Military 9 Common Marine Tattoos and What They Mean  

Aaron Edwards
24.7k views 9 items

The United States Marine Corps is one of the most elite fighting forces on the planet, and they often literally wear their pride on their skin. Marine Corps tattoos exemplify the qualities that make the organization a respected part of the United States military. From mottos to logos, hundreds of years of history are written in ink, thanks to Marine tattoos.

Marines often have their official motto, Semper Fi, tattooed on their bodies, usually in the back or shoulder area. Many sayings, rank insignia, and traditional symbols can be found on their arms and lower legs. Sometimes, however, you may get a daring soldier who gets a huge tattoo on their side. Only a seasoned warrior could put up with the type of pain caused by going under the needle for a big piece of body art!

The Eagle

The Eagle is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 9 Common Marine Tattoos and What They Mean
Photo:  Randy Robertson/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

An eagle, perched on a globe in front of an anchor, is the insignia of the United States Marine Corps. It's been part of the Marines' uniforms since 1868 and became the official symbol of the Corps in 1955.

The eagle represents the United States, ever vigilant over the world. The anchor represents the Marines' ties to the U.S. Navy. Enlisted men use an all-gold version of the symbol, while the officers' symbol is silver and gold.

The Bulldog

The Bulldog is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 9 Common Marine Tattoos and What They Mean
Photo:  Cpl. Tia Dufour /Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Considered by the Corps to be courageous and the strongest of dogs, the bulldog represents the qualities most desired in the field. Many bulldog tattoos show the dog dressed as a drill sergeant, which is a sign of aggression and authority.

Semper Fi

Semper Fi is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 9 Common Marine Tattoos and What They Mean
Photo:  Randy Robertson/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

"Semper Fidelis" is the official motto of the United States Marine Corps. In Latin, it means "always faithful." It was officially adopted as the motto in 1883, though most Marines tend to shorten the phrase to "Semper Fi."

Rank Insignia

Rank Insignia is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 9 Common Marine Tattoos and What They Mean
Photo:  Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns/Marines.Mil/Public Domain

Many Marines choose to display their rank as a tattoo. In the case of the picture above, the patch with the chevrons represents the rank of sergeant.