Tattoo ideas

50 Small Tattoos With Big Meanings

You’ve probably heard the saying, “The smallest things can make the biggest impact.” It means that the tiniest gestures can make the largest differences. It’s usually applied to global problems or big life problems, but works just as perfectly with tattoos.

Getting a tattoo can seem like a huge commitment. A tattoo is like a permanent reminder of something — whether it’s something lost, something gained, a special friendship, or just a little something to remind you to be good to yourself and bring a little joy into your life everyday.

So if you’re going to take on this commitment, it’s important to get the design you really want. Something that speaks to you.

Keep in mind, bigger doesn’t always mean better in this case. Small tattoos can have just as much significance and meaning as their larger counterparts — sometimes even more.

Small tattoos with meaning are really quite beautiful. They’re subtle, yet powerful. These miniature designs can carry deep messages. One little symbol can stand for big things like strength, freedom, honor, family, joy, love, and so on.

Big tattoos aren’t for everyone. Sometimes we want a little something that means a whole lot. A small tattoo could be exactly what you’re looking for.

Get inspired with some of these lovely small tattoo ideas. They show that the best things definitely do come in the smallest packages.

50 Best Small Tattoos With Big Meanings

1. Element of air tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning air elementPhoto: Marketa Kuchynkova / Shutterstock

A triangle with a line through the top symbolizes “air,” the element of intelligence, creativity, and beginnings.

RELATED: What Your Tattoo Placement Says About Your Personality

2. Crescent moon tattoo

Photo: Deanna Wardin / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

You’re done with the negative energy in your life and want to keep only positive vibes. Like this crescent moon tattoo, you’re ready to grow and rid yourself of anything harmful in your life.

3. Paper crane tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning paper cranePhoto: Remo_Designer / Shutterstock

You’re laid back and perfectly content with letting the wind glide you along wherever your journey takes you next. This beautiful paper crane symbolizes peace and will match your carefree personality.

4. Seashell tattoo

Photo: Deanna Wardin / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Your love and appreciation for nature runs deep. This seashell tattoo is a reminder of your passion for the protection of all life.

5. Bird tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning birdPhoto: Pablo Rogat / Shutterstock

Nothing will bring a little joy into your life quicker than the pleasing sound of a chirping bird. This bird tattoo is a signal that you’re looking forward to the new opportunities and joys that lie ahead.

6. Quill and ink tattoo

A post shared by (@jingstattoo)

You eat, sleep, and breathe writing. This tattoo is a sweet little reminder of your most favorite passion.

7. Elephants tattoo

Photo: Mace Ojala / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

The leader of a group of elephants is always an older female who fiercely protects and guides the young. This tattoo reminds you of the powerful, loyal woman with deep family values that you are.

8. Sun tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning sunPhoto: avry / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Life cannot exist without the sun. This tattoo is a little daily remembrance of how important you are and the difference you can make.

9. Deer with antlers tattoo

Photo: Graphic / Shutterstock

Your experiences have only made you stronger. Evoke the essence of your inner and outer strength with this deer with antlers tattoo.

10. Arrows tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning arrowsPhoto: Natali Brillianata / Shutterstock

No matter what happens, you can never be broken. Your spirit is indestructible just like this bundle of arrows.

11. Flock of birds tattoo

Photo: Micael Faccio / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Nothing encourages the celebration of freedom more than a flock of birds. This tattoo will remind you that nothing can hold you down.

12. Diamond tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning diamondPhoto: Jonas Strandell / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

You’ve been through a lot in your life. This diamond tattoo will remind you that your spirit is unbreakable.

13. Two triangles tattoo

A post shared by Verifly (@verifly_studio)

The triangle can represent many things. Pointing up it symbolizes femininity, and pointing down, masculinity.

14. Two arrows tattoo

Photo: Val_Zar / Shutterstock

You always look for ways to have a brighter future. Keep looking forward with these tiny arrows to point you in the right direction.

15. Palm tree tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning palm treePhoto: Alan Poulson Photography / Shutterstock

The palm tree is a symbol of androgyny and balance, possessing an equal mix of male and female characteristics.

16. Heart tattoo

Photo: kill / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Love is the most important thing in your life. You live for the love of your family, friends, and passions. A tiny heart will remind you how big your heart is.

17. Compass tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning compassPhoto: Popartic / Shutterstock

When you’re lost in life, look to a compass to show you the way. The compass is a symbol of motivation and inspiration, and can guide you.

18. Infinity symbol tattoo

Photo: Brittney Buckley / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This popular tattoo has a very important meaning: endless possibilities and opportunities. You can even get a matching one with your partner to symbolize your eternal love.

19. Butterfly tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning butterflyPhoto: art dejavu / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

When you need a change, a butterfly tattoo means just that. It’s also considered a symbol of good luck.

20. Rose tattoo

Photo: Shannon Archuleta / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

A rose is a symbol of your love for someone, but getting this tattoo can also serve as a reminder of your own passion.

RELATED: 50 Of The Most Meaningful One Word Tattoos To Ink On Your Body

21. Runic symbols tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning runesPhoto: nuchao / Shutterstock

Before getting a runic tattoo, be sure you understand the unique meaning of each symbol — they are incredibly powerful!

22. Bicycle tattoo

Photo: Kanthikachaaim / Shutterstock

Whether you love riding a bike or just need a reminder of hope, a bicycle tattoo that you can visibly see will keep you on track.

23. Treble clef tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning treble clefPhoto: LightField Studios / Shutterstock

Music lovers can get a treble clef tattoo to signify their deep adoration of music that may have changed their lives!

