50+ Anchor Tattoos That Aren’t Just for Sailors

By Jason Hamilton / December 11, 2018
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There are countless tattoo designs for both men and women to choose from and the only limit is their imagination. Despite the infinite number of designs out there, one imagery that remains to be a top choice in the tattoo industry are anchor tattoos. Many people think that this design is only popular among those in the maritime services. However, in actuality, the anchor holds a deeper meaning for everyone else.

When thinking about anchor tattoos, one will easily think about the iconic Popeye The Sailorman’s forearm ink. The design suits the character perfectly as the cartoon portrays Popeye as a man of the sea who’s a physically strong and capable man. But what do anchor tattoos really mean and how did the tattoo industry adopt it?


The Origin of Anchor Tattoos


Many of us associate anchor symbols to sailors and other maritime personnel. However, most of us don’t know that it is also related to religion, specifically with Christianity.


It all started when the Romans prosecuted the Christians during the ancient times, the latter spent most of their time hiding from those who wanted them gone. Those who refused to hide but wanted to stay strong with their faith decided to use the anchor as a makeshift cross. This allowed them to acknowledge their religion in secret as at the time. This is because the Romans were hunting down people who held crosses at their hands. For the Christians, the anchor was a perfect fit for a replacement as not only was it an unknown symbol by the Romans but the anchor’s top part also closely resembled a cross.

Aside from this, the anchor’s religious connections are also tied to the fact that most of Jesus Christ’s disciples were fishermen. Some of his miracles also involved maritime themes such as when he walked on water. Also, when he multiplied a small number of bread and fish to feed hundreds of followers.



The anchor shares a few resemblances with the popular Ankh symbol. Thus, ancient Egyptians considered it as a representation of life. As the years progressed and naval warfare became more popular, it became more and more associated with maritime services.

During the 1500s after the British Navy defeated a Spanish naval fleet, people started using anchors as some kind of a calling card for sailors and servicemen. Also, sea exploration was starting to take shape during this period and the anchor became a crucial equipment for ships looking to get from one point to the other.


By the 1900s, people began using anchor tattoos as a mark that symbolizes the lineage of being servicemen for families. Generations upon generations of servicemen in one family bore the mark to symbolize their devotion to the maritime life. It’s not just the anchor tattoo that was passed down from generation to generation as some families made specific symbols that only they could have.

When maritime warfare was increasingly becoming frequent, fewer men began enlisting to the navy. Before that, many of the males in one family had an anchor tattoo. But by the modernization of warfare, it was more common to see a grandfather, a father and the son sporting the same tattoo.


Additionally, the anchor’s ties to maritime services are also one of the reasons why people associate anchor tattoos and other anchor symbols with strength and masculinity. This is probably the main reason why the creators of Popeye decided to let him sport the now iconic tattoo.

The Meanings Behind Anchor Tattoos

Like the fox tattoo designs, anchor tattoos also have various meanings. In fact, many cultures have their own view of the said symbol.


Because of its robust history, anchor tattoo meanings come aplenty. First off, it symbolizes salvation, enlightenment, hope, and dedication to greater good because of its religious ties. People can use it to help signify their strong devotion to God and how religion serves as their saving grace.

Furthermore, beyond its religious ties, people also believe that anchor tattoos are a symbolism for the connection of feminine and masculine powers. The crescent or the bottom part of the anchor represents the female element. On the other hand, the rod or the top portion is associated with masculinity as it resembles the male phallus. In general, the tattoo serves as a representation of the balance between man and woman.

Perhaps the most crucial is its symbolism for loyalty and honor. The anchor tattoos are also a good symbolism of a person’s loyalty to another person or entity because people mostly associate it with maritime services and men of the sea. A person can also use the symbol to signify that he shares the core values of maritime services.

Ideal Placements for Anchor Tattoos

Anchor tattoos don’t just have versatile meanings; they are also adaptable to tattoo placements too just like the white tattoo designs. Men and women can place the symbol on their chest, arms and even their back. What is important is that the design they chose will be the best representation of what they believe in. But if you’re wondering how you can give your anchor tattoos an extra oomph, here are some ideas for your anchor tattoos’ placement.

Anchor Tattoos for Women

For women, having a tattoo can accentuate their body features and can even add more sophistication and sexiness. The collarbone, forearm, and ankles offer a nice canvas that will give you a classier aura. On the other hand, the spots like the hips and rib areas will give you that sultry look. Be careful, though, as tattoos on bony areas could cause you more discomfort than other body parts that have more muscles.

