500+ Dagger Tattoo Meaning – What do Dagger Tattoos Symbolize?

A plain dagger tattoo can show sacrifice, bravery, and loyalty, or be used to symbolize fighting, danger, fear, and ferocity. When paired with a heart, rose, or skull, dagger tattoo designs often symbolize a range of meanings, from the duality of good and evil, the inevitability of death, lost love, or a romantic betrayal. A dagger is the world’s oldest personal weapon. It both protects and provides and creates a level of intimacy you don’t find with other weapons such as the gun or bow. It’s both a tremendously vital old-school tattoo symbol, yet also one that connects with contemporary mainstream tattoo collectors looking for an image-laden with deep symbolic meaning. The following story details some of the important nuances that a dagger tattoo may possess and can help you and your tattoo artist determine the correct piece for you.

Classical Dagger Symbolism in Tattoo Art

Dagger tattoo art is often used to symbolize fighting, danger, fear, and ferocity because the real thing is used in close hand-to-hand combat. There’s no distance you can put between yourself and what’s coming up against your blade, which also makes for an arresting tattoo design concept, especially when paired with other meaningful concepts.

American Traditional Dagger Tattoo Art

Masculine Snake Dagger Tattoos For Men

Daggers have been a popular design – particularly for those with a military background – since the late 19th century. They make for some of the most provocative American traditional style pieces,

This type of artwork generally depicts a dagger that has a gleaming blade and a beautifully ornate handle.

Dagger tattoos are often split in the middle to depict stabbing, and a dagger typically appears to be stabbed through the head of a creature, a flower, a heart, or even the subject’s skin.

The many combinations make a dagger tattoo extremely versatile as a classical old-school application style.

See You On The Other Side Memorial Traditional Dagger Mens Rib Cage Side Tattoos

Stabbing Dagger Tattoo Meaning

Dagger Wolf Head Traditional Outer Forearm Tattoo Designs For Guys

What’s more badass than a fierce animal boldly tattooed on the chest? A fierce animal with a dagger through its head.

A dagger stabbed through an animal head is generally a tattoo associated with overcoming a challenge, with the type of beast used associated with the challenge of impediment that you faced.

Perhaps you put your safety and wellbeing on the line every day and aren’t afraid to risk security for the sake of unknown valor.

From panthers to wolves, snakes to gorillas, the dramatic effect that is created with these gruesome designs is undeniable. Whether in color or black and gray, these fierce and unique designs are sure to turn heads wherever they go for years to come.

Manly Guys Traditional Dagger Through Jaguar Head Mens Foot Tattoo

Snake and Dagger Tattoo Symbolism

Good Snake Dagger Tattoo Designs For Men

The snake and dagger tattoo symbol carries multiple meanings, and its tattoo likeness will no doubt elicit equal parts fear and awe from those who glimpse upon it.

The blade and snake tattoo are deployed together by the tattoo enthusiast to expand on the concept of balance between good and evil, or right and wrong.

The snake tattoo has long gotten a bad rep, but in fact, often emulates sacred spiritual insights relating to the serpent. No man is entirely good or bad, and sometimes a snake is needed in the garden to shake things up from time to time.

Just as the snake is the earthly embodiment of the eternal and mystical masculine, the dagger represents the dangers that may lie ahead, and the courage needed to overcome the many faces of adversity.

When all is said and done, the serpent and dagger tattoo is more than just a symbol of good vs. evil, but the necessary balance one must maintain between the two.

Snake Dagger Tattoos For Men

Dagger and Skull Tattoo Designs

Old School Dagger Skull And Snake Mens Traditional Forearm Tattoos

Many people choose to incorporate another badass element into their dagger designs: a skull tattoo.

Long a favorite in American old-school tattoos, skulls are powerful symbols of our mortality and limited time on earth, and they’re perfect additions to these designs.

The significance that’s created by piercing a skull with a dagger is also interesting – some might suggest that this represents the way the wearer embraces mortality by living every day as if it was their last.

Traditional Dagger Through Skull Mens Arm Tattoo Design Ideas

Dagger and Rose Tattoo Meanings

forearm rose and dagger tattoos atxgamer2001

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Rose and dagger tattoos are particularly popular in American traditional tattoo designs, where the blade’s placement can affect the meaning, as do the colors used to represent the rose.

The dagger and rose tattoo design represents duality: the rose for love, positivity, passion, and trust, and the dagger for betrayal, cunning, and deception.

leg rose and dagger tattoos vancitybash

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Dagger and Swallow Tattoo Art

The dagger and swallow tattoo design represents good luck, wealth, and a safe passage home. The combination of nautical-themed imagery with weaponry makes for a rather pirate-y tattoo meant to represent the duality of danger and prosperity.

The dagger holds a special place of fascination for most of us. In traditional tattoo art, it’s a symbol of stealth, danger, and protection all in one.

On its own, the dagger is a fighting weapon but can mean different things. Easily concealed and carried but very hard to use without intestinal fortitude. You either have to be brave enough to go face to face or bold enough to get up close and personal with your enemy and deal the bloody damage with your own hand.

