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Dagger Tattoos: What Do They Symbolise?

The history of tattooing can be traced back several millennia, with civilisations including the ancient Greeks and Romans known to have engaged in the practice. It makes sense, then, that many people today might want to get themselves inked with the traditional symbol of the dagger.

What is a dagger? It is a short, two-sided blade that has been used in hand-to-hand combat throughout various eras of human history. The dagger’s design has also long included a very sharp point intended to facilitate thrusting or stabbing.

Daggers have been crafted in many different designs. Neolithic daggers often comprised such materials as flint, bone, and ivory, while royalty of predynastic Egypt wore golden-hilted daggers.

It’s therefore not hard to see why many people are drawn to the image of the dagger despite its association with violence. You could even ‘sample’ a dagger tattoo by slipping into, say, a dagger tattoo t-shirt possibly combining the dagger motif with another symbol.


What does a dagger tattoo mean?

The dagger has taken on various meanings throughout history. You might be familiar with the phrase “cloak and dagger”, which represents mystery and intrigue.

Indeed, the small size of daggers enables them to be easily concealed so that they can be brought out just when they are needed. This tradition of the dagger has imbued it with dark meanings. For example, daggers have often been used in assassinations, like that of Julius Caesar.

However, the dagger can be used for honourable purposes. This is why it often appears in the insignias of military units, as the dagger can symbolise bravery or courage.

It can feel like there are a multitude of answers to the question: “What do dagger tattoos mean?” In any case, if you intend to sport such a tattoo design as a form of self-expression, you could make it especially visible by investing in outerwear like a dagger tattoo hoodie.


What does a dagger tattoo symbolise?

You only have to look at classic literature to see how human fascination with daggers has persisted. The ill-fated Romeo and Juliet take their lives with a dagger, while the hobbit Bilbo Baggins holds an Elvish dagger he refers to as Sting.

In the modern age, a dagger emblem can carry any of the following associations: 

  • Strength and protection: Much like an actual dagger can be used for self-defence purposes, the symbol of a dagger can warn people not to mess with you.
  • Masculinity or femininity: A dagger can represent the former when pointing upwards — bringing to mind spears and swords — but look more feminine when pointing downwards.
  • Sacrifice: Historically, a Japanese dagger known as a tantō would be used by samurai to ensure they died honourably rather than at an enemy’s hand.
  • Constancy: In the William Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet, the latter uses a dagger to convince Friar Lawrence of her enduring love for Romeo.

It does bear emphasis that, ultimately, the meaning of a dagger symbol can also be specific to the person who wears it — a strong incentive for you to pick up, for example, a dagger tattoo sweatshirt.


Traditional dagger tattoos

As a dagger is a weapon, the use of this symbol in a tattoo can seem too dark for mainstream tastes. However, as a dagger is narrow and long, it can be depicted especially effectively on particular parts of the body — such as the back, arms, legs or hips.

A dagger portrayed by itself — i.e. without any accompanying symbols — in a tattoo can indicate virtue, loyalty, bravery, danger, or ferocity. So, what does a dagger tattoo mean when a secondary element is thrown in? This depends on the element, which can be any of the following:

  • Snake: Given that snakes symbolise a threat or challenge, a dagger-and-snake combination can indicate determination to overcome inner turmoil.
  • Heart: Are you suffering from heartbreak, grief, or bereavement? Perhaps you have taken a metaphorical “dagger to the heart” and are now looking to indicate so.
  • Skull: As the saying goes, life is short, and you need to enjoy it while you can. This mantra is represented when you combine a dagger with a skull, which represents mortality.


What does a rose and dagger tattoo mean?

The rose-and-dagger tattoo design makes for an enchanting duality, as the rose’s beauty and purity are contrasted with the dagger suggesting the potential for betrayal and tragedy.

We have incorporated a rose-and-dagger design into traditional tattoo inspired clothing, which we are able to deliver to UK addresses as well as to a range of international destinations.