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30 Butterfly Tattoo Designs With Amazing Meanings (120 Ideas)


Staff member
Feb 16, 2024
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Butterfly tattoos are an excellent choice for those seeking to ink meaningful stories on their skin.

Overall, the butterfly tattoo symbolizes rebirth, self-development, and evolution – just as the butterfly emerges from the caterpillar.

Combined with other visual elements, aesthetics, shapes, and colors, the butterfly tattoo represents the power to overcome life challenges.

In this article, I’ll present a curated selection of 120 butterfly tattoo ideas from 30 different designs and their meanings to help you find the papillon tattoo.

1. Butterfly Tattoos with Text​

Butterfly Tattoos With Meaning

Butterfly Tattoos With Meaning

Seen in many alt-fashion styles such as Indie and Grunge, the butterfly tattoo carries several innate meanings, depending on the color, size, body location, and local culture.

Yet, the overall shared symbolism is one’s ability to overcome a severe life hurdle and positive transformation.

Incorporating names, dates, and lines of text with meanings works wonders with butterfly tattoos, further increasing the symbolism and look.

Some of the best butterfly tattoos with meanings I know comprise loved ones’ names and love quotes, carried as life talismans.

2. Small Butterfly Tattoos​

Small Butterfly Tattoos

Small Butterfly Tattoos

Perfect for a Soft Girl look, a butterfly tattoo doesn’t have to be large to depict and represent its meaning.

Small butterfly tattoos can deliver incredible visual impact, showcasing your unique character.

While you’ll come across many small butterfly tattoo ideas, some of the best bring love, hope, and positive change.

In my experience, the best small butterfly tattoo is designed to replace powerful talismans that remind the wearers of their most outstanding achievements.

3. Hand Butterfly Tattoos​

Hand Butterfly Tattoos

Hand Butterfly Tattoos

The most common papillon tattoo is the butterfly hand tattoo.

Without going for a heavy and maximalist design, the hand placement flatters the shape of the butterfly best.

While hand butterfly tattoos are visible to everyone around you, thankfully, they represent a warm-hearted, friendly, and loving person.

Also, hand butterfly tattoos showcase your open-mindedness, adventurousness, and love of nature.

Above all, a hand butterfly tattoo on a well-manicured hand will enhance your sex appeal.

4. Simple Butterfly​

Simple Butterfly Tattoos

Simple Butterfly Tattoos

Not all butterfly tattoos are complex or colored – simplicity and subtle shading are always beautiful.

Mostly in black and white, simple butterfly tattoos preserve better in the long run.

Moreover, having your winged creature as a minimal tattoo – a moth tattoo style – adds uniqueness to your style.

So if you are worried about colors fading with time, a simple outline butterfly tattoo is the way forward.

Simple butterfly tattoos are a perfect match for minimalistic styles such as Clean Girl.

5. Neck Butterfly Tattoos​

Neck Butterfly Tattoos

Neck Butterfly Tattoos

As the neck and throat are associated with communication and engagements, neck tattoos symbolize being open to new people and experiences.

Equally, neck butterfly tattoos symbolize the wearer’s desire to communicate how they’ve overcome past issues and challenges to become better people.

Right now, one of the most popular butterfly neck tattoos comprises a butterfly image in light shading with wing patterns, a perfect match for Streetwear style.

6. Butterfly with Flower Tattoos​

Butterfly with Flower Tattoos

Butterfly with Flower Tattoos

If you are into feminine looks such as Coquette and Pin-up, flowers are another excellent element that looks great in combination with butterfly tattoos.

From roses to chrysanthemums, flowers further enhance the meanings of butterfly tattoos, adding extra layers of love, passion, and sensuality.

The colors of the flowers also matter, and you can use variations to stand out from the crowd.

7. Semicolon Butterfly Tattoos​

Semicolon Butterfly Tattoos

Semicolon Butterfly Tattoos

The semicolon tattoo (on its own) symbolizes solidarity with those who have dealt with suicide, depression, addiction, and other mental health issues (or overcoming them yourself).

Just as this punctuation mark is a sign for readers to pause before continuing the sentence, people wearing the semicolon butterfly tattoo use it as a reminder that their story isn’t over.

A great tattoo choice for suicide survivors and those who battle emotional trauma every day.

8. Arm Butterfly Tattoos​

Arm Butterfly Tattoos

Arm Butterfly Tattoos

I find single-line artistic arm tattoos a style all of their own. Add to that butterflies, and you’re on a different level.

Symbolizing love and connectivity with other people, arm butterfly tattoos in ethereal colors – like the see-through wings of butterflies – look spectacular.

While the color palette you can put on your arm butterfly tattoo has no limits, choose something that emphasizes its significance.

9. Back Butterfly Tattoos​

Back Butterfly Tattoos

Back Butterfly Tattoos

In most cultures, the back and spine represent the core of one’s life.

A butterfly tattoo on the back celebrates life, representing full power and strength, depending on the other symbol you choose to blend it with.

For example, a full-back butterfly tattoo in a mandala style looks stunning!

