The Insane And Frightening Meanings Of Prison Tattoos

To some people, the tattoos they behold have no meaning whatsoever. However, for others, they can by very symbolic. Today we’re going to focus on the meanings of prison tattoos. It’s really interesting to learn about and be able to understand what the differing tattoos among the prison culture represent. This list is also extremely helpful for being able to asses people who could be potentially dangerous. Take a look and see how many you already knew about! 

Barbed Wire

Barbed wire tattoos are fairly common and many of the ones you’ll see with have no specific meaning. However, for some people, each barb represents a year served in prison. 


This one will probably make you laugh a little. ‘EWMN’ stands for ‘evil, wicked, mean, nasty’. So, if you see someone brandishing this tattoo, you might want to be careful! 

Dagger Through The Neck

This tattoo is a predominately Russian symbol. It makes others aware of the fact that they are willing to take a life. Sometimes it also means they are available for hire.  

White Supremacist Skin Head

As you may have guessed, this guy is a white supremacist. The #14 is often used in replacement of a rally slogan that is too long to be tattooed. The slogan is ‘we must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children’. Next, there’s the swastika symbol which is a Nazi emblem. There is also the word ‘Hatebreed’ which is a band whose albums are titled ‘The Rise Of Brutality’ and ‘Supremacy’. 

Five Dots

This one is pretty simple. The formation you see below indicates that the person with it has served prison time. 

Outlined Tear Drop

It’s easy to get confused between normal tear drop tattoos and outlined tear drop tattoos. An incomplete drop implies that a job isn’t complete yet. It generally symbolizes that a murder is coming. If successful the tear drop will be filled in. 

Rose With Thorns

Once again this is a tattoo that many people will bear that has no meaning. However, in the prison world, a rose with thorns is commonly associated with Russian and Asian gang members. It symbolizes the wearer spending their 18th anniversary in prison. 


Typically, many people correctly associate shamrock with Ireland. Unfortunately, many white supremacists have opted to use shamrock as a symbol of membership in a gang. 

Spider Web

Similarly to the five dots tattoo, a spider web indicates prison time served. The longer and larger the web, the more time spent jailed. 

Three Dots

This tattoo signifies that the wearer has a gang affiliation, probably of Latin American descent. It represents ‘Mi Vida Loca’. 

Watch With No Hands

A watch with no hands tends to indicate a life sentence. Or, at the very least an extremely long one. It signifies time standing still. 


If you spot someone with the letters ‘ACAB’, it’s fairly safe to assume they aren’t a fan of the police. The combination of letters stems from the British penal system and stands for ‘all cops are b*stards’.