The anchor has been a popular symbol throughout history, and it’s one of the first themes that comes to mind when people think of tattoos.

Popeye, anyone?

Most people would be surprised to know that the anchor symbol is tied to early Christianity. While being persecuted by the Roman Empire, Christians were forced to hide their faith and its symbolism to avoid death. If you look closely at an anchor, you can see the symbol of the cross hidden within. This understood “deeper meaning” allowed Christians to represent their faith without sacrificing their lives. 

Going back even further, the ancient Egyptians used an anchor-like symbol known as an ankh to symbolize life itself—the upper part of the anchor representing the male persona and characteristics, and the bottom crescent is its female counterpart. 

The Meaning of Anchor Tattoos

Its direct connection with boats and sailing makes it a natural choice for sailors, fishermen, or divers—anyone whose career or hobbies take them to the water.

They became quite popular in the 1500’s, when the British Royal Navy adopted the anchor as a symbol following its victory over the Spanish fleet. 

The Modern Take on Anchor Tattoos

It’s military symbolism continues today as sailors in the U.S. Navy use the anchor tattoo to signify someone who has successfully crossed the Atlantic ocean.

Apart from its military service connection, the anchor symbol is most often used to express a simple yet deep association with its function—to hold a boat or ship stable and secure against the current, in stormy seas, and in wind that sweeps across the waters. 

That association connects to the following character traits: 

  • Stability
  • Steadfastness
  • Honor
  • Hope
  • Composure
  • Calm
  • Bravery
  • Security
  • Salvation
  • Loyalty
  • Dedication to the greater good
  • Protection

Like all other tattoos, anchors can mean different things to different people; the symbolism is ultimately up to the individual wearing the ink.

Popular Variations of the Anchor Tattoo

Anchor tattoos have long been popular among men, but they are also seeing increased popularity with women, who often opt for a chic and stylish take on the classic theme. 

Popular variations on the anchor tattoo include:

  • Navy anchor tattoos that may use the word Navy, the initials USN (US Navy), and/or the colors of the American flag
  • Eagle, globe, and anchor tattoos that symbolize the U.S. Marine Corps
  • Anchor and heart tattoos
  • Anchor and rope tattoos
  • Anchor and chain tattoos
  • Anchor and compass tattoos

The design possibilities for anchor tattoo designs are endless, and they can be of almost any size, including small finger or wrist tattoos, medium-sized forearm or shoulder tattoos, to an element in a large sleeve or back tattoo design.

Get a Custom Anchor Tattoo

Consider coming in for an appointment to discuss with the artist the amazing possibilities anchor tattoos offer.

The best tattoo is the one that’s unique to you.

Click here to fill out the contact form, and let’s get your anchor tattoo underway.