Teardrop Tattoo

Undoubtedly, a teardrop tattoo involves some sort of criminal activity. The side of the face, the outline of the tear, and the number of teardrops all change the meaning of teardrop tattoos. Artists rarely ink teardrop tattoos. Instead, you normally find people in prison or friends with connections to tattoo them. The negative connotation of a teardrop tattoo usually keeps anyone wise from choosing one for themselves. At the same time, some teardrop tattoos bear an innocuous meaning of solidarity. Asking someone the meaning of their teardrop tattoo proves difficult, so let’s take a step back and go over all the different details behind these designs! If you need information on taking care of a tattoo design, look no further than this Resources page.

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Teardrop Under Left Eye Meaning

What does a teardrop on the left side mean? Originally—for both sides—the teardrop denoted a prisoner that someone else in jail ‘owned.’ Placed next to the eyes by their ‘owners,’ hiding it proved difficult and it told everyone else about the pain, tears, and humiliation they faced. Many of these prisoners dealt with rape, extortion, and physical abuse. The amount of care and protection available to them in jail simply fell short of what they needed. Outside of prison, these men told others that they received it for killing a man in prison.

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Over time, the left side tear drop meaning changed from ‘owned’ to ‘I killed someone in jail.’ The number of tears denotes how many people died. The teardrop on left eye meaning remains a jail tattoo and continues to grow in popularity among gangs. Sometimes, a left-side teardrop tattoo meant they belonged to Blood or People’s Nation.

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Right Side Tear Drop Meaning

After a while, the teardrop under right eye meaning gradually branched off from the original and perceived meaning of teardrop tattoos. These tears represent a lost gang member or family member. Gangs represent a second family to their members, and the death of one of their cohorts means the death of a brother or sister. When you see multiple tears on the side of someone’s face, it more likely means they lost many people dear to them, rather than that they murdered many people.


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In particular, women tattoo this teardrop to show solidarity with their spouse in jail. Of course, husbands can do the same. On the other hand, these tears on the right side could also mean that you belong to the Crips. In the end, tear tattoo meaning changes with time, and quite honestly, the meaning behind them is personal.


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After learning the teardrop tattoo meaning, you understand a little about story behind them and their status as jail tattoos. However, I want to go on a tangent and talk a little bit about finding a tear tattoo. When you see someone with a teardrop tattoo, avoid making assumptions based on their appearance. Every person places a unique meaning on their tattoo, and that includes teardrop tattoos—meaning that a teardrop tattoo doesn’t automatically make someone a criminal or a murderer. Anyways, to learn the true meaning of a teardrop tattoo, ask the person who wears it. People love telling the stories behind their tattoos, and teardrops certainly hide a deep story!

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