It’s the power of the dagger as a symbol that makes it such a good choice when paired with positive swallow tattoo meanings, or designs such as a spirit animal, heart, and roses.

 Heart Dagger Tattoo Art

Traditional Bleeding Heart Tattoo tombrown_tattoo

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Many people choose a bloody dagger piercing a heart like a tattoo design symbolizing broken hearts and lost love.

A bloody dagger heart tattoo is often aligned with the pain of loss and grief and can be found in most flash art books at your tattoo studio.

A heart dagger design is most often for lost romantic relationships, but it can also be applied to the loss of loved ones, friends, and pets.

The dagger, knife, and sword combined with a bleeding heart tattoo design also possesses elements of other heart ideas, such as the sacred heart, black heart, or broken heart tattoo, but without being the focus of the tattoo.

The contrast that is created by combining these two disparate elements is also interesting and adds intellectual depth to these depictions, whether inked on a large scale or as just a small tattoo.

Small Bleeding Heart Tattoo lvdk.tattoos

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Simple Dagger Tattoo Meaning

Small Dagger Tattoo Guys Fingers

A simple dagger tattoo that is done without any other accompanying symbols can show sacrifice, bravery, and loyalty.

A dagger tattoo can often signify bravery or survivalism, but a different meaning suggests deception, betrayal, and treachery.

The dagger is also a popular tattoo when combined with other symbols, so its meaning can often vary into subtle variations, particularly in old-school body art depictions.

A serpent wrapped around a dagger once signified the presence of Mercury, god of travel and communication, as well as the protector of thieves and tricksters, while it’s also linked to health and medicine in Greek mythology.

Guys Forearms Red Grey Dagger Tattoo

Contemporary Dagger Tattoo Styles and Applications

realistic rose and dagger tattoos bendeadtattoos

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Daggers are traditionally long and thin. They work best as designs incorporated into the lower limbs, such as the shin and outer calf, or the inner and outer forearm.

Contemporary tattoo gives the design a chance to expand into areas such as the neck, the center of the back, or even small designs on fingers or feet.

You’ll also find that different collectors pursue a range of different application styles to bring their body art to life, which also includes different dagger types and colorwork.

Dagger Bleeding Heart Tattoo codeofconducttattoo

Source: @codeofconducttattoo via Instagram Source: Instagram

Different Types of Tattoo Daggers

Mens Forearms Feather Dagger Tattoo

From the tale of Cain and Abel, down through the ages, the dagger (and sword for some) has represented a close personal threat and danger, which has often been drawn into popular tattoo culture.

These days the simple handled dagger used in traditional colors – black, blue, yellow, red, and green – has been updated to reflect all manner of different styles, sizes, and types of blade or hilt.

Personalized dagger ideas you could use include:

    • Traditional dagger
    • Curved scimitar
  • Utility knife
  • Poniard
  • Curved blade
  • Filigreed dagger
  • Chef’s Knife tattoo art

Dagger With Spiral Handle Tattoo For Men On Bicep

Black Ink Dagger Tattoo Art

traditional rose and dagger tattoos emiliowgrafitero

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One of the best things about tattoos is the opportunity for self-expression and individuation that they provide.

Some people use vibrant colors to fully express themselves, however, for other people, nothing quite encapsulates their tastes and sensibilities like the appeal of black ink tattoo work.

Black, bold American traditional daggers can be extended to secondary imagery, such as a black rose tattoo, broken heart, or even old school sailor concepts or a butterfly run through by a blade.

Two Daggers Guys Traditional Themed Upper Chest Tattoos

Realistic Dagger and Knife Tattoo Applications

Mens Forearms Dagger And Man Tattoo

A realistic dagger or knife tattoo is a striking choice that calls immediate attention to itself and leaves a distinct impression on all who view it.

A realistic dagger tattoo design hooks our visual curiosity with its attention to detail, either as the main imagery in a complex tattoo idea or supporting a secondary image.

It creates a visual loop between the wearer and the viewer, offering the concept of danger or ferocity in relation to the wearer, and/or the tattoo piece itself.

Grey Dagger With Bent Handle Tattoo Male Forearms

Neo-Traditional Dagger Tattoo Meanings

forearm rose and dagger tattoos jc_custom_ink

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Neo-traditional dagger tattoo ideas are just close enough to realism to be recognized as sunflowers. Often, the supporting imagery is more abstract due to context, color, or even placement.

Oftentimes, a neo-traditional dagger or knife tattoo can be especially detailed, while a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes makes it more vivid and interesting.

The combined images and symbolism provide a sense of brilliance and beauty that can only exist in the imagination of the tattoo artist.

Guys Forearms Dagger Through Heart Tattoo


The humble dagger, the oldest and most utilitarian of weapons, is a deep and meaningful concept for any type of design.

Whether you’re an old-school type collector or a new wave ink enthusiast, you can find and apply a range of interesting dagger tattoo meanings to your ideas that will add layers of symbolism to the work.


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