Tattoos With Secret Meanings

Before you get that tattoo, you may want to know how it may be understood, or misunderstood, by those who see it. Worried that the dude with the teardrop tat just killed someone? Maybe. Maybe not.

Dot to Dot

See a lot of three-dot tattoos making a sort of triangle? It represents "Mi Vida Loca" or "my crazy life" and is usually used by Hispanics and often by Hispanic gangs.

Is He Really a Killer?

We've all heard the urban legend. If you have a teardrop tattoo, it means you've killed someone. Sometimes. But not always. Amar'e Stoudemire got his to pay homage to his dead brother. When asked about his teardrop, Lil Wayne, shown here, merely replied, "Lord, forgive me."

Every King Needs His Crown

The five-point crown identifies the wearer as a member of the Latin Kings gang. A.L.K.N. stands for Almighty Latin King Nation.

Like Five on Dice

Go up to five dots and it means something else entirely. The four dots on the outside represent prison wall and the one dot in the center represents the inmate. Therefore the tat represents that the wearer spent time in prison.

Masters of the South

"Sureño" means "southerner" in Spanish and the tat is identified with the Mexican Mafia. The number 13 can identify the letter M and a member of the Mexican Mafia.

North Versus South

If there is a Sureño, there must be a Norteño which, yes, means "northerner," which can also be represented by an "N" and the number 14, the 14th letter of the alphabet. This tattoo represents the sworn enemies of the Mexican Mafia, members of Nuestra Familia.

Luck O' The Irish

OK, a little care here. Lots of people think the shamrock is kind of cute, especially if they're drunk and it's St. Patrick's Day. But if the wearer seems a little intimidating there's a good chance he's a member of the Aryan Brotherhood.


Remember the sweet, innocent cartoon Woody Woodpecker? Well, white-power gangs have found a way to turn him into a racist symbol. Evidently, peckerwood was at some point a derisive term used by some blacks to refer to whites. Racist white gangs co-opted the symbol, and Woody himself, as a symbol of white supremacy.

Caught in the Web

Just as prey is caught in the web of the spider, the wearer of a spiderweb tattoo usually had been caught in the prison system.

Anchors Aweigh

Not all tattoo meanings are ominous. To deserve an anchor tattoo, you generally need to have served in the U.S. Navy.