no one in my family is divorced. ive grown up around true love. im getting swallows on my hips in a few days. i also don't think you should just jump on the band wagon and get a tattoo unless it truly means something to you. just my opinion though. peace & love.

Mishy 8 years ago

It's funny that some people are being so judgmental considering that most people look down on people with tattoos in general.. I have wanted my tattoo since I was 12.. It was painfully important to me.. most of my family and friends did not want me to get one.. But I knew what I wanted.. I do understand though when there's 15 year olds wanting to get nautical stars because they're the "in" thing. I got a hebrew letter that stands for life "chai" since i have a chronic illness life has been the most important thing to me.. and I knew I would never get sick of it.. I don't think it's something that should be rushed ..take your time.. If you keep changing your mind then I don't think your ready to do the real thing.

Although I do agree.. getting "awesomness" as a tattoo for the rest of your life and beyond.. it NOT a good idea! I say groovy all the time doesn't mean I'm getting it tattooed on my chest anytime soon.

Amy 8 years ago

damn I didn't know it was so popular.... I am getting a Swift ( or for those of you that don't know what a swift is it is a sea swallow.) It is my last name and my grandfather who was in the navy died in a car crash when my dad was 13 so it is to honor my name which I don't get to keep and everyone that has died. I am 23 and I have thought about this since I was 15 but, I did not get it until I knew 100% exactly what I wanted. Please think about things before you do them. My friend is going through the awful task of removing and covering tats she got when she was 16 she says it is way more painful than when she got them. Please do not get a tat unless it has meaning for you. If it does than good for you

Anyways wish me luck the big day is tomorrow

lisa 8 years ago

um... well the actual text on this site was pretty helpful... but the pictures all looked like swallows. i'm still not sure if i can tell the difference. swallows or sparrows... who cares. its what it means to you.

Leslie 8 years ago

So really I am 25 and have two tattoos. My most recent is a swallow on my shoulder and I love it. I got married two years ago and instead of doing something stupid like getting his name on my ass I got a swallow. I got my butterfly when I was 18 it didn't mean anything at the time I thought it was cool. Looking back on it however it represents that time period of my life. I wouldn't get rid of it if I could. and no I was not in the navy although I do know what it means and I don't think you have to be in the Navy to get one.

Tracie 8 years ago

I got a swallow on my upper back when I turned 18 (I'm 21 now) and I didn't really look into the meaning beforehand because as cartman would say It's my body I do what I want.

Not that I don't appreciate meaning.... I've always liked birds and flight, I've always lived on the coast, and when I turned 18 I felt totally free. I chose a swallow because of my personality. All you muppets are like overanalyzing your-all decisions about getting tats. Seriously just chill out, whatever, personally I wouldn't allow any of my younger brothers to get a tattoo that says like Awesomeness or whatever, but they do have some crazy ideas like one of my brothers thinks his knee looks like an elephant for some reason so he wants to get it inked to look more like an elephant.

The moral of that anecdote is, people are nuts and you should know that by now.

eliza 8 years ago

lol, kudos to that!

joy  8 years ago

im turning 18 in about a week and my parents are going to give me a swallow tatto as my gift im really excited about it ... the reason whyi chose the swallow is because they were suppoused to lead sailors home at this point of my life im a bit lost so i hope everytime i see the swallow it will remind me to find the rigt way home ... i don't really know where im going to put it ... im between the ribs or above my breasts ...

October 8 years ago

for my birthday in about 2 weeks my paraents are getting my a tattoo, i've been searching for ideas and have finally decided on getting a Sparrow tattoo not a swallow. im getting them just below my coller bones and getting them done in black and grey.

melina 8 years ago

people, you all need to calm down. i agree that the 16 year olds saying they want a swallow or sparrow tattoo because it looks cool is very immature, and the girl that wants "awesomeness" should rethink that, but theres no need to get angry in a comment. i like the idea of a sparrow tattoo because i love birds and everything they represent, however, when i told someone in one of my classes how i wanted a sparrow, she immediately lifted the back of her shirt up to show her two sparrows on either side of her lower back, and now being on here i realize how many young girls get sparrow tattoos, and how i think im going to change my mind.... this is why i didn't jump on getting a tattoo the second i turned 18, its been a long time now since i first starting looking at tattoos, and i still am unsure what i want or where i want it =/

Amanda (17, MO, USA) 8 years ago

I haven't read all of the comments on here, but I honestly don't think I could ever regret getting a tattoo that I decide on, even if it's something that isn't a big part of my life 5, 10 or even 2 years after I get it.

If it was something that was important enough to me then to get it permanently put on my body then it was a part of my life I probably want to remember. I know people choose to get some immature tattoos and I don't plan on getting any tattoos that don't mean something to me, but just because you think it's a stupid idea doesn't mean it is to the person getting it.

I'm 17 years old and will be getting my first tattoo for my 18th birthday. I haven't decided what i'm getting yet because there are 2 tattoos I want to get right now. A claddagh on the top of my foot. I'm proud of my irish heritage and I have wonderful people in my life who love me (friends and family. Please don't think I mean i'm getting a tattoo because of a boyfriend I might not have in a few years.) and claddaghs are a symbol of love and friendship. It will also make me feel more connected to my mother as she has a similar tattoo. I also want a swallow tattoo, they represent so many things from what i've heard and i'm honestly not getting one because of the symbology. I'm getting one because I think they're beautiful birds and because I like them. My swallow is going to have a ribbon (a cancer ribbon, but not like the typical ones you see, I want it to look like an actual ribbon, but i'd like it to still be noticeable as a cancer ribbon) in it's mouth in honor of my Grandfather and Aunt. My Grandpa passed away last spring and it was one of the hardest things i've ever had to go through, and my Aunt is getting close to losing her battle with cancer.

I know there will be many things I have to go through in life that are going to be hard for me and I honestly want to get a tattoo to symbolise that i've made it through them. I plan on getting many tattoos in my life, but I want them all to be modestly placed. I don't care what people think of me and the tattoos i'm going to have, but I don't want them to interfere with getting a job or anything else that will be important to me that they might interfere with.Sorry for the extremely long post, but I wanted to show that not all 17 year olds would be making a mistake by getting a tattoo, and that I think just because I may not think something is a good/meaningful tattoo idea, it might be to the person getting it.

dsasser profile image

dsasser 8 years ago from US

beautiful tattoo pictures, I add also

lindsey nichole 8 years ago

i am a firm believer in freedom of expression. although i think some ideas are less thought out than others, it is your right to express yourself however you feel so inclined!!

i am 19, i just got my first tattoo a few months back. i thought about and researched it for 2 years. i am absolutely in love with it! it is a cross, heart, and anchor to represent faith, hope, and love; all things i highly value! as much as i was against getting it on my hip, that's where it is. i'm going to be a teacher in a few years and have to be very conservative in the placement of my tattoos...

my next tattoo will be a flank piece; 2 swallows. sadly i know it is cliché for my generation, but the meaning behind it is huge for me. i am the first person in my family to go to college, let alone move out of state. home and family is my life. i want something to remind me of where i came from and keep my grounded. i also love the symbolism of the swallows having 1 mate their whole lives. i never want to be divorced, so it will also remind me not to rush into marriage, to think about my decision that will impact the rest of my life!

as far as having to earn the swallows, i might not be in the navy or coast guard, but everyone fights their own battles. if you make it out alive, then hell, you've earned it in my opinion!

kelce 8 years ago

my husband has a swallow tattoo and I plan on getting one included in my sleeve tat. His is because his family name means swallow in their language (ukrainian) but the history of the tat makes it a nice piece to add to great art. Since I took on his name when we married mine will be homage to his name.

