Rose | Atka Tattoo


Tattoo by Dr.Ink, Atka Tattoo, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Rose tattoo meaning

Very broadly, roses in tattoos usually mean love, honor, beauty, balance, intrigue, or timelessness. Often, they are used purely as decorative elements – after all, not every tattoo needs to have a deeper meaning. Sometimes, however, they are an intentionally symbolic element of a design.


Nowadays, roses are mostly symbolic of the expression of romantic love – and this association is anything but new. Already in Greek mythology, the rose was the flower of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. She was often depicted with rose thorns around her head.

According to myth, after Aphrodite’s lover, Adonis, was killed, a rose bush grew out of the pool of his blood. This legend helps to solidify the connection between red roses and the notion of eternal love – joining the lovers until death and beyond.

Getting a rose tattoo – particularly one of a single red rose – is a popular way of expressing romantic love. If you want to honor your relationship and express your undying love for your significant other, this is one of the best ways to do so. Consider adding the name of your partner to the design to make it even more personal.

A rose tattoo meant to commemorate romantic love has another level of meaning – the idea of your love being eternal is underlined by the permanent nature of the tattoo itself.


Thanks to a couple of Roman customs, roses are sometimes symbolic of secrets, loyalty, and tacit understanding. Ancient Romans used to hang roses above meeting tables to indicate that anything said at the table will not be repeated and will remain a secret.

Similarly, roses were placed on doors to convey the message that a private conversation was going on inside the room – one that should not be overheard or interrupted.

The phrase sub rosa, still used today, derives from these customs – it literally translates to ‘under the rose’, and means sharing and keeping a secret.

A rose tattoo, then, can be symbolic of trustworthiness, honor, and loyalty – a suggestion that you keep your word and remain faithful to the promises you make and secrets you keep.


The rose’s association with balance is mostly grounded in Tarot cards and the occult. Some people believe that with the aid of Tarot cards, divination is possible – that is to say, predicting the future and/or gaining a better, deeper understanding of the present.

The idea of balance derives from the structure of the rose flower. The petals are symbolic of hope and new beginnings, which is in contrast with the defense and loss associated with the thorns.

In traditional Tarot design, the rose appears in the Magician, Death, Fool, and Strength cards – which are all associated with the meanings of balance and equilibrium.

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