The Real Meaning Behind Your Favorite Celebrity Tattoos

Photo: Scott Legato/Getty Images.
It's easy to become infatuated with celebrity tattoos. Whether you have one or not, there's enough Instagram inspiration from famous artists like Dr. Woo and New York's JonBoy to turn anyone into a fan of body art — especially when it's inked on Hollywood's elite.
But unfortunately, sometimes stars like to keep the meaning of their most personal tattoos on the low, providing an evasive, almost nonexistent explanation behind the design. For the most part, people leave the inspo up to speculation. But if you're tired of guessing and want to know the truth, stick with us.
From Rihanna to Lady Gaga to Rihanna to Olivia Wilde, we've rounded up a string of celeb tattoo meanings just waiting to answer your questions — ahead.
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Dua Lipa

The tattoo: "245"

The meaning: To mark a whopping 245 shows with her band on tour, Lipa and bandmate Matthew Carroll got tattoos of the number 245, with Lipa choosing to get hers inked in gothic script on the back of her left arm by London-based tattoo artist Madame Buraka.
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Joe Jonas

The tattoo: Portrait of a woman

The meaning: Fans think that this minimal design by tattoo artist Curt Montgomery is a tribute to Jonas' future wife and actress Sophie Turner. Some even say it's a reference to a pivotal bathtub scene for Turner's character on Game of Thrones, Sansa Stark.
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Photo: Franziska Krug/Getty Images.
Emma Stone

The tattoo: Bird feet

The meaning: Back in 2010, Stone and her family found out her mom was cancer-free. So, the daughter/mother duo went out to get matching tattoos. The meaning goes even deeper, though, starting with Emma's love for the Beatles' song "Blackbird" and ending with a custom-designed drawing by Paul McCartney of two blackbird feet.
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Photo: Ignat/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images.
Jessica Alba

The tattoo: "Lotus" in Sanskrit

The meaning: Alba once told Stephen Colbert that her tiny wrist tattoo symbolized the "manifestation of spiritual beauty," adding that she got the tattoo after she broke up with a famous ex.
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Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Selena Gomez

The tattoo: Arabic script

The meaning: Loosely translated from Arabic to English, the words means, "Love yourself first." The ink went on to become the most famous on Gomez — and even got it's own place on her Coach bag.
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Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage.

The tattoo: Egyptian goddess, Isis

The meaning: One of our all-time favorites, Rihanna's chest tattoo is a tribute to her grandmother. After she passed away in 2012, the singer posted a photo of the ink on Instagram with the caption, "Goddess Isis - Complete Woman - Model for future generations - #GRANGRANDOLLY - always in and on my heart #1love."
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Photo: Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.
Lily Collins

The tattoo: Woman on a lily pad

The meaning: Although Collins' explanation remains vague on the specifics, we know from an Instagram post that this particular addition was in tribute to Collins' trip to Korea in 2016.
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Photo: Terence Patrick/CBS/Getty Images.
Harry Styles

The tattoo: Half-naked mermaid

The meaning: With over 60 tattoos — and counting — it's nearly impossible to keep up with the singer's body ink. But one comes with a particularly sweet meaning: his mermaid. Once, after a fan asked Styles about the mermaid and why it has its particular body type (re: "saggy boobs") Styles cheekily replied that no one should strive for perfection and love exactly who they are.
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A post shared by Doctor Woo (@_dr_woo_) on

Hilary Duff

The tattoo: "Take Fountain"

The meaning: You may not know it, but this is a famous quip from Bette Davis. During an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, the then-host asked Davis about her advice to young actresses: How can they break into the business? She quickly responded, "Take Fountain," referring to Fountain Avenue, a shortcut that leads into the Los Angeles neighborhood.
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Sam Smith

The tattoo: Two parallel lines

The meaning: According to a now-deleted Instagram post from Smith two years ago, the scoop on this tattoo is "inspired by one of the oldest tattoos ever found on a mummified body that was found alone in the ice." The more you know...
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Photo: Scott Legato/Getty Images.
Lady Gaga

