Semicolon Tattoos and Their Meaning
The semicolon tattoo is a symbol of hope for life. You can choose to personalize it by intertwining it with a message, alter it with an illustration, or combine it with a relevant symbol.
Not sure exactly how you want yours to look? Find out the different ways to emphasize your message with our guide on semicolon tattoos.
Semicolon Meanings in Tattoos
The semicolon or “;” ink can be an odd sight. After all, it’s a punctuation mark that, without context, some feel is an unusual choice for your ink. However, there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Project Semicolon, or Project, is a worldwide initiative dedicated to suicide prevention and preserving mental health. Suicide is a worldwide pandemic—one person loses their life to suicide every 40 seconds.
The semicolon tattoo is usually illustrative of support for those who’ve survived suicidal thoughts, and an encouragement to those still struggling. Putting its use into the English language context, the semicolon is used when the writer could have ended the sentence but chose not to—an appropriate symbol for a tattoo illustrating the intent to persevere.
Some believe that by marking the semicolon with specific colors, a further personalization can be achieved, such as yellow for depression, green for eating disorders, orange for bipolar, and gray for schizophrenia.
If you want to mark that milestone moment you chose to seek recovery or find courage in the tattoo for your silent fight, or both, getting a colored semicolon ink might be an appropriate decision.
The semicolon tattoo, however, doesn’t need to be reserved for those wanting to mark a specific disorder. In fact, the punctuation mark can be an important symbol of optimism for anyone trying to defeat a personal demon or an unsolvable situation.
There’s nothing more inspiring for change than a tattoo that reminds you of the promise for better days.
Another meaning the punctuation mark brings is that of defying all odds, as a result of your willpower. Is your ambition one of your most valued assets? If so, consider a semicolon tattoo as a reminder to keep pushing through.
Just like water, which finds its way around every obstacle, this ink carries a notion of flexibility, finding the way to continue, even when impediments arise. This makes it a perfect choice for anyone who wants to inspire these qualities in themselves.
Popular Semicolon Tattoo Designs
Within a Word
This is one of the most common choices, and for a good reason—it not only emphasizes the support for suicide prevention but infuses the design with an intention for life after the semicolon.
In these cases, you can often see the semicolon replacing the letter ‘i’ in the composition of words like:
People usually choose to ink their semicolon and the word surrounding it in fonts such as “sans serif” and “courier new,” but don’t be afraid to experiment.
While this is more often than not a standard all-black ink, you can ask your artist for white ink, which will personalize this design even more.
A heart rate with a semicolon in the middle can also represent an accident or a situation in which the tattoo owner could’ve lost their life. This allows for a tweak into the meaning of the ink but can also serve to still show support for mental health.
The most common colors associated with this design are red, black, and sometimes white. The opportunities are limitless, but you can choose to place it on the forearm, behind the ear, or on the wrist—areas where the pulse is strong.
Bow and Arrow
A bow and an arrow, on the other hand, signifies the momentum of human life. A semicolon tattoo can be modified to look like these symbols to illustrate bravery, the strength of spirit, and the choice to keep fighting.
This design is often seen on the forearm or the wrist, although they’re a great option for the ribcage, too.
If you choose to get a bow and an arrow with your semicolon, you can certainly experiment with color for the bow’s riser. Brown is a realistic choice here or go with blue to emphasize spirituality and freedom.
A bird or a flock of birds can be a perfect choice if you’re looking to emphasize your sense of happines after a mental struggle. You’ll often see a flock of birds emerging from the full stop part of the semicolon, leaving it dispersed halfway.
To make this design even more alive, opt for a different color choice in the two elements of the semicolon. For example, you can decide to have the dot in purple and the birds and comma in blue, or you can choose three different colors entirely.
This ink is most often seen on an ankle or a forearm.
If you like the fact that a butterfly, to become one, has to go through a caterpillar stage, then you might have found the best tattoo design for you.
You can use the semicolon in place of the body, or the base of the butterfly’s wings, which will inevitably carry the meaning of transformation and acceptance with life’s rules.
Since butterflies are small, it combines well in the usual locations of a semicolon tattoo, such as a wrist, ribcage, ankle, and back of the neck.
While you can keep the punctuation itself black, the wings open a vast opportunity for colors to your liking.
Common Semicolon Tattoo Colors
The semicolon tattoo may not be the most exciting choice in terms of colors, primarily due to its simple design, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick with black. Consider these alternatives:
White ink doesn’t pop as much as others do, especially black. This makes it a more invisible tattoo color and is ideal if you want a personal tattoo.
White, especially, is a symbol of hope, making it perfect for this style of tattoo.
Alternatively, white ink is just stylish and isn’t all that common, so you’ll get some originality with a balance between a statement and subtlety.
If you’re considering a semicolon tattoo blending with a bird or butterfly, think about putting some white in there. They all signify brightness, life, and hope, making them a powerful combination.
Whether or not you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, a rainbow color base makes for a remarkable contrast. They’re a symbol of pride and joy, making them an excellent partner for the semicolon to depict the changes in the course of life and the strength in personal battles.
Rainbow-colored semicolon tattoos are often seen behind the ear, looking almost like jewelry, and are suitable for anyone who doesn’t shy away from bright-colored accessories.
Those who want an optimistic nature to their semicolon tattoo are likely to opt for a shade. If you don’t want to venture too far from the traditional black, a dark green can look similar but with a slight hue. This is a good way to add some identity to this popular tattoo style. Alternatively, you can go bright and vibrant while still retaining that optimism.
Since there’s a strong link between nature, the outdoors and what the semicolon means, green is a good way to reflect how nature has helped you through a struggle.
Popular Semicolon Tattoo Placements
Semicolon tattoos on the neck, behind the ear, and on the wrist, are a common sight, though other placements can also be seen:
Neck and Spine
Tattoos at the back of the neck usually coincide with the top of the spine, and this always makes for a memorable appearance. This location also makes for a meaningful statement, as it will give the impression that it’s a central theme to your existence.
If you’re someone to stand with those who struggle with mental health daily and want to underline its significance, a tattoo at the base of the spine is a great way to do this.
Ear and Wrist
It’s a powerful image to see a semicolon tattoo where the pulse is strong.
Ink behind the ear or on the wrist provides for both subtlety and an emphasis on the choice to live, not the struggle.
The altered semicolon is often seen on the back of the neck, the side of the wrist, or below the pinkie. It’s a perfect way for carrying the symbol for hope of life in a lighthearted way.
An alternative way to bring out an emphasis on life would be to choose to get your ink on your ribcage, below your left breast. This means your new artwork is close to your heart.
This area is especially prominent since the ribcage house such an important organ, representing the balance between a weak heart and a sturdy ribcage.
If you have a low level of body fat, consider a lateral semicolon tattoo between or on a rib to draw attention to that area. This could be prominent during the warmer months at the beach for you to show off your pride.