Swallow Tattoo Meaning: Discover The Secrets Behind

For some people, having a tattoo is a direct way to express their style and inner thoughts. For others, a tattoo works as a token of blessings and good faith. In the case of a swallow tattoo, it can be both! 

Considered to be among the most common tattoo ideas among both men and women, swallows pride themselves on a variety of hidden messages. If you find yourself intrigued by this particular type of bird, keep reading and see what swallow tattoo meaning represents!

What To Know About Swallow Tattoo Meaning  

Swallows are passerine birds, small in size, and are best known for their migration patterns. They are mostly associated with the UK due to it being one of their two destinations while flying and searching for food annually. 

You can easily come across swallows standing on telegraph wires and flapping continuously in the summer when they are taking a rest for their 6000-mile journey across the sea.

Swallows are visually pleasing birds

So, given the characteristics and habits of swallows, what do the tattoos inspired by them mean?

Safety and protection

Swallows move from one continent to another every year without fail, and most of them always manage to complete the traveling. Therefore, many people ink swallows on their skin, wishing for shelter and care against malicious factors. 

For those whose jobs involve frequent trips, such as flight attendants or sailors, swallow tattoos act as a guardian to lead them home intact. Some even believe that should anything bad happen to sailors mid-way, having swallow tattoos notify the birds to come down and carry the soul of the departed to heaven. 

Strength and experience

The Swallow Tattoo Meanings

As stated before, all swallows are subject to a strenuous crossing over the sea. Hence, sailors who want to show off their skills on the sea would use swallow tattoos as a measurement. 

Legend has it that each swallow is equal to 5000 nautical miles. So, a sailor having one swallow tattooed on their body has traveled at least 5000 nautical miles, while someone having three swallows is already onto their 15000th nautical mile. 

In the past, travelling by boat across such great distances was filled with difficulties and challenges. Since not all sailors could make it successfully, swallow tattoos on sailors were extremely valued and regarded. 

These days, their significance is not as deep as it used to be. But that does not stop sailors from enjoying using swallow tattoos to assert their expertise and dedication.


In Greek myths, anywhere the god of spring and sunlight Helios went, flocks of swallows would hover over. In real life, swallows are first spotted from early March and April. 

Their presence is a sign of a nearly-ending bleak winter when spring is about to take over. A swallow tattoo can convey the same sentiment, as it stands for new beginnings, rebirths, flourishing hopes and faiths.

Loyalty and commitment

A pair of swallows are bound together and do not stray from one another

Swallows only have one mate their entire life. After the pairing, they would stick together to breed and nurture the hatchlings until they become capable. Thus, swallow tattoos are the epitome of family love and affection, as well as fidelity in all kinds of relationships, especially romantic ones.

Other lesser-known meanings

Swallow tattoos reflect freedom and the desire to soar high into the sky unrestrained, as illustrated by the birds themselves. 

Furthermore, they describe victory and triumph over obstacles and hardships, similar to how swallows drift from one place to another. 

Substitutes For Swallow Tattoos

If you have already had a swallow tattoo and would like to have something slightly different, you might want to consider the options below.


Dove tattoos signify peace, serenity, and lack of conflict. As doves mate for life, they can also be used to emphasize the importance of family, spouses, and devotion to each other.


Hummingbird tattoos are best for people who have gone through extreme adversity in life and are on their way to recovery. 

Moreover, hummingbirds move around constantly, which makes them perfect to represent the desire to travel, diligence, and continuous effort.


Phoenix bursts into flames and rises again from their own ashes. Therefore, a phoenix tattoo refers to the ability to emerge from defiance and challenges, as well as second chances and resurrection.


Eagles are a spiritual animal in many cultures, which might be traced back to their physical strength and courage when hunting. A person wearing an eagle tattoo is a testament to their virility, endurance, and masculine energy.


While a howling owl is believed to alarm people of upcoming death, an owl standing alone is symbolic of wisdom. If you want to express a desire to learn or a thirst for knowledge, an owl tattoo is a way to go!


Peacock tattoos have different connotations depending on your religious and cultural background. A Christian wearing a peacock tattoo is likely to focus on rebirth, while a Buddhist person sees it as a path of enlightenment and awakening. But in most countries, the colorful shades of a peacock’s tail are translated into luxury, royalty, wealth and opulence. 