A big arrow tattoo on the forearm adorned with softly drawn flowers


A classic feather and anchor tattoos placed on the inner part of the forearm

A classic image of a rope wrapped around an anchor placed on the side of the forearm


Roses and anchor tattoos combined and placed on the inner forearm

A rope wrapped around an anchor with silhouettes of flying birds


A minimalist arrow tattoo inked over splats of different colors

An anchor tattoo placed over a ship’s steering wheel situated on the right side of the ribs

A unique anchor tattoo with a heart on top tattooed on the right part of the rib area


Classic anchor tattoos adorned with pink peony flowers placed on the rib cage area

One of the classic design variations of anchor tattoos placed on the ride side of the ribs made with black ink



Big colored tattoos of a swallow and anchor tattoos with waves

A small classic tattoo of an anchor placed on the upper part of the rib cage


Lady Gaga wearing a small outline of an anchor tattoo on the left side of her ribs


Another classic anchor tattoo but with a powerful message about the wearer

Classic images of anchor tattoos inked just below the collarbones


A simple collarbone tattoo of an anchor made with black ink

Another simple anchor tattoo placed just below the collarbone but is a bit smaller

A combination of infinity and anchor tattoos on the right part of the hips that will remind you to “love life.”


An outline of roses and anchor tattoos placed just below the rib cage area that extends down to the hips

Realistic drawing of different flowers and anchor tattoos on the hips


An anchor tattoo with a heart on top drawn using a black ink


A small anchor tattoo on the right ankle placed over splats of blue, orange, pink, and purple ink

A simple but solid tattoo of an anchor on the inner ankle made with black ink

A classic image of an anchor with a rope wrapped around

An anchor tattoo with a chain wrapped around instead of the traditional rope

A cute and unique anchor tattoo adorned with a heart and a pink bow

An anchor tattoo made with a G clef and hearts on the inner part of the ankle

Anchor Tattoos for Men

Since anchor tattoos were first used by maritime personnel. the said symbol can reflect how strong you are. Additionally, people also consider it as a sign of masculinity. For that reason, many men favor anchor tattoos. When placed correctly on the body, it can accentuate your muscles too. For men, the common placements of anchor tattoos that will accentuate the body are on the chest and rib area. At times, an anchor tattoo on the forearm can accentuate the arm muscles too. Meanwhile, if you want a more detailed anchor tattoo, choose the back area as it offers a neat and big canvas for that richly-detailed piece.

A trash polka tattoo of an anchor that gives off a unique feel just like the other trash polka tattoos.

An anchor tattoo with Jesus Christ’s image to represent your faith

A full upper back tattoo of an anchor detailed with stars, wings, and a skull

A smaller anchor tattoo with a rope made with good shade work

A simple back piece that’s a bit different from the traditional images of anchor tattoos we’ve all gotten used to

An anchor with rope placed on the upper right corner of the back made with black and reddish brown ink

An arrow design drawn as if it’s sketched placed on the elbow area

A compass and anchor tattoos added with a text written in a scroll

A classic anchor image drawn on the inner forearm added with initials

A very simple and thin tattoo of an anchor situated on the forearm

Another one of the classic images of anchor tattoos but with a quote

An anchor tattoo placed below a compass colored using the watercolor technique

Anchor tattoos made with black ink placed on the inner forearms

A rib tattoo of an anchor placed over a compass

An impressive anchor tattoo on the ribs made with good dotwork

Another dotwork tattoo of an anchor but this time, it has a Bible verse written on a banner

A cross that’s chained to a cross instead of a rope

An anchor with a mermaid drawn on the left side of the ribs

An anchor tattoo in 3D placed on the left side of the rib cage

A combination of ship wheel, compass, and anchor tattoos placed on the chest

A simple anchor tattoo placed in the middle of the chest

An impressive slanted 3D anchor tattooed on the left side of the chest

Another one of the realistic anchor tattoos on the sternum

An anchor adorned with wings and flowers covering the entire chest area

A full chest piece of eagles, waves, and anchor tattoos

While these placement ideas for you anchor tattoos look good, the decision is still in your hands. At the end of the day, what’s important is that you’re happy with your chosen tattoo placement. Which one of these ideas do you think will work best for your taste? Tell us on the comments section below.

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About the author

Jason Hamilton

Jason has been an avid fan of tattoos for over 13 years now. He is currently 35 years old, and he got his first tattoo at the age of 22. Since then, he has added over 20 tattoos to his collection. He is also into writing, which is why he decided to celebrate both of his passion and hobby through tats ‘n’ rings. Jason dreams of having his very own tattoo parlor soon. Jason would be very happy to answer any questions about tattoos that you may have! Leave a comment below and he’ll answer it for you right away!

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