The real meaning of an arrow tattoo

While an arrow tattoo could symbolize your love for Oliver Queen's superhero alter ego, in most cases, this type of tattoo is associated with the Native American culture's use of the tool in hunting and warfare. An arrow tattoo can be a very simple design or a more elaborate one incorporating multiple elements, but either way, it is a very powerful symbol.

Symbolic of just what, though? Most of the symbolism lies in how the arrow is positioned or situated. Different arrow shapes and designs tell a number of different stories, such as difficulties you've endured or overcome, or challenges still in progress at the time of tattooing. Still other arrow designs having more uplifting connotations.

Arrow tattoos that indicate challenges or struggles

Some of the different ways in which arrows can be depicted in tattoos show that the bearer is in the midst of, or perhaps wishing to ward off, some type of adverse situation (via Custom Tattoo Design). A tattoo of an arrow being pulled back on a bow symbolizes struggle or tension. An arrow that is pointing left may be meant as an invocation of protection, as it shows a desire to chase something negative away from the bearer. A single arrow tattoo can also indicate protection or defense against harm. A tattoo that shows two different arrows, each one pointing in an opposite direction, is representative of conflict or even war. 

Arrow tattoos with positive meanings

While the arrow itself is a weapon, numerous tattoo designs involving arrows reflect a less warlike aspect. An arrow in flight, released from a bow, represents new direction, as does an arrow piercing one of the four points of a compass. An arrow pointing down can be a sign of peace, as can a broken arrow — this latter depicting a meaning similar to "burying the hatchet." 

A bundle of arrows stands for strength and unity, while an arrow with a diamond shape symbolizes toughness and courage — "hard as a diamond." A design with two crossed arrows indicates friendship, while a heart pierced by an arrow is meant as a sign of love (with the arrow, in this case, being that of Cupid). While this favorite military tattoo may have been around a long time, it's still considered a classic, so it's not a design you need be embarrassed to request of your tattoo artist (via Bustle).

Do any of these arrow tattoo designs speak to you? If so, just make sure you like what you're hearing, since if you change your mind (perhaps that name tattooed beneath the arrow-pierced heart wasn't your forever love after all?), it's going to be a costly, painful mistake to fix.