Katy 8 years ago

I'm also sixteen and i think there is too much judgements on people my age, concerning naivety. I have wanting a sparrow tattoo for quite a long period now to represent my grandads death - he was a sailor - above my heart, as he was extremely close to me. I think it doesn't matter what age you are, because its you that's going to have the tattoo for ever, not other people. Peoples stereotypical attitudes to the young, never fail to surprise me. By focusing on the immaturity of the girl who wanted "awesomness" don't you think your depersonalising, her tattoo straight of? Each tattoo holds a story and their story has been written by you. Don't criticize peoples life through their tattoos.

sophie 8 years ago

surely a tattoo is about expression, and symbolises a presons ideas, life and thoughts at the time they get it. i have three tattoos, and one of which includes one initial belonging an ex boyfriend and an s for sophie entwined. althought the boyfriend is now an ex, the tattoo represents 7 years of my life, and was designed by me. personal to me, and no matter hwo hard i would try that 7 years wouldn't go away, and will always be a part of me. as will my tattoo which im very proud of. do what you like with tattoos, but make sure you do it because its what you like and want, other folk don't have to live with it forever. you do.

monica 8 years ago

I agree you shouldn't have to be in the navy or a sailor just to get the tat. the meaning behind them have took on its own...

for those who stray away from home .. be it the young trying to find where they fit.. or military.. or even someone in love or looking... it all points to going back home and loyalty...

meaning starts somewhere.. as i learn in college, we assign meaning based on what we take in and what we take from others. .. read some communication theory it states how some traditions and myths were started.

Lotte 8 years ago

Me and my boyfriend are both british traditional skinheads [by that i mean anti-racist] and swallow tattoos have a lot of background in the skinhead community here. so in 3 months time we're getting matching sailor jerry style swallows on our wrists. we wanted something to represent our love but also something that we could keep without regret if [hopefully not] we broke up. also, i'm recovering from being hit by a car. i nearly lost my life and i've been left with some pretty serious injuries. so the tattoo has soo much meaning for us both; the 'freedom' i'll regain when i'm well, the 'hardship survived' and the mate for life to show our love.

that and it's a beautiful image!

anna 8 years ago

HEY! the good thing about tattoos is that you can cover them up. i have a swallow tattoo on my neck with a star above it, and i love it. However, would never get a tattoo on my chest or my upper arms or anywhere around that area. I try to get tattoos where I can cover them up, I think that when people get older they will find that having tattoos in plain site, to where you can't always cover them up will make it harder for you to get a job. Although, tattoos are becoming more and more popular, but unfortunately for the people who are 16 and 17 and getting tattoos in plain site, it will still not be a norm in the corporate world yet. You're going to have to wait a century until it's really accepted. I work at a law firm and have a crown tattoo on my forearm, I love it and don't regret getting it at all. The downside to having this tattoo though is that i have to wear shirts that have 3/4 sleeves and it makes it a little harder to find clothes for work. But I do agree with "if they want it, let them get it" I do think that people should wait until they are older to get tattoos though. I got my first one at 16, I couldn't wait, of course, i got a tribal butterfly. I know, I know. But whatever, I like it and nobody really see's it unless i'm naked or in a swimsuit. I have 6 tattoos now, and don't regret a single one. They all mean something to me, not anyone else and i don't feel like i have to explain the meaning when people ask or judge me becuase of them. It's not on their body, so why should they care? Both my parent's have tattoos and my sister as well, everyone in my family is pretty successful, you can't see them though. Good luck :]

louise 8 years ago

omg tha woman goin on aba kids gettin tattoos wtf im 17 and ive gt a tattoo and my parents r great so if your nt there to support your kids through what they want your the bad parent that's just arrogent

Lotte 8 years ago

Modern - somebody on here talks sense!

anonomous 8 years ago

i work in a tatt shop & ave tatts!! word of advice start bein original al u young ones its an art form not a fashion parade...

danny 8 years ago

I have a tattoo of two swallows on my back one on each shoulder blade. They represent my son and my daughter. For all the youngens think long and hard because you guys will get older and ur tattoos will get wrinkly and I don't think the "awesomeness" would look that awesome in a couple of years!

olly 8 years ago

i want a ciggarette!

olly 8 years ago

not tattooed. just i want to smoke, i haven't had one in a bit lol

that guy 8 years ago

Modern: Please rephrase to 'you coast guard dipshit'.

Just cuz he's being one doesn't mean all the services are. Personally, I think if a tattoo means something to you, then get it. After all, it's your body, and your story to tell. If someone else attaches a different meaning to it, then fuck it. It's not their tattoo, is it? I'm going to be getting a swallow tattoo. Have I been out on the ocean to 'earn it' like mr. coast guard? no. But I've spent my time in Iraq, and I feel that's a hell of a journey.

i guess for the most part i agree with modern, minus the ''all military'' thing. :)

banana 8 years ago

i love it. years ago the larger percentage people getting tatt's were lower income classes. tatt's were cheap and a talented artist was pretty hard to find. even the good artists were scraping by in certain areas of america. now that all the movie stars are endorsing them (i use endorse loosely) and they have become as popular as the ipod, every one gets them! people with plenty $ to spend seek out better artists, the competition has made a cleaner environment, a more professional attitude, and artists can be more selective of their clientelle. just reading these comments makes me feel like the bank account is getting bigger! god bless all the teen girls who want to get big, colorful, expensive designs all over them! keep'em coming! hey, put your boyfriend's name right next to "awesomeness"! that girl will be right back in the shop two months later after she get's dumped by "what's his name" and when her new tag-line changes to "badassness" or whatever. and when that day comes, she can pump out another couple hundred dollars on covering that crap over. ooh--oohh!- don't forget the 15 grand she'll drop off on my husband, he removes tattoo's from people who have changed their minds.

hey, little advice for you, sugar. use the ink that breaks up easily under the laser, that way you can remove it easily. and after you get trashed and get yourself another one for us to remove, i'll be paying off the yacht and maybe even retiring! oh how i look forward to the day i can go deep sea fishing anytime i want on your poor 9-5 dollars!

tootles! see you in a couple years, sweetie!

Kimberly 8 years ago

Personally, I agree and disagree with some of the people on here. I do think you should really think about what you want, and that doesn't mean go to the place and take five minutes to pick out what you want. If that Kaila girl wants "awesomeness" written on her, so be it. But I think she needs to think about if she's going to be saying that "word" for the rest of her life. But also, for the Jennayy Meyer comment, yes, some teenagers just get tats to "be cool" but some get them because they have meaning. I was 18 when I got my first tat. And 19 when I got my second (a swallow, which I will be getting colored in soon!!). Yes, a lot of people are getting swallows because "they're cute" or "everyone else is getting them", but I got mine for the same reason Katti is getting hers, except I have found my love. The swallows might mean something about sailors and stuff, but it also meaning the one true mate thing (which I didn't just get that info from here, I researched it). I think the sailors on here that are calling people names because they have swallow tats and aren't sailors themselves are being disrespectful and ignorant. So what is someone else gets a swallow, it's their body, if that's what they want, that's what they'll get. It is a free country, right? That's what you're fighting for, right? Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against our troops, I support them 100%, I just don't like people who think they're better than others. That's all!

