Archive for the ‘Words On the Street’ Category


Words On the Street: Tattoos

October 6, 2008

Truth be told, much of the meaning we convey to others is extracted from nonverbals rather than words. It’s generally accepted that words are secondary to just about everything else as a communication medium. And, even as a word-a-holic, I’ll be the first to admit that a wink or a smile can condense into a single gesture meaning that would ordinarily take paragraphs or maybe even an entire essay to convey. This is especially true of establishing and publicizing our identity; it can be tough to try and squish our entire consciousness and self-image into the one-dimensional format of words. That’s why so many people turn to graphic symbolization to convey identity. Tattoos are one of the many popular ways to advertise your philosophy, your personality, and even your whole identity on the surface, without so much as a single spoken word.

That doesn’t mean that words don’t have their place in the world of body art, however. Quite the contrary. Many people drawn to tattoos also find that the most important things to them can, in fact, be summarized in a single word or a quotation. That’s when we get word tattoos.

Loyalty tattoo.  From

Loyalty tattoo. From

For your pleasure, I’ve provided a few links related to word tattoos. Please enjoy these galleries, and make sure to post a picture of your own word tattoos in the comments of this entry or, if you don’t have a picture handy, or if the picture is NSFW, just describe the tattoo and tell us what it means to you and how central it is to expressing your identity.

Here are the links:

Word Tattoo Designs. Make sure to check out their other categories if you’re a tattoo fan, as well.

Check Out My Ink: Tag “Word”. There are quite a few tattoos tagged with “word” but not all of them feature words…so it takes some sifting. Still really incredible.

Blog mentions:
Darren Barefoot, Textual Tattoos

In the news
Tattoo Story. An author writes a story and then invites others to tattoo a single word from the story on their body. Fascinating stuff!