Are you looking for an emblem of happiness, positivity, fortune, and connections? If yes, then a jaybird tattoo will suffice. Jays communicate with each other excessively and are highly social, which explains why they have such a light-hearted meaning.


For people from Japan and China, a crane tattoo symbolizes affluence and blessings from the higher spirits. It also embraces grace, wisdom, and harmony.

17 Beautiful Swallow Tattoo Designs

1. Swallow Tattoo On Arm


2. Swallow Tattoo On Neck


3. Swallow Tattoo On Thigh

Swallow Tattoo On Thigh

4. Swallow Tattoo On Side


Swallow Tattoo On Side

5. Swallow Tattoo Behind The Ear


6. Wrist Swallow Tattoo

Wrist Swallow Tattoo

7. Chest Swallow Tattoo

Chest Swallow Tattoo

8. Bicep Swallow Tattoo

Bicep Swallow Tattoo
Bicep Swallow Tattoo

9. Forearm Swallow Tattoo

Forearm Swallow Tattoo

10. Abstract Swallow

Abstract Swallow

11. Swallow & Anchor Tattoo


Swallow & Anchor Tattoo

12 . Mother Swallow Tattoo

Mother Swallow Tattoo

13.  Black Swallow Tattoo

Black Swallow Tattoo

14.  American Traditional Swallow Tattoos

Ocean Landscape Swallow Male Traditional Arm Tattoos


15. Swallow and Dagger Tattoos 




16. Twin Swallow Tattoos




17. Hand Swallow Tattoos




1. Where should I get a swallow tattoo?

Inking a swallow on your bicep is a popular option, especially among sailors. This body part is filled with lean muscles and is thick-skinned, which helps lower the pain. 

Furthermore, the visibility of the bicep allows you to show off your unique design if needed.

2. What goes with a swallow tattoo?

A swallow tattoo can be combined with many details to slightly alter the meaning or emphasize specifically on one aspect. For example, adding a compass with a swallow means you are looking for directions and guidance. 

But if you use a pink heart alongside with your pink swallow, the overall tattoo can be a sign of breast cancer survivors. Or, if you want to draw attention to the romantic undertone of swallows, feel free to put on a rose. 

3. Why should I get a swallow tattoo if I’m not a sailor?

Swallow tattoos are a relatively easy blueprint to get done perfectly while delivering many messages at once. You can channel your energy into one among various interpretations to fit the agenda, and they do not necessarily have anything to do with being sailors. 

Do you wish to mark a departure of one pivotal moment in life? Or are you interested in honoring your own transformation? Or are tattoos used to manifest love and delight? Whatever you intend on, a swallow tattoo can fulfill them all.

4. Are swallow tattoos cliche? 

Admittedly, swallow tattoos are not the most original design. They have been around for centuries and can easily be seen among men and women alike. 

But it does not diminish the appeal of such a simple yet meaningful concept. If you think a swallow tattoo’s implications live up to your preferences, go for it! In case you wish to make it more personal and unique, consider inking your names, initials, an object of special endearment, etc., under or around the swallows. 

Not only can you get a more nuanced tattoo compared to a bland design, but you also get a chance to express yourself delicately. 

5. How can I prepare my skin before having a swallow tattoo?

If you want the inking process to go smoothly, make sure to follow these tips. And remember, they do not apply to a swallow tattoo only but to all designs of tattoos that you wish to have in the future.

  • Shave the body hair: Having hair on the soon-to-be-tattooed skin makes it harder for tattoo artists to draw intricate lines. 

Furthermore, the hair might get stuck when the tattoo needle moves on your skin, causing unnecessary pain. 

  • Exfoliate: Exfoliating the skin means removing dead cells on the top layer of the body. This way, the ink can infiltrate the deeper tissues easily, and it is also less likely to fade.
  • Moisturize: A moisturizer softens the skin and makes it more pliable. If your skin is too dry, tattooing will end up excruciating and more difficult.


Now that you have learned about swallow tattoo meaning, it is time to pick a design that goes with your aesthetics. Remember to ask for professional advice from tattoo artists to make sure everything goes right!

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