Kimberly 8 years ago

And "banana", not everyone gets their tats removed, and I sure as hell won't be paying shit toward your yacht or retirement. Maybe these ones who go in and don't know what they're going, but a lot of people do know and won't get them removed. I mean, do you not have any tats? If not then why are you looking? Are you wanting some, so you're husband can take them off, since apparently that's what everyone gets done?

Brian 8 years ago

so i don't know if someone said this already or not because i just got tried of reading the same thing over and over again. but i thought this was something where we could talk about getting tattoos? not some hardcore bash fest because of other peoples ideas. now i will agree that girl that wants to get awesomeness needs to think about that but its their bodies so let them do and think for themselves. I know i will never meet any of you on here so i could give a shit what you tell me to do or not to do i can promise you that. but that's all.

poppy 8 years ago

u all belong on jerry springer!!!!

Alix 8 years ago

I'm getting a swallow tattoo soon. I'm really excited because I'd never considered a swallow and then I read about the symbolism.

My Fiancé is leaving for boot camp for the Marines in less than two weeks and I'm almost positive he will be deployed soon after being stationed.

The symbolism of loyalty and strength in love is why I initially wanted to get one and then I read that in England people used to get them to show that they were strong fighters.

Both fit my life so I'm getting one on the back of my neck... But I don't know if i want it to be holding something in its beak, I was thinking a dark red rose and something else, a sunflower perhaps. I can't decide on what it will be holding but that is my general idea and I am SO excited. =]

Jeanny 8 years ago

Im 17, and i got my first tattoo a few months ago.... i picked a hidden place, so that my parents wouldn't find out about my tattoo. i now have one swallow on my inner right hip. At the time i got the tattoo, i was just looking for something to do to rebel against my extremely strict parents. conveniently, close a family friend owns a tattoo shop, so i decided that's what i was going to do... GET A TATTOO! i was so excited, but i had no idea what i was going to get. at first i had my eye on a tribal dragonfly, but i felt that was stupid9 thank god i didn't get it). it took me about two hours to realize i had run out of ideas, so i asked my tattoo artist for suggestions. he told me he liked swallows, and that's how i wound up with a swallow on my hip.

ive got to admit tho, i did regret it for sometime because i didn't feel it meant anything other than being a dumb rebellious teenager. but i was wrong, ive been researching the swallows symbolism and i have offcially dedicated the tattoo to my grandmother who died trgically. No, she wasn't a sailor, but she was a cuban refugee... what we like to call here in miami "a rafter," that has to count for SOMETHING. lol. i now think the tattoo is awesome, because i dedicated it to someone important.

ive made a recent addition to the swallow, i added a ribbon to its mouth with my grandmothers birth and death dates.


Rachel 8 years ago

I love the idea of tattoos because it allows self-expression in a way that most else doesn't. I have a tattoo already, and I'm getting two more tomorrow (two swallows, on my feet, with banners in their mouths, one that says "Live with" and the other will say "Passion") Because that is something I truly believe in. I chose swallows because of their history, their meaning, AND their aesthetic appeal. I don't really care that a lot of people get them because that's not the reason I'm getting it. I think the saying "Dare to be different" should be changed to "Dare to be yourself" Originally is pretty much kaput these days, as most everything you could do has been done or thought before. Let's not worry about being original but instead being true. And even I, believeing in being yourself, think that someone who is getting something not because they feel it defines them, but because it's "cool", has every right to do so, because they'll deal with it if they end up regretting it. No one else has to worry about whether they end up loving it forever or if they regret it even later that day. If someone has a tendency to make rash decisions, then let them get whatever they want tattooed on themselves. It's not your body, so why are you worrying yourself about what someone else is getting. Some people might say to that, "People who do that give tattoos a bad rep because they end up changing their mind" But just because it's not your first idea doesn't mean that the person whose idea it was will ever change their mind. That, and if you're so concerned about "being original", then what does it matter if people are closed-minded about tattoos? If you're being original, someone else's opinion shouldn't matter. But then again I guess I should look at what I'm saying and realize that if I'm sick of seeing people judge other's decisions and opinions, I shouldn't judge anyones opinions about what other people should or shouldn't get. Personally, I believe in looking at every situation with different angles. We all have our own way to spin it, and Thank God for living in a country where we're ALLOWED to do that. I understand where every person on here is coming from, but I just wish everyone could take a step back and look at the bigger picture. These days, the lines are becoming blurred and boundaries are being crossed. Try to become as open as possible, because things certainly aren't getting more refined any time soon. Also, I'd like to say that Lindsey Nichole, I agree 100% with what you said here... "as far as having to earn the swallows, i might not be in the navy or coast guard, but everyone fights their own battles. if you make it out alive, then hell, you've earned it in my opinion!" Every person on here believes that they have their own story to tell right? Well don't forget that every OTHER person has a unique story to tell, whether it's a story of pain, love, strength, family, or even of being a follower. Tattoos are just people's way of telling their story.

Torrie 8 years ago

I have a swallow tattoo on my wrist...

it didn't mean anything when i first got it at all, but NOW it represents the time of my life when i got it done, In college and struggling with a series of personal issues. It reminds me that I got through those times, I survived.

It's the only tattoo i have and i have no desire to get another one, I have an 'elegant' body shape so being heavily tattooed would not suit me. My husbad loves my tattoo, and I'm not about to get it removed. I don't care about the traditional symbolism, i care about the personal symbolism.

So get off your high horses, all you condemning tattooed youngsters and meaningless tattoos: i got mine at sixteen, eight years ago. Don't regret it, never will. And tattoos are rarely meaningless, even it just states a person's independence.

love... Torrie.xx

p.s. Kaila, I'm not going to be horrible about it but i really would think twice about getting 'awesomeness' tattooed. I say 'cunt' and 'fuck' alot: I'd rather not have them emblazoned above my crotch for life.

doodi 8 years ago

wow, XD some of the ppl on here are going alittle overboard and really getting affended, like if they are the tattoo gods or whatever... lol~ I'm getting a tattoo of a mouse jacking off right under my belly-button tomarrow. it has no meaning. & I don't give a shit. and to that grl who tattoo's "awesomness" on herself, do what you want, if you hate it later, write over it with something else. there, case solved. damn...

Hollie 8 years ago

I am 25 and I've always wanted a tattoo, but never really made any major decisions to get any. I have yet to get a tattoo, but I have always wanted either a phoenix or a sparrow and I'm leaning more towards a sparrow, for the simple fact...the bird is small like me and the fact a sparrow represents life after a long journey, even though I'm young, I've had my shares of ups and downs and being a Christian...I want it to say, 'keep your eyes on the sparrow' in really pretty writing... When I look at it, I will have a constant reminder that even though life can be hard, I have to keep my head up no matter what.

TheLittleKid 8 years ago

I Am 17, And This Needs To Be Said In Teenagers' Defense. Just Because We Are Teenagers Wanting A Tattoo, Does Not Mean We Are Delinquents, Nor Deadbeats. Just Because We Want A Tattoo, Does Not Mean We Disregard Our Studies, Or Our Jobs. I Maintain A 4.0 GPA In School, And Somehow I Still Find The Time To Be Thinking About Getting A Tattoo.

Personally, I Know That Getting A Tattoo At A Young Age Is A Bit Risky. However, Waiting Until I Am 30 Does Not Mean That Any Tattoo I Get At That Age Will Be More Meaningful Than Than One I Get Now.

