Anchor Tattoo Designs & Their Meaning

You don’t have to be a sailor to enjoy an anchor tattoo. If you’re looking to get inked, this is a classic option that fits into a variety of contexts.

While it could be used as a secular symbol of strength and stability, anchors are a common, traditional marking for Christians, as well.

Whatever significance the anchor has for you, we’re confident you can find a suitable design. Learn more here about the meaning behind this object and popular placement options.

Anchor Symbolism

Historically, sailors used anchor tattoos as a symbol of their profession. They’re popular among those in the U.S Navy, but we don’t have to be so limiting.

Many individuals enjoy the symbolism here and anchor tattoos are a common ink option worldwide.

An anchor comes with several different meanings, including:

  • Stability.
  • Hope.
  • Life.


People have long used the anchor as a symbol for stability or groundedness, which is the ability to stay focused and calm in the face of swirling emotions. There’s a sense of practicality and perseverance here.

If you imagine an anchor being confronted by strong waves, it stays firm, secure and unaffected. You can apply this to many scenarios in life and an anchor tattoo can mimic that feeling.


The anchor is also a symbol of hope. When a ship lifts its anchor out of the water, it’s a signal to everyone that the ship is off on a new journey. It’s a wonderful metaphor for how someone might feel when they leave their worries behind for another life.

You can use an anchor to represent your aspirations, dreams or the hope you carry along on the road ahead. If you’re approaching a big change in your life, an anchor tattoo could be an appropriate representation of that.


In Egypt, the ankh is a symbol of immortality, the universe and life, in general. While it’s not your traditional anchor by design, the shapes are quite similar.

You can easily carry this theme over into your anchor tattoo, as well. What is it that you’re passionate about in life? What does life mean to you? Take these ideas and incorporate them into your anchor tattoo design.

Popular Anchor Tattoo Designs

Some anchor tattoos come with the anchor alone. Other illustrations include combinations such as a skull, eagle, wings or more. Our options are endless, but let’s have a look at some of the most popular choices:

Couple Anchor Tattoo

People in love may choose to represent their relationship with matching anchor tattoos. These often feature a crown on top of the anchor with something like “my king” or “my anchor” written near it.

This could be an excellent anniversary present to each other. You can choose colors and a styling that suit your relationship or one another.

Rose and Anchor Tattoo

This tattoo design signifies sacrifice, loyalty, honor and love. Roses, especially red and white ones, have a connection with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty.

Did you know that each rose color carries a different meaning? For example, a white one symbolizes youthfulness, innocence and purity. A pink rose stands for sweetness, elegance and femininity. 

An anchor tattoo with red roses is also a way to pay tribute to deceased servicemen and servicewomen.

Popeye Anchor Tattoo

Most of us are familiar with this quintessential cartoon character. He’s a famous sailor figure that dates back to the 1920s. Popeye was originally created as an illustration in support of soldiers in World War II.

Sailors ink this tattoo to pay tribute to Navy servicemen of the past. However, many people still love Popeye, due to the cartoon itself. 

This tattoo usually includes Popeye with the anchor in front of him.

Mermaid Anchor Tattoo

Mermaids and anchors are another classic combination. The former represents a strong female figure that’s independent and beautiful. She might be inked in jewel-tone colors and long, flowing hair.

You’ll find it’s common that tattoo artists depict mermaids as a seductive figure with a suggestive posture or an enticing look on their face. This doesn’t have to be the case, though.

The mermaid may be sitting on the anchor or embracing it.

Eagle, Globe and Anchor Tattoo

There are three symbols here. The first being the national bird of the United States, which is the bald eagle. The second being the country’s mission to serve the globe. Lastly, the anchor represents the naval traditions of the U.S.

It’s rare to find this tattoo choice on those who aren’t a part of the military, but it’s possible. You’ll need a large area for placement, though, given there are three objects.

Infinity Symbol and Anchor Tattoo

The infinity symbol means “unending and going on forever”, while an anchor here represents strength and determination. When combined, you have a powerful illustration. 

You could even add your lover’s name as a symbol of everlasting love, for example.

Anchor and Heart Tattoo

A heart not only represents love, but also passion and adoration towards a loved one. This tattoo design is a great combination to convey the idea of finding stability and strength in love. 

In this combination, the heart and anchor can either appear as part of an integrated design or independent from one another.

Compass and Anchor Tattoo

Since both a compass and an anchor have nautical connections, they make for an excellent tattoo design.

A compass represents the ability to always know where you are, move in the right direction or find your way home. Pair that with an anchor and you have a strong symbol.

This could be a wonderful choice if you need to be reminded of your own strength or resilience in life. On another hand, you might just be a lover of all things sea-related and in this case, a compass and anchor tattoo could fit the bill.

Color Combinations

Some anchor tattoos can be simple, while others are quite colorful and large.

If you want a realistic look, you’ll go for black, gold and brown to represent age and rust. A metal appearance is good to imagine.

Women often choose anchor designs with roses and other flowers because these depict gentleness and feminism.

Common Placement Options


If you’d like to have a small anchor tattoo, but in a visible location, you could opt for your neck, slightly below your ear. It’ll stand out, but not too much. You can also conceal it with a scarf or turtleneck in the winter.

Shoulder, Back and Upper Arm

The shoulder is wide enough to accommodate an anchor tattoo that has other objects with it. Or perhaps you want an elaborate anchor on its own.

Mermaid and anchor tattoos or compass and anchor tattoos would be lovely in this location.

For those looking to display their respect for the military, the eagle and globe variety is fitting for the upper arm.

Alternatively, small anchor designs could fit women on the lower back around the spine.

Ankle and Wrist

These locations are other appropriate options for the small anchor tattoos. This includes the couple anchor design or a floral arrangement. An infinity symbol could fit on the ankle or wrist, too.

Do be careful with inking these areas because they’re known to be quite painful. This is especially the case for those that are getting a tattoo for the first time.