Tattoo Ideas: Words & Phrases
Written by: Jaclyn Popola
Of the thirteen tattoos I have permanently inked onto my skin for all time, four of them contain words or phrases. There's a single word on my lower stomach that hails from the Elvish language created in the "Lord of the Rings" saga by J.R.R. Tolkien, "wake your dreams" is on the back of my neck, "i only want now" is located on my lower back, and a Polish quote that means "anything I could desire, I already have" wraps around my upper bicep. As an avid reader and obsessive writer, I have maintained a love affair with the written word since learning how to read at age four. No matter how many times I tell myself, "Okay, my next tattoo is going to be an image", I always seem to end up getting more words.
We use words to convey meaning and express desire, to give solace and provide comfort, to impact and inspire. Getting someone's name tattooed can be a permanent memorial of a loved one who has passed away; inking the initials of your partner's name on your body can represent your eternal commitment to one another; a quote from a favorite book or movie can serve as a daily reminder to live the ideals expressed in that particular saying.
And with so many different languages in the world, the possibilities are endless. Famous actress Angelina Jolie has a Pali incantation written in Khmer, the native language of her adopted son's birthplace, Cambodia. Others choose Japanese "kanjii" characters to represent the word or phrase they want to display. Keep in mind, however, that if you get a tattoo in a different in a place that is easily visible to passersby, you will constantly be asked the same question over and over again without fail: "What does your tattoo mean?"
If you're thinking about getting a tat, keep in mind that ideas are all around us at any given moment. If you have a favorite song lyric, instead of getting the actual words, think about getting the corresponding music notes or guitar tabs. If you're interested in getting yours or someone else's name, select a fancy font like Old English to make it interesting. Binary and barcode tattoos are also very popular right now because websites like Nickciske.com can be used to turn words and phrases into a series of numbers that only you will be able to understand. I am constantly on the lookout for new tattoo ideas, and currently I am considering two in particular: a quote by artist Kurt Halsey tattooed on my wrist that says "we are more than most will ever know" or a line from Dr. Seuss' children's book The Lorax which reads "unless someone like you cares a whole awful, nothing is going to get better--it's not."
Here are some examples of the many things you can do with lettering tattoos, all courtesy of the wildly popular Bmezine.com.
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