Not All Teenagers Get Meaningless Tattoos Simply To Say We Have One. Think Next Time You Decide To Deem Yourself Worthy Of Condescension Just Because You're Older.

villu666(at) 8 years ago

hia all. I've recently seen a nice tribal-swallows tattoo located on some girl's pelvis. I t was really pretty. Maybe someone has a foto of it or knows where can I find it, cause the servers where I saw the photo is down...

paul b 8 years ago

im in the navy and i actually talked to a 1st clas petty officer about his tattoo he said that it was for a friend that died in iraq and also for his wife to symbolize that he would come home to her every time he went on deployment just a thought i might get one but there are so many people with them i don't feel like there is anything i could do to make it mine know what im sayin sling me some ideas

Ray :] 8 years ago

For the love of God.

To all those young ones "borrowing" friends ids.


Im not sure about the individual laws for each state in America

But in England a tattoo artist can be fined, imprisoned, have their licence removed, and be put on the sex offenders register for tattooing a minor.

Any place not id-ing properly is unprofessional, and either unaware of the consequences or just don't CARE.

I for one would not trust any place willing to tattoo a minor, if they're willing to risk all they live for then they're obviously not in it for the right reasons- they just want your money

And you would also question their hygeine standards too.

Any self respecting studio has guidelines, such as clamping down on ID and such things as never doing hand tattoos on a first timer, for example.

My younger cousin was so desparate for one she went to a place not far from our hometown notorious for tattooing minors. The tattoo was on the back of her neck,and she cant cover this with a top. Its to one side, and the lines of the letters are all different thicknesses. Id have taken her to where i get mine done, but would not want them to jepardise their business and lifestyle because i know they love what they do.

Please wait until you're old enough to make a mature decision on what you're doing, and also where you are going to get it done!

And remember, whilst most of the world arent, most employers are judgemental about hiring people with tattoos. Working at the disney store, ive had to prove myself a hard worker so they allow me to wear the old long sleeved shirt to covoer my arms!

Ben Sparrow 8 years ago

I plan on getting a gemini symbol with a sparrow in the center, or two on either side with outstretched wings.

My last name is Sparrow, so it makes plenty of sense.

sarah 8 years ago

ok... i have read almost all the comments on here, .. first and for most.. its ur body do what u want with it.. people need to stop saying shit about every ones tattoo.. im 22 years old and have tattoos all over my back chest and symbolizes who i am what i like.. i have a hisband and two young children i don't care what others think.. so stop saying this one for navy and army and this type of person and that .. do whatever u want to ur body and leave others alone...

i am not in the army navy .. but i have two sparrows, i was a navy and air force brat .. whole family but me was in the military.. everything has meaning and it doesn't always have to mean the same to u...

do what u want don't listem to bull shit people.. if u like it do it..

biz 8 years ago

I'm getting a SPARROW tattoo when I turn 18.

Not just because it's pretty but because it's meaningful.Matthew 10:29 says, "Are not 2 sparrows sold for 1 cent? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father".

So I want a sparrow to symbolize that no matter how small something is, God will still take care of it.

tyler green 8 years ago

please, everyone, just get over yourselves?this is a forum for discussing what body art we want/ have done,people shouldn't be getting so caught up about criticising everyone elses decisions.this is called obsession, and its unhealthy.i'm trying to research getting some ink done and all i have to go on is some bitchy school girl comments.please show some courtesy, thankyou.

lynn 8 years ago

if you get a swalllow tattoo, do u have to get two? or is it the same if u just get one.

Ronnie 8 years ago

im getting a sparrow tattoo on my lower back for my 18th bday.

it'll just be a colorful sparrow with a banner that has "XVIII" (18) on it.since a sparrow is supposed to represent freedom or new beginnings...and i been through some shit living in my house... its gonna be pretty special.

Mizfitiyam 8 years ago

My boyfriend is a tattoo artist and on the 4th of july he tattooed a swallow and sparrow on the front of my right shoulder. The meanings were so beautiful and hit home to me, that it meant more to me than just a beautiful piece of artwork. I really hope that anyone who gets a sparrow or swallow tattooed on them really reads up on their meaning and find that its meaning hits close to home like it did for me. I've never felt home anywhere and since one of these birds symbolizes returning home, I hope one day I will find my home and always stay. My family and friends are very special to me, but I don't feel home where they are. I know that love can and will endure all if you don't give up or give in, I am a fighter born and bread from the streets, sitting here in a college classroom, my past so far behind me now it's only a memory and I can sit here with my shoulder sore and be so proud and happy for my new tattoo and its meaning to my life. I am forever grateful for the tatoo I received and to my boyfriend for his steady hand, and knowing that forever this meaning, this piece of art will always be a part of me.


ashley 8 years ago

I'm getting ones similar to the one with the banner saying the from nature we must stray one. except smaller, possibly different color. and the banner will be smaller and say "all you need is love" being as I love the beatles.

andrew  8 years ago

as far as i know and iv bin in the mob for 3 years now (NAVY)

is that u can only get a swalow tatoo if u have 5000 nm on a warship and 2 at 10'000 so

just saing to budy up there maby not such a good idea to get 2 swalows and then joine up.

Navy Tats 8 years ago

I'm 23 and have been in the NAVY for 3 years now and am well over my 10,000 nmi mark so I'm thinking of getting two traditional swallows on my chest. I'm doing because I have I love the symbolism, I find them aesthetically pleasing and I earned them. I'm not trying to dictate what people should and shouldn't be doing with their own body's its just that you have to understand the frustrating to see other people infringe on a tradition that don't belong to. I mean sure you can have it anything on your body mean anything you want it to but there really is no getting around being a bandwagoning poser if your a civilian who gets two big swallows on his chest cuz he saw it a magazine somewhere. Do what you with your body but most of the people I know in the service take it as disrespect to see a civilian sporting something they didn't even understand.

As to the airforce girl who was saying something about the navy not being in kuwait, afgan, or iraq..... (deep breath) The navy has something like 20+ thousand boots on the ground. Half my fends have already come back and I have my orders cut to Iraq for the next 15 months. Your ignorance is forgivable though, I mean the the airforce only spends 3 months at a time in the sandbox and wont spend longer than 10 min taxiing in "hostile airspace". So I doubt you've ever met somebody whose had to serve there time.

freedom 8 years ago

Im getting a small sparrow put on my body though im not sure where yet, it is to represent my grandad who used to call me his "little sparrow" and who is unfortunately unwell. Tattoos are a personal thing and can represent hundreds of issues so no-one should judge someone else for what they want. Perhaps that girl will regret "awesomeness" or maybe she'll always look back at it an remember her youth, her friends and some of the best years of her life, if it reminds her of all that then its nothing to regret.