The tattoo: A trumpet

Did you know that Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett made an album together? Did you also know that he also calls her Lady? To commemorate their work together and friendship, Bennett designed an instrumental tattoo for Gaga. In 2014, she got the trumpet inked permanently on her right arm.
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The tattoo: "Joanne"

The meaning: Gaga's 2016 album Joanne was inspired by her late aunt with the same name. In honor of the album's launch, Gaga and her father got "Joanne" tattoos — hers on the forearm and his an angel on the shoulder.
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A post shared by Kesha (@iiswhoiis) on


The tattoo: "Live Free"

The meaning: After an emotionally tumultuous year filled with legal battles and a better practice of self-love, Kesha celebrated her freedom with this badass knuckle tattoo.
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A post shared by Doctor Woo (@_dr_woo_) on

Dakota Johnson

The tattoo: Wilted flower

The meaning: No one ever gets a "fucked up" flower tattooed on their body — well, except Johnson. She captioned the photo with an explanation suggesting that imperfections don't diminish your self-worth.
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Billie Lourd

The tattoo: A cluster of celestial bodies

The meaning: As a tribute to her late mother, Carrie Fisher, Lourd inked the outer space image on her ankle in reference to Fisher's own similar tattoo.
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Brooklyn Beckham

The tattoo: "020511"

The meaning: Each number represents the birth years of all his siblings. Romeo James was born in 2002, Cruz in 2005, and Harper Seven in 2011. Luckily, one quick Instagram fan pointed out another potential meaning behind the tat: David Beckham's birthday is May 2, a reverse of "02" and "05" on Brooklyn's arm.
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Sophia Bush

The tattoo: A piece of the Golden Record

The meaning: In honor of putting yet another year to bed, Bush got matching tattoos with her best friends in reference to Carl Sagan's A Pale Blue Dot. Essentially, Bush found the perfect time to permanently ink a life philosophy all about finding home — in the world and in yourself. Deep, right?
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A post shared by SZA (@sza) on


The tattoo: Log with one leaf

The meaning: Fans speculate this is a tribute to her hometown of Maplewood, New Jersey. The Grammy-nominated singer told Complex that growing up in such a small, "quietly affluent" town — that was also predominantly white — made her feel like the one "token Black girl" every day.
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Justin Bieber

The tattoo: Tiny cross

The meaning: Although Bieber is far from the first celebrity to get inked with a religious symbol, we couldn't imagine something more fitting for the spiritual celeb. In fact, the tattoo artist behind the design told Refinery29 that he and Bieber prayed before making it happen because the singer was dealing with "such heaviness."
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The tattoo: Three dots

The meaning: Fans assume the three dots represent her three children: Blue Ivy, Rumi, and Sir.
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Heatwave activities include... ✨🌙✨ For my little o

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Olivia Wilde

The tattoo: A constellation

The meaning: Wilde captioned the picture of her new tattoo on Instagram, "For my little O," insinuating that the tattoo — which features delicate crescent moons, lines, and stars courtesy of L.A. tattoo artist Doctor Woo — was in honor of her son with Jason Sudeikis, Otis.
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Lucy Hale

The tattoo: "I love you"

The meaning: In July, Hale got a matching tattoo with her sister in her grandmother's handwriting. She co-signed a photo of the new ink with this caption, "Nothing says sisterly bonding more than permanently tattooing your body. After years of wanting our grandmothers writing, we did it! Our Grammy was our favorite person & now she’s even more a part of us. Also, my sister is a badass who raises two kids, teaches combat classes, AND goes on tattoo runs with her baby sister ?? Also, ouch. This one hurt."
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Kylie Jenner (& Travis Scott)

The tattoo: A butterfly

The meaning: Not long after giving birth to her first daughter, Jenner got a tiny matching tattoo with boyfriend Scott: a butterfly on their ankles. Some thought the image was a clue to their daughter's name (before it was revealed), while others still guess that it's inspired by Scott's song "Butterfly Effect."
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