What Does a Teardrop Tattoo Mean?

A teardrop tattoo under the eye does not only represent the number of murders you have committed. The teardrop tattoo under the eye originated in the 1940’s among Latino gang members. This tattoo represented murder, hard time (prison), or the loss of a fellow gang member to violence. The tear drop has since evolved into much more. As a symbol of grief and sadness it represents many things to those who have them. Latino gang members are not the only ones getting this type of tattooing on their faces. Many African American gangsters have also picked up the fad. Generally speaking, it can be said that the tear drop represents a tear that could not be shed because of a hardened heart.

Rapper Lil Wayne has a teardrop tattoo under his left eye (4 on his face all tolled). In interviews he has stated that it does not represent a murder that he has committed, it does however, represent death and loss. He has said that it is for the loss of his father and dead homies. Bird Man, rapper and founder of Cash Money record, has three teardrops below his right eye. There has been some controversy as to the meaning behind them. Rapper Fifty cent is having his lasered off. West coast rapper The Game Gucci Mane has one that signifies his gang affiliation. It is not only gang members who get this tattoo. Lars Frederiksen, of the punk band Fancid, has one under his right eye in memory of his brother who died from an aneurysm.

As one trend turns into another, many young teens are putting themselves in harms way. Older gang members expect to be dealing with a certain type of person when they see the tattoo. They have an expectation of a hardened murderer or criminal who has done time. Police will stereotype them as this way and treat them as such. Tattoos, especially those on the face, are still taboo in today’s society.

9 thoughts on “What Does a Teardrop Tattoo Mean?

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  3. The original meaning before it was corrupted by gangs in the 40’s actually began in the 20’s. The tear drop tatt is symbolic of closure on death. I have a tear drop tatt under my left eye because I lost my father by murder.

  4. I lost my son to a sensless murder and I wanted to get a tatoo but i just didnt know what to get I was thinking a teardrop but it woulnt look right to me

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