8 years ago

dude if people wanna get tattoos , let them get em if you don't want them or don't want your kids to get them im sure you'll spend the rest of your life preventing that from happeningEACH TO THEIR OWN

nick 8 years ago

i've been across the ocean and back over 10,000 na miles. that's why i am soon to get my swallows...

mike 8 years ago

im getting a divebombing swallow on my chest (theres a compass on the other blocking the idea for two) but im getting it as a symbol of the friends ive made while being stationed in england. interesting article about the tattoo, i knew it was popular but never knew what it meant until now. good thing i was getting it for teh meaning it really is, heh.

mike G 8 years ago

oh and im not that other guy 2 comments above this. totally different peeople. sorry mike in the navy. im mike in the airforce.

mike g 8 years ago

nevermind. i must be hallucinating. ur name is nick not mike. lol wtf my bad.

john  8 years ago

dang what that kid austin said is pretty funny

frogburst 8 years ago

i have to agree with the people who don't think you self-righteous douche bags who are bitching about what OTHER people want to get inked on their bodies. Did you miss the concept that it's THEIR body, not your's? Listen if the girl wants to get "awesomeness" permanently placed on their body for the rest of her life, yeah, it might sound ill-advised but hey! she's the one who may or MAY NOT regret it. So what the fuck do you care? And as for tramp stamps, not all girls who have a tattoo on their lower backs have "tramp stamps". A tramp stamp is when a girl goes to a tattoo shop, sees a fucking heart, flower, star or other retarded thing that has absolutely no meaning and gets it put on herself FOREVER. Myself, I have an anchor with a ship wheel and banner for my godfather who passed away, also has the date. He was in the navy and a fisherman, therefore, i fucking HATE when people think that every lower back tattoo is a tramp stamp. please, do us all a favor and get off your high horse and stop feeling like you are the all mighty tattoo God.

frogburst 8 years ago

oh yeah and as for young people who get tattoos weren't raised well?? are you kidding?? my mom and dad are 2 of the best people you will ever meet. I was raisded to be a very respectful, courteous, intelligent and independent person and that's because of my parents. im 20 years old, in college, and guess what! I have a tattoo and im getting more. IMAGINE THAT!!!! my tattoo represents someone who was my best friend, godfather, more like a second father to me. so does that mean im a bad person because I got a tattoo when i was 18? I really don't think so. you people need to get a life, for real.

briana 8 years ago

gosh some ppl on here need to get over themselves im not in the military but i am a coast guard wife and i have a green nautical star or my starboard (right) foot and im seriously thinking about to getting a big piece down my left side of two swallows and maby an anchor or crossed anchors the symbol for BM my hubbys rate and maby a few more nautical stars do you newby military guys gotta problem with that???

Bry 8 years ago

Actually briana, I do. You're not in the military, and getting military themed tattoos without serving is insulting. Leave it to the men and women who have earned them.

kris 8 years ago

for a while i wanted angel wings on the back of my neck to remember one of my good friends who passed away, i am 16 by the way, and now seeing the swallow idea, i seem to like it a lot better, however im trying to research all the meanings of the swallow, and there seems to be infinite, and i know the placement makes a difference on the meaning. If i were to get a swallow on my lower hip, would it mean anything else besides loyalty, love and friendship?

Kyuss 8 years ago

Just HAD to comment...soo many ppl upset over stupid things, really. Yes "awesomeness" should wait her 2 years and hopefully have a more meaningfull tatt...just my opinion...Some would argue that you do not have to "earn" your sparrows by being in the NAVY...they may have earned them in jail...swallows often represent freedom. I may get one in the future, next to my heart because I'm often away from my boy, and travel 1000km weekely. I see him EVERY weekend. I miss him and it's hard. Have I "earned" the right to have a swallow? A barn swallow often returns to it's nest up to 20 times an hour to care for it's young- I've done a little reseach and have my own meaning...

Ppl should at least have an idea and respect how certain tatt's have signifigance in the tatto culture....Pple should respect others opinions. Hell, ppl in the NAVY likely poke fun at ppl in the Coast guard ( Ahem..hate and discontent ) as regs poke fun at reservists etc...right?? I undersatand your position, however you have to realize that the millitary cannot impose creative control and censorship over tattoo's, art and individuality as they can the way they are portrayed in rated movies. Freedom of choice, speech, life, liberty, happiness...blah blah boils down to common sense and common curtousey.

Should young ppl get tatt's?? Generally, probably not- however some "kids" are more mature than many "adults"...we all know that's true. whom would I appeal my case as to whether or not I have "earned the right" to wear my swallow tatt?

Trisha 8 years ago

I'm not "earning" my swallow tattoo either. My respect goes out to those that do, but I as well, have my own symbolism to what a swallow represents. Just because a swallow could symbolize one thing to one person such as someone serving in the navy, it could mean something entirely different to another, being my case.

And I do not want a swallow tattoo because they are "trendy", to be honest I do not see many people with swallow tattoos. Everyone picks the tattoo they do for a reason whether it is trendy or not, but who are you to judge them for what they choose or how old they are when they get it. They odviously chose it for the reason that it means something to them or not, and you may not agree with that reason but you shouldn't care anyways. It's not your body, and it's not affecting you (or at least you shouldn't let it affect you).

ds 8 years ago

ever since i was a kid i always wanted just one tattoo, a swallow, my name means a swallow so when i was a kid that's the only bird i was ever crazy about so i'm glad i finally got one and if you pick a tattoo just how it looks and have no meaning behind it then your stupid when i get another tattoo i will make sure it has something to do with who i am

Yaz 8 years ago

It really annoys me when people spill that "you should only get a tattoo if it means something to you" garb. It's really ridiculous. ALL tattoos have meanings. Even if the meaning is something simple such as "it looks good" it's still a meaning, and it's still a VALID meaning that people have no right to drag down and look down their noses at.

Noone should lecture others on their body art. People have no right to judge and carry on that way. I have a star on my wrist. My very first tattoo. So now you lot will call me cliche' am I right? Well, I don't give a damn because to me the tattoo I got, does have a meaning. The meaning is simple, it looks nice, it's a universal symbol and I wanted something simple for my first tattoo. The story it tells? It doesn't tell about a person who died/someone I loved...but it shows a part of my life. A time when I got this tattoo. Does it need more meaning? No, it doesn't. No tattoos do. I respect tattoos with meanings, and I myself am soon to get a tattoo with a lot of meaning to me. But, athestics are good enough reasons for tattoos.

Everyone needs to RESPECT each other a hell of a lot more. Stop leaving comments about how people have to "earn" tattoos, or need to have elaborate reasons behind them. Tattoos are art, and are always going to have meanings, even if they are not considered important to you lot. Even if the meaning isn't always known or clear. Who are you to judge someone for expressing themselves through the skin they were born with?

Some of you need to loosen up and learn respect. And if that girl wants awesomeness tattooed on her, who are you to say that's stupid? She has her own mind and her own reasons for getting it, and just because YOU think it's dumb, doesn't mean she does. So if she wants it, she should get it. And if she regrets it, she should laser it. Its her money, her life, her skin and her opinion that counts. Are you all such wound up, trumped up busybodies that you feel the need to slate a person you know nothing about over the internet? Grow the fuck up.

dclant 8 years ago

For starters any tattoo you get on your body means something to you, weather it just means hey i like this or anything else. Just wanna say I have decided to get 2 swallows on the back of each shoulder blade to represent my brother who had a boat wreck and drowned 3 years ago. No he wasn't in the fucking Navy but my brother lived for the water and loved every minute of it, and I really don't give a fuck if I offend anyone in the Navy or not, its my body and you don't mean shit to me. And by the way if the 16 year old wants to put awesomeness on her body its her choice.