24. Rainbow heart tattoo

Photo: Sagitov Timur / Shutterstock

A great way to celebrate Pride all year long, a rainbow is about equality, peace, and luck.

25. Star tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning starPhoto: Jeff / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

There are dozens of variations for star tattoos, but with a star representing success and drive, it will serve as a reminder that you’re well on your way to the top.

26. Speaker volume tattoo

Photo: mar15.info / Shutterstock

Turn the volume up with a speaker tattoo, showing everyone that you aren’t afraid to get loud to defend what you believe.

27. Yin and yang tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning yin and yangPhoto: mar15.info / Shutterstock

Yin and yang represent the duality of good and evil; one cannot exist without the other. Much like your own personality, and the way of life, in general.

28. Anchor tattoo

Photo: Alex Bellink / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

An anchor is a reminder not only of your strength, but the stability you constantly strive to keep.

29. Cross tattoo

Photo: Denis Bayrak / Shutterstock

A cross is a symbol of Christianity, and getting a cross tattoo is a gesture of your own faith.

30. Lightning bolt tattoo

Photo: The Valentine / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Whether it’s because you love “Harry Potter” or have an electric personality, a lightning bolt is just what you need.

31. UFO tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning ufoPhoto: Angelo Cordeschi / Shutterstock

The truth is out there. And having a UFO tattoo will keep you on your toes in uncovering the secrets the government don’t want you to know.

32. Sunflower tattoo

Photo: vicki watkins / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A sunflower is more than just a beautiful flower; it’s also a symbol of loyalty. Bring a little happiness and sunshine into your life with this tattoo.

33. Dog tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning dogPhoto: Alemon cz / Shutterstock

Dogs are a human’s best friend, loyal until the very end. Getting some linework with a simple tattoo shows just how much you adore your furry friend.

34. Crown tattoo

Photo: Lisa Schulz / Shutterstock

A symbol of royalty, a crown tattoo is just a small reminder that you, too, are elegant and regal.

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RELATED: 20 Unique Tattoo Ideas To Get You Ready For Some New Ink

35. Moon phases tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning moon phasesPhoto: 19 STUDIO / Shutterstock

The moon affects the gravitational pull, causing ocean tides to change. But a tattoo of all the phases of the moon speaks to the importance of intuition and illusion.

36. Bumble bee tattoo

Photo: Tom Ruki / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Bumble bees are an essential part of the ecosystem. Whether it’s because you want to save the bees or appreciate a bee’s symbolism, this tiny tattoo packs a punch.

37. XO tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning xoPhoto: Lina Novotna / Shutterstock

X and O, also known as hugs and kisses, can be shared with a loved one. Or, show yourself some love with an X and an O on different wrists.

38. Om symbol tattoo

Photo: Monja / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

“Om” is a sacred sound, and it’s not just used in yoga. It actually dates back to ancient Hinduism, and if you practice, it’s a great symbol of your dedication.

39. Sailboat tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning sailboatPhoto: Popartic / Shutterstock

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Those with wanderlust never stop moving — by plane, train, or even sailboat. Remind yourself that the world is yours to explore.

40. Dandelion tattoo

A post shared by Benza Tattoo (@benza_tattoo)

As a kid, you probably remember blowing a dandelion and watching its seeds spread. Now, a tattoo of a dandelion can serve as a symbol of hope and optimism.

41. EKG waves tattoo

Photo: Africa Studio / Shutterstock

An EKG monitor shows your heartbreat. And just like this tattoo, it’s a reminder of your mission to live a full life.

42. Cactus tattoo

A post shared by Addison Armilda Farrier (@call.me_d.addie)

A cactus isn’t just a prickly plant you find in the desert; in Native American cultures, a cactus represents protection and motherly love.

43. Plane tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning planesPhoto: Olena Andreychuk / Shutterstock

Another way to travel, an airplane is also closer to heaven than a car or train. A plane tattoo can also be the boost you need to get moving.

44. Ocean waves tattoo

Photo: LivDeco / Shutterstock

The element of water represents imagination and the overall value of life. And just like your life has its ups and downs, the tide changes, too.

45. Flying bird tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning flying birdPhoto: Andriana Syvanych / Shutterstock

Whether you want to get away or see yourself as a lone bird, spread your wings and fly to wherever your dreams take you.

46. QR code tattoo

Photo: diy13 / Shutterstock

Getting a QR code tattooed on you may seem a bit strange, but also means you’re unique and can reveal a secret message if scanned from your skin.

47. Lotus flower tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning lotus flowerPhoto: R.O.M / Shutterstock

A symbol of rebirth and purity, a lotus flower continues to bloom, even when experiencing some of the not-so-great parts of life.

48. Angel wings tattoo

Photo: Designer things / Shutterstock

Whether it’s to honor a lost loved one or to symbolize your faith, angels are said to watch over us. In fact, some say that everyone has a guardian angel to deliver them much-needed messages of hope.

49. Dragonfly tattoo

small tattoos with big meaning dragonflyPhoto: Wendy / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Dragonflies represent change and transformation. A dragonfly tattoo means you’re ready for whatever chapter lies ahead.

50. Zodiac symbol tattoo

Photo: ds4832 / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Whether it’s your zodiac symbol, glyph or animal, your zodiac sign is a representation of your personality traits.

RELATED: 15 Best Hidden Tattoo Placement Ideas For People Who Don’t Want Visible Ink

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Sloane Solomon is a professional writer and editor. She graduated from the University of Colorado with a Bachelors in English Writing. When she’s not writing or editing, you can find her daydreaming in French about coffee, online shopping, travel, and baby animals.

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