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Dolphin Tattoos: Meanings and Design Ideas with Photos


Dolphins are very friendly and peaceful animals. The image of a dolphin carries only positive connotations and is associated with kindness, intelligence, openness, grace, and a carefree attitude. What meanings are commonly attached to this imagery? What are the peculiarities of every tattooing style? Scroll on to find out.

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Dolphin Symbolism in Different Parts of the World

Dolphin images were quite common in ancient times. In Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Egypt, and North America, this animal was greatly respected, although in different ways.

Ancient Greece and Rome

Greeks believed that dolphins embodied true love and erotic pleasure. Dolphins were also linked with the other world. In Greek mythology, dolphins accompanied the souls of the dead to the other world.

In Greece, the dolphins were called ‘kings of the seas’ and were believed to be messengers of Poseidon. According to myths, the god of wine Dionysus turned drunk sailors into these creatures, which is why sometimes a dolphin tattoo may hint that the wearer’s profession has something to do with sailing.


For Egyptians, dolphins represented femininity, maternity, healing abilities, and salvation, as they were often reported saving drowning people and helping ships find the right way.

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In Ancient Egypt, this animal was linked with the goddess of the Moon and was closely associated with magic. In addition, the dolphin was a symbol of good weather.

North America

Native Americans attached their own meanings to dolphins, linking them with positive energy, kindness, compassion, and supportive nature. Dolphin tattoos emphasized wisdom and peacemaking skills.

An interesting fact. A tattoo depicting a dolphin guiding a ship may denote that its wearer is a religious person. In Christianity, the dolphin is a symbol of Jesus guiding people.

Modern Interpretations of Dolphin Tattoos

Nowadays, this imagery is often treated as a powerful talisman that brings luck and gives protection from evil.

Let’s look at some common meanings.

  • Oftentimes, an inking of a dolphin speaks of a person’s fun character, love of life, and that they value their personal freedom without falling into egoism.
  • A small dolphin tattoo may symbolize a person’s close connection with the water element. If the animal sports a sailor’s jacket, its wearer possibly has something to do with the fleet.
  • A dolphin jumping out of water or among waves is meant to speak of wisdom and openness, as well as friendliness in any situation.
  • A design featuring two dolphins is often treated as a symbol of the unity of feminine and masculine energy or internal harmony.

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Dolphin Tattoos for Women

A dolphin tattoo on a woman can often represent one of the following things:

  • freedom of thought and harmony with the world around
  • a playful character and desire to make life more fun
  • a dolphin rising from the deep speaks of an active lifestyle and the desire to move forward.

Dolphin Tattoos for Men

It’s common to see dolphin tattoos on men whose profession or hobby has something to do with the sea: surfers, swimmers, fishers, sailors, or fans of sea voyages. This is their way of expressing their love for the sea.

If a man has nothing to do with this, his dolphin tattoos may have the following meanings:

  • decisiveness, good and noble nature
  • a sharp mind
  • a free-spirited and sensitive nature, and the love of life.

Dolphin Tattoos in Different Styles

Tattoos depicting dolphins can be performed in different styles and colors, with the focus on the shape, color scheme, or realism of the picture, depending on the impact the wearer wants to make.

Dolphin tattoos are often done in such styles as ethnic, realism, Polynesian, and Celtic. Each style adds different connotations to the general meaning of a design.


Celts studied and venerated dolphins since ancient times. This is why all designs performed in the Celtic style bear positive meanings and are associated with the love of life and joyful emotions.

The meaning of the design is enhanced with the following elements:

  • transition to the next stage in life
  • a dream come true and hope for a happy future.

Trash Polka

Two-colored Trash Polka tattoos look no less attractive and symbolic than designs using a more diverse color scheme. The inking resembles a risograph print thanks to its black background and pops of red color.

The key to success is to choose a sketch that will look good in this style. Crisp lines and shapes make for a stylish and original piece of body art.


The peculiarity of this style is the use of geometric patterns that are weaved together in one image. It is somewhat similar to the Polynesian style. Although such artworks are two-dimensional, they stand out thanks to their uniqueness and bright colors.


A realistic dolphin tattoo looks like a photo. It takes a lot of skill to pull off a realistic tattoo, making both the elements in the front and the background look three-dimensional and realistic.

Realistic tattoos can depict a dolphin among fish, a group of dolphins jumping out of the water, or a couple of them playing with each other. A design featuring an anchor may speak of its wearer’s active lifestyle.

Choosing a Placement

You can get a dolphin tattoo anywhere on the body, just make sure the size and shape of the design look good in the chosen placement.

Here are some tattoo artists’ recommendations.

  • If you want a leg tattoo, go for a smaller design somewhere on the feet, ankle, or calf.
  • A thigh is a perfect placement for a large tattoo with a vivid background.
  • A dolphin tattoo on the shoulder gives room for creativity, allowing a tattoo artist to create a perfect inking, be it small and minimalist or large and detailed.
  • The waist is just the place for big tattoos.
  • The belly is better suited for smaller tattoos, for example, of a dolphin jumping out of water.
  • Ribs are a perfect canvas for a detailed picture with a colorful background.
  • A dolphin tattoo in the bikini zone adds a touch of playfulness to a woman’s look.

No matter the placement, style, color scheme, and additional details, a dolphin tattoo is a powerful image with positive connotations. Choose the design to your liking and make it express whatever is important to you.

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