Amanda 8 years ago

I want to get a swallow on my neck to represent freedom...I am 17 almost 18 years old... I already have one tattoo, its for my dad who committed suicide this past January, its a set of angel wings with a heart in the center...the heart has a banner where it says "DAD" overlapping the banner into the heart...yeah just because were young doesn't mean we don't kno what were doing when we get our tats...and it has absolutely nothing to do with parenting...I got it to show that my dad will always have my back and that he will never be forgotten

Back to the swallow idea...the reason i am getting it is to show that I have been freed from the inner demons that had a hold on me for the longest time...and that I have made the journey from one of the darkest times of my people may not think that is good enough of a reason but u kno what i don't really give a shit what others think about it cuz no one else has lived my life to kno what i have gone through


Really, it's a tattoo, not an article of clothing. Do something no one else has. You're an individual, think of something. And do your best to give it a bit of meaning.

missy 8 years ago

My 18 year old daughter and myself have had a really rough year, i have gotten three prev tattos all relating to some moment in my life,she has two already, she goes to an ivy league school, is beautiful and so very bright, we are finally crawling back to the light after a horrible year and both got the same swallow tattoo to represent our closeness and hope for the future, i don't regret one of my tattos the only advice i would give is to think what you will be doing work wise and the placement, because as you can see people sterotype!!

Blah 8 years ago

Who care's is it symbolises anything, if you want it get, get it. Simple. Im 17, im getting an anchor tattoo next month cause they look cool. Yeah, i know what anchors mean/symbolise but i couldn't give two shits so stop wasting your crappy opinions on what other people wont. Things catch on so much faster these days, no one really cares about old meanings for things, eg - swallows symbolise sailors, so.....just get it cause they look cool and are trendy then people will gush over it and you will better then every one else, yup.

briana 8 years ago

hey bry well im sry u have a problem but i will continue to get nautical tatts bcz it is part of my life too just bcz im not active doesn't mean shit my whole life revolves around the military, everyone i hang out with are active and they don't have a problem with my tatoo or think that it is disrespectful you need to get a life.

Anne 8 years ago

This is too funny, I've got 2 small matching sparrows on the sides of a nautical star on my chest. I got this tattoo about 4 years ago (after a year of consideration) because I had never seen it done before and loved the way it looked. To me, the sparrows are luck and the nautical star to lead my heart. So seeing a lot of younger kids these days with the same damn thing really stinks, it's becoming a trend and it's so sad. Why the hell would you get something on your body that will never come off because it's a stupid trend. I hope more people seriously consider what they inked on, it's just so sad and pathetic to see this.

Denise 8 years ago

I'm eighteen, and I'm considering a swallow tattoo on the nape of my neck. My father was in the Navy for eight years, and that's where he met my mother. Even though he went around the world, he always came back home to us, and that's one thing the tattoo would symbolize to me. Another is that traveling is a big part of my plan for the future, but I always want to come home safely, and I like that part of the swallow's symbolism as well. Also, to me, swallows symbolize reaching for something, whether it be for home or for your dreams or goals. I'm in college and at the moment I have no idea what I want to do with my life, but I think a swallow might inspire me to gain some direction, or even just to be satisfied in knowing that I'm reaching for something, and for happiness, and that's all that matters.

Another thing; I didn't realize this issue was debated so enthusiastically. . . I think a tattoo should definitely mean something to the person getting it, and shouldn't be done on a whim, but I'm not going to pound people over the head and demand that their tattoos fit into what I believe to be sensible. It's their body . . . they can do whatever they want to with it, as far as I'm concerned.


lola 8 years ago

i think people should stop judging others for getting a tattoo, it doesn't matter what age you are, i mean for fucks sake your getting a tattoo yourself doesn't that make you a bad influence to all the younger people who want one? i am 18 and i have finally decided i want a swallow tattoo however i am not to sure on the placement, i was thinking on my right side high on my ribs??

Yasmin 8 years ago

I'm getting two swallows on my chest in November. I'm eventually going to turn it into a chest piece including a line of a poem I'm particularly fond of that has meaning to me.

This is something that I've thought about for a long time, since I don't get tattoos on a whim and their always something that has meaning.

I get very annoyed when people in the Navy feel that their the only ones entitled to certain tattoos. It's utter crap. Tattoos are a form of self expression, and if I choose to express myself using one of 'your' symbols, deal with it. I refuse to feel bad about that. Instead of bitching about it, perhaps you should feel proud that you live in a country that allows women and men alike to express themselves, that this is what your contributing towards, instead of feeling a sense of entitlment towards something that was chosen for what it represents which, realistically at some point or another everybody will be able to identify with.

And you know what, my first tattoo was an anchor. I was already set on the idea as it was of very important significance to me. However; when I did more research as of course I do with every one of my tattoos, I came across the same small minded attitude, which was probably what sealed the deal, and since the deals already sealed on the swallows and I've already made the appointment, I'm just going to have to settle with feeling a tiny bit smug.

If swallows represent freedom, why do you get so het up about others wanting them? Your basically attempting to limit their freedom by imposing some sort of ridiculous restriction.

Oh, you make me cross.

RBS 8 years ago

i like the idea, going to get a sparrow on my left shoulderblade. was a sailor, racing though... not a pirate or in the navy lol. this 'discussion' is funny. oh well. i like the idea about always coming home and one love too. i travel allot for work and its something nice to know that there is always a loving hoe to come back to. i actually had a dream last night i had the tatoo and i just did some research on the symbolism of it. its kinda creepy how it relates so well. i might convince my girl to get one with me.

sally. 8 years ago

Ok i just want to say something...

isn't this a site for you to view the pictures and then share your thoughts on the pictures! not your thoughts on the other people that have commented.

im 17 and have wanted a swallow tattoo for a couple of years now. just because im still young and not 18 doesn't mean i shouldn't be thinking of a tattoo.

that's like when young people dream of their wedding or something like that is there people going off at them of calling them idiots.

plus its their decision, their body and its not like you know ANY of these people on here anyway, you don't have to look at it every morning so get over it.

GEEEZ! i come on here to look at pictures and this site has turned into a war.

temptresstattoo 7 years ago

Hey Freckles that's a horrible idea. If you get caught doing that not only will you and your friend be in trouble but the artist who does the work could be arrested for marking a minor which is a felony.Minimum of 1 year in prison. Grow up dishonesty affects everyone around you.Remember sparrows are representive of freedom and safe return to loved ones.

temptresstattoo 7 years ago

For coolperson, the native americans had tattoos long before english settlers stepped on Plymouth.They took a sharp rock to cut the design into the persons flesh usually on the face and upper body then rubbed with charcoal to set the picture> They were used as badges to display your clan, status in tibe, victories in battleand so on. To say that their would be no tattoos America if it were not for sailors is ignorant. Maybe if the US government didin't try to exterminate the indians that may have been in your history books in school.

meeeeee 7 years ago

I had no idea so many people wanted sparrows or swallows...

i'm planning on getting two sparrows on my chest with them holding a banner that says in latin "He Provides". it is based on the bible where it says not even the sparrows are forgotten... i've been going through a lot of a hard stuff and i need to rely on God to get me through... even though i feel i've been forgotten...

Sandraa 7 years ago

I am just finishing school and i have been living in Australia for 2 years. My whole family is Australian but I was born and raised in America until I was 15. America is my home, but Australia is too. By birth and by hertitage i feel connected to both. I have been wanting a tattoo for quite a while but i never could figure out something that meant something that i wouldn't get sick of.

My uncle was a sailor but had to leave due to sea sickness and has swallow tattoos on his chest and i have always loved looking at them. I read up on them and found out the meaning that it had to sailors and decided in tribute to both my homes i would get a swallow on each of my sides near my rib cage. One filled with the american flag and the other filled with the australian flag.

What do you guys think??

