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6 Most Popular Back Tattoos (and Their True Meanings)

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People choose to have certain tattoos done for very specific reasons. And they also choose to have those tattoos placed in certain areas for very specific reasons aside from “can easily be covered by clothing at work” or “if I get it done on the face then I won’t ever have a job to go to in the first place.” But some people never know what they are truly saying when they get one of the following most popular tattoos for one of the most chosen areas of the body…



close-up of a purple butterfly tattoo on a woman’s lower back


As is the case in most art, the butterfly in tattoo form represents evolution, rebirth, and/or personal growth. But remember, this is in “tattoo form,” which means it also represents wanting something adorable that isn’t quite a unicorn because you didn’t want your entire back to look like a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper cover or everyone to keep looking at the horn and drawing their own Freudian conclusions.



close-up of a tattoo of two red flowers and leaves on a woman’s lower back


Nothing signifies beauty and especially purity like a flower. Hence the term “deflower,” which may ultimately dictate where you get this design placed. Of course, a flower tattoo can also be an expression of your true love of—and compassion for—nature…or maybe just the fact you walked into the tattoo parlor pointing to a design on a random hoodie while saying, “I want this but without the Ed Hardy signature.”



large tattoo of a sparrow on a branch with a flower petal in its mouth across a woman’s back


The bird has always alluded to a sense of freedom, to a desire to escape one’s earth-bound responsibilities and soar above and beyond all petty concerns and fears. It may also denote your love of eating bugs, going up and down the seaboard with a bunch of like-minded friends every six months, swooping down screaming when anyone goes near your home, or believing anyplace is your restroom if you can get away fast enough before the person starts cursing you out.



close-up of a heart tattoo with wings and the names Brittney and Jake on a lower back


As has always been the case, the heart symbolizes true devotion, whether as a locket, carved into a tree that may actually be an Ent now stuck its own unwanted and unexpected tattoo, or etched on your back with both your name and the jackass you’re going to dump within three weeks of sitting in the chair and proudly proclaiming to the biker with the needle “Jake and I are going to be together forever, man! FOREVER!”



giant green dragon tattoo across a woman’s entire back


In Chinese culture the dragon means luck. That’s why so many couples in China try to conceive a baby in the Year of the Dragon. On the other hand, such luck can often be defined by how capable the artist is when you ask for a fire-breathing serpent to forever occupy your entire backside, since no one has ever considered themselves fortunate when they take off their shirt at the beach only for some stranger to suddenly blurt out, “Hey, that is one pissed off tapeworm you got drawn there!”


Abstract Tribal Something or Other

close-up of black ink Polynesian tribal tattoo across a woman’s top part of her back and up along the back of her neck


While there are certainly exceptions, more than likely this means you didn’t do the necessary historic and cultural research before deciding on your tattoo and now you’re wondering why some Maori warrior has taken your back art as a horrible slight to his family and outright declaration of war.


Which one was your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

Check out 8 Celebrity Tattoo Disasters!