Please feed back to me either here or email.

samii 7 years ago

Im nearly 20 and im getting my first tattoo on Saturday (Carpe Diem-latin for 'seize the day') and im scared shitless, im getting it on the top part of my back in the middle and im scared of flinching when it hits my shoulder blade. And fucking up the tattoo.

The tattooist said i can use numbing cream. But will it really help ?

Anyones input would really help.


swallowtats 7 years ago

i'm not 18 yet, and i've wanted two swallow tattoos on my hips or just under my collerbone for about a year or more now. I know about all the symbols behind the swallow, i also love anchor tatoos. but if im honest i have to connects with the navy or any family members connected to it either. Alot of people think its wrong for me to get these tattos, and i can see why but i love them so much, what's your opinion? I read on this that someone said we should earn it by going into the navy, i'ts a shame that's not the career for me. Please give me your views on getting these tattoos.

swallowtats 7 years ago

sorry i ment to say i have NO connections with the ideas behind the swallow bird, not 'to connects' lol.

Sarah 7 years ago

I've got a pair of 1950 on each foot. they are the meaning for enduring love. and that sailors would always find their way home. home is where the heart is and family is forever. you'll always love them for eternity. that's my reasons for getting them done. had them for 2 years now. i have an ancor too aswell as a 1950 pinup girl. traditional is the way to go..!

Krissy 7 years ago

Just wanted to put a comment in on the "being to young to tattoo argument".

Who gives a fuck, what is it that makes other people care about what someone else will get on their body..get over yourselfs. I am 19 and have 15 already..i started when I was 15. I don't belive that any tattoo can be a bad choice, i know I don't regret none of mine. They all represent how I was feeling or what I was thinking or maybe just as simple as what I liked in that period of my life...and no matter what it symbolizes me and my life. I have one that me and a friend chose to get when we were younger and we're still friends but if we aren't in a couple of years that's okay because she was there..she exsisted in big part of my life and that's something that I can never erase or pretend didn't happen so why cover it up.

I think some people just care way too much about what ther people think..screw only live what you want...i have tattoos that don't really symbolize much other than I liked them but that's okay. Sparrows are such a beautiful andf meaningful thing that's why so many people get them...shit when your 60 you'll probably just look at them and giggle and say man i was wild...i know I'll always cherish mine..just the fact that I can be a unique individual is tatt it up girls...fuck what them haterz say!lol

[e] 7 years ago

Okay. I really don't understand people who would get a tattoo for no meaning at all. I'm 16 and getting my first swallow tattoo tomorrow--it's ridiculously important to me. I've moved and travelled all over the world, and getting a swallow is like the tattoo sailors got after 5,000 miles at sea. Despite all my travelling, my wish is always to travel more and never forget to keep chasing the horizon.

I'm also getting it because I have a long-term obsession with freedom, and, to me, swallows symbolise freedom just like the sea horizon does.

Krystina 7 years ago

I wanted to get a swallow to symbolise that no matter how far i travel i will always find hope and my way home. i wanted something to remind me of my family when i move away for uni and in later life who knows. is this a bad idea and does anyone know of anything else that could symbolise? i don't want to offend anyone or look trashy as i know it will stay with me into my old lady days :)

Sami 7 years ago

they are beautiful tattoos with lots of meaning people are silly to get them for incorrect reasons, i got my first tattoo at 15 and have not stoped yet i have two swallows myself and they may be my fav?


bman 7 years ago

im 16 and i just got a tattoo around my bellybutton... i hope that's not gay but besides the piont... wheres a place i can put a swallow tattoo?

Ariel5151 7 years ago

Im 18 and my husband is in the army, weve been together over 2 years and with him leaving I wanted to remember that no matter what he will always come back to me much like the swallow. For two years I have known that I wanted a bluebird until I saw and read the meaning of the swallows, this week I am getting the swallow bird flying with a cross necklace hanging from its beek. Everyday I look at it I will remember that God will bring my husband Curtis home to me.

Mizfitiyam 7 years ago

Wow, people are still tripping on this? I got mine, don't care what anyone thinks of it... it doesn't just stand for military, and if they get offended, they can kiss mine! if you read up on them you would know this! Just because back in the day some dude got a tattoo with one and started a trend doesn't mean other people cant do the same thing! My uncle was in the Navy, he thought it was a trip knowing I got the same bird on me. Im 29 years old and love every one of my tattooos and plan on getting more and cant wait for my son to get older so I can tattoo something on him. He loves tats and knows I am learning right now and wants me to tattoo my bird on him. That rocks! People really need a life if they are offended by what other people do. It's a sad world we live in when other people trip on what someone else wants or thinks. Your momma should have raised you better! And to everyone wanting a sparrow or swallow tattooed on them, DO IT! Who cares what anyone else thinks, if it means something to you or maybe you just thought it was cool, GO FOR IT! You are your own person and no one can tell you what you can and cant do! Much love to all of you out there!

k27 7 years ago


to me tattoos are a symbol for freedom of expression, no mater how young or old you are you should always consider that a tattoo is permanent. it is something you will always have with you, a picture or words that will always carry a story. different people can have their opinions on tattoos , ages at which you get them, and even what something means - but you have to remember there is always a reason as to why someone wants a tattoo. it will always mean something special to them. don't judge people due to what tattoo they have or want. it's their body, their skin, their life, and most importantly their decision.

I'm sixteen years old, my great grandfather just recently passed away. i was so extremely lucky to know such a great person like him. We had a very special relationship, one in which I've never found before. I've always liked tattoos and I've always considered asking for one. When i did my research on swallows i found the meaning to relate to him in almost every way. No he was not a sailor. But he was and always will be near my heart. He always found a way to overcome every struggle he ever faced. He always talked about the love of his life ( my great grandmother ) and how she was the only woman he could love so much. i know he will always be here for me, watching over me and guiding me - the reason i chose a swallow. in addition to the swallow i'd like to incorporate a buckeye. He always carried his lucky buckeye with him every where he went. When we buried him he still had that buckeye in his hand. He was the most loving and loyal man i knew , the reason why i'd like to put a beautiful piece of art on my body to always remember and show my love for him.

peace on earth 7 years ago

^ totally agree - go for it !

angelica 7 years ago

Hey My dad is 83 years old he has an old school swallow tattoo he had done in jail. Hes the best dad in the world. I want to have the same one done a little updated with color and the bird is carrying a banner. Any ideas on what to put on the banner? Is " daddy's girl" too ghetto or predictable?

rabbit 7 years ago

i understand what a lot of you are saying in that you want a swallow tattoo and you are going to do what you to do no matter what. i understand that. i think however you should not be so quick to write off people with strong opinions over the symbolic meaning of the swallow tattoo to sailors. i am 22 and in the merchant marines. i have multiple atlantic crossings under my belt with thousands and thousands of nautical miles. its important for sailors to keep traditions and share their sea stories. the swallow tattoo is an important representation for sailors to identify with. so when i see people my own age with a lot of nautical tattoos being either swallows, nautical stars, or anchors it is a little bit annoying. the reason being is that is takes hard work to earn these tattoo rights. when i see a hipster doofus running around with them it kind of deminishes the meaning for the true sailors. sort of false advertising. i have asked people with swallow tattoos if they went to sea and they don't know what i'm talking about. so its no big deal. but there is history behind the tattoo and for some people it means more then just a pretty bird. i just thought that instead of getting high and mighty or self righteous you should also consider the men at sea.

bone 7 years ago

Rabbit has hit the nail right on the head, personally as a U.S. Marine, all the dumbass kids getting military themed tattoos is very insulting to me. the swallows i have actually represent something ive accomplished and have meaning, ive actually got my 10k nautical miles and I actually have something to worry about when it comes to returning home safely.

emma 7 years ago

I'm 15, and I got 2 sparrows on my hips and it was a great choice.


Lina 7 years ago

People shouldn't be allowed to get a TATTOO if they aren't even able to correctly spell the word.

megan 7 years ago

hahahahaha puke! ur comment was awesomeness!

sylvie 7 years ago

I started thinking about the swallows when i heard about it thorugh a tatoo artist. I have had a particularly hard life. I have been moving non-stop since birth from my home land. I miss home dearly, but i am not ready to go home yet. In the end i will return. The meaning Not far from home, or i will return has been my thought of what swallows means. I also lost a son and feel there is some value of getting that tat as a reminder. A bird can also signify angles wings and or guardian angel in a time of struggle.

Taylor 7 years ago

I have 2 swallow tattoos simply because im a salty sailor that has sailed well beyond 10,000 nautical miles...

millertime 7 years ago

OK, personally, when I first saw the art of the swallow I was really just taken aback--then I read into the history of the swallow tattoo. I have not ever been to sea, nor have I served in the Navy or Coast Guard [but I have considered the idea]; however, like how a swallow stays close to home/family/roots--I have found myself really drawn to that aspect of the symbolism. I am planning on getting two flying together up the side of my back--I do not want to offend any sailors or military, that is not at all my intention--I just really like the symbolism of staying close to home/family/roots and loyalty as these have always been important aspects of my life.

Stephanie 7 years ago

Okay. I understand what a lot of people on here have said defending their beliefes that sailors and servicemen should only be getting swallows/anchors/nautical stars put onto their body. It's perfectly natural to feel that way, and I encourage you to express your opinions... But seriously, all the little hipsters that get these as tattos do it because they're "pretty" or "in style". Other people, attatch their own meaning to the designs.

No one is claiming to be a sailor when they're not. It doeasn't devalue what you have done to earn your tattoos. If anything, it brings more meaning, because you can have the pride that you actually earned yours. Don't judge other people by the tattos they decide to get...

ANYWAYS, I've been in love with the idea and look of sparrows for about 3 years now. I have nautical stars on my hips, and I'm thinking of getting sparrows done on my shoulders. Personally though, I'm not a huge fan of color, so I think, like with my stars, I'm gonna keep it simple... Black and skin :]

amanda 7 years ago


sean 7 years ago

you are all fags

bmeguest 7 years ago

You should credit BME or wherever you took the photos from. I see my own tattoos in those pictures and while I'm certainly not sorry they're on the internet, you should really be giving credit where it is due.

Kitty 5 years ago

Clearly the arguing isn't changing anyone's mind.

esme 5 years ago

im 16 and i was pregnant and for reasons my baby died. me and my boyfriend are going together pretty soon to get a sparrow in memory of a child that we have lost in faith that the sparrow will take his or her spirit to heaven.

becca 4 years ago

I have wanted a swallow tattoo since I was 17. I'll admit, I just thought it was cool & that's why I wanted it. Ive always been a bird person, they are just so free. They can touch the sky, but I know the meaning now & I still love the idea. I am 23 now & getting married next year to love of my life & I LOVE the fact that swallows are monogamous. I come from a family of divorce & I don't believe in it & when I found my fiancé I knew wed always be together. & yes I want it on my lower back, Cough NOT A TRAMP STAMP cough.. I want it there for my own reasons, so I can hide it if I want & show it when I want. Its not because im ashamed or anything, its for my own reason, so yeah I thought of this idea when I was 17 & I still want it 6 years later. so if you want it get it, its YOUR body decorate it how you want. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.

Capt 4 years ago

As a Captain and a Merchant marine you are all getting a Tattoo you didn't earn. If you are gonna get a swallow don't put it on your chest! Its reserved for us that put in our miles at sea. I don't care who you knew or are related to you. If you didn't ear the miles you are disrespecting us that have. I have 45,000 miles at sea at the age of 28 and I am just know getting my swallows and the exta stars for the extra miles. You should have respect for the tradition that we live not some hipster shit. BTW the guy getting the swallows before going to the Navy u will get an ass woopin first week on the boat. Just a heads up.

meow 4 years ago

I like swallows.

sarah 4 years ago

look, forget these 'rules' about who can get what. It's wonderful that there are tattoos that represent the military, and are considered badges of honor. But for the average person nowadays, tattoos are art. Tattoos represent moments in our lives. I am in my 30s, have several tattoos, and have never been military. One piece is a heart aflame with a swallow on either side, along with gladiolas and my daughters name, all on the back of my neck. It has a deep

meaning to me, I'm entitled to it. I don't have to go to sea for it to be valid, and that shouldn't be insulting. I can understand if someone is newly enlisted and gets that tattoo'd why it'd be in poor taste, but for 'civilians' that find different meaning and beauty in them, why should anyone care? I love our military, I'm very patriotic. But really tattoos

don't belong to anyone, and their symbologies can multiple.

wooo 4 years ago

first of all, i am glad that SOMEONE finally tried to make sure people understand that swallows and sparrows are different. I want a sparrow (not the ever popular swallow) because of biblical symbolism, but it sucks thinking people may confuse it with a swallow.

also, obviously everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and everyone is entitled to get whatever tattoo they want. I agree with being able to decide for yourself, but i also agree with a healthy respect for tradition. i would be a little peeved if got something that was meaningful and symbolic and then someone else just got it cause it was popular; but again, to each his own, try to put yourselves in other peoples shoes, both sides! i am researching tattoo ideas i have wanted because i wouldn't want to find out that something i make permanent has some meaning i don't know about.

finally, with all the comments about 16 and 17 year olds getting tattoos, i think the main point (although poorly stated) is this: don't be in too much of a hurry, because things you think are set in stone now may change in a few years. the reason people who are older are speaking out so strongly about it is because they have lived it with one thing or another, so don't take it too personally. heck, i was POSITIVE about some things in my life at 19, and now i am 25 and i have grown and changed and thank goodness i didn't make some of my "loves" then permanent. however, i have wanted tattoos since... i can't remember when, and as long as you are doing the research and being responsible, don't worry. i am personally a big fan of tattoos with meaning, both of the ones i have now have meaning, and the ones i am researching for have it too, but hey! it's life, to each his own.

unlikely_tat_girl 4 years ago

i feel i need to say something to the young ones commenting on here, getting a tattoo in the uk under the age of 18 is ILLEGAL, its actually classed as assault, i am in no way against tattoos, im a good 30-40% covered, and by some awesome artists too but i waited till i was 18 to start, have respect for the artists, the art and the blank canvas that is your body, put in the time, effort, and patience it takes to get your tattoos right the first time and you will never regret them, art is art, everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it, tattoos are walking art and you don't have to earn them, whatever they are, they mean something to the person wearing them and that's all that matters, i don't ask people what theirs mean, just who did them, those that are proud will explain them and those that are not, wont, judging someone by the art on their skin is wrong and if the girl wanting awesomeness right at the top of this page ever had it done....kudos, that tattoo will forever remind you of your youth and how bonkers you were then!

Wrong 3 months ago

Not a single of those tattoos were sparrows. They all have split tails which a sparrow does not.

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