You can also insert quotes in your back butterfly tattoo and finish it with delicate flowers – where the words act as the stems.

10. Thigh Butterfly Tattoos​

Thigh Butterfly Tattoos

Thigh Butterfly Tattoos

The most visible parts of the body, like the wrists, neck, shoulders, fingers, and ankles, are highly suitable for tiny butterfly tattoos.

For larger butterfly tattoos, the back, legs, chest, and thighs, in particular, are ideal places.

Given the location, thigh butterfly tattoos carry a profoundly personal or sentimental touch, depicting a story of love and synergy.

You can pair your butterfly thigh tattoo with flowers for a personal effect based on your preferences.

Moreover, thigh butterfly tattoos go well with many edgy fashion styles such as Grunge, Y2K, McBling, and Acubi.

11. Blue Butterfly Tattoos​

Blue Butterfly Tattoos

Blue Butterfly Tattoos

Blue butterfly tattoos remind you to be at peace with yourself and your life.

Blue is a color of calm and joy, while the butterfly suggests birth and rebirth as you cycle through a new phase in your life journey.

Other significant meanings of the blue butterfly tattoo are faithfulness and reliability.

12. 3D Butterfly Tattoos​

3D Butterfly Tattoos

3D Butterfly Tattoos

If we’re being literal, 3D tattoos take tattoo art to another level – or another dimension.

These photorealistic tattoos are one of the more contemporary trends in tattooing, requiring a great deal of creativity, thought, and, most importantly, talent on the tattoo artist’s part.

The best tattoos of this nature will be realistic enough to look like photographs.

3D Blue Butterfly Tattoo On Shoulder

3D Blue Butterfly Tattoo on a Woman’s Shoulder​

Shoulders and clavicles are the most feminine spots to place tiny butterfly tattoos on.

Going too big will look drastic against your overall look, whereas going too small will make your tattoo unnoticeable.

That’s where 3D blue butterfly tattoos come in; ultra-realistic in a perfect blue color, the style will make the insect look like sitting on your shoulder, capturing the liveness of a flying butterfly.

13. Monarch Butterfly Tattoos​

Monarch Butterfly Tattoos

Monarch Butterfly Tattoos

One of the most beautiful sights you can experience is the migration of Monarch butterflies in autumn.

I experienced mine while hiking near the Delaware Water Gap, and the monarch butterflies were orange and black – thousands of them; it was spectacular.

Transforming from an ugly worm to a regal-looking butterfly, the monarch butterfly tattoo symbolizes evolution and significant life change.

14. Red Butterfly Tattoos​

Red Butterfly Tattoos

Red Butterfly Tattoos

Red shades have historically meant feminity; red butterflies have long been associated with love and romance.

In many cultures, fluttering a red butterfly’s wings is believed to signify a lover’s promise.

Red is often seen as a symbol of desire and passion, making it the perfect color for a butterfly that represents love.

15. Skull Butterfly Tattoos​

Skull Butterfly Tattoos

Skull Butterfly Tattoos

Perfect match for Punk and Goth styles, skull tattoos symbolize strength and power, conferring them with protection.

Skull tattoos can also symbolize the death of an old life, a past that has been defeated, and a change for the better has occurred.

Skulls (death) in combination with butterflies (new life) means overcoming a difficult challenge or death; a rebirth has happened, like a symbolic circle of life and death.

16. Wrist Butterfly Tattoos​

Wrist Butterfly Tattoos

Wrist Butterfly Tattoos

Wrist tattoos became popular in the 50s and 60s amongst gay and lesbian communities.

In those decades, the members of those communities adopted wrist tattoos to represent their sexuality.

Nowadays, butterfly tattoos on the wrist hold deep personal significance about one’s sexual views and hurdles they had to overcome.

17. Butterfly Tattoos Behind the Ear​

Butterfly Tattoos Behind the Ear

Butterfly Tattoos Behind the Ear

Behind-the-ear tattoos symbolize “hearing the word of God and letting your faith guide your decisions.”

Butterfly tattoos behind the ear carry a similar deep meaning, as a constant voice reminding you of your strength to keep walking the path of a new and better life.

18. Butterfly Tattoos on Shoulder​

Butterfly Tattoos on Shoulder

Butterfly Tattoos on Shoulder

The combo of butterflies and flowers in vibrant colors is one of the most popular tattoos for women.

Shoulders and clavicles are the most feminine spots to place tiny butterfly tattoos on.

Going too big will look drastic against your overall look, whereas going too small will make your tattoo unnoticeable.

19. Butterfly and Roses Tattoos​

Butterfly and Roses Tattoos

Butterfly and Roses Tattoos

While roses can have different meanings across cultures, they are always seen as a symbol of beauty and romance.

Combined with butterfly tattoos, roses symbolize a new love, be that for life or a new partner.

20. Traditional Butterfly Tattoos​

Traditional Butterfly Tattoos

Traditional Butterfly Tattoos

Traditional American, Western, or Old School tattoos are among the boldest and most iconic tattoo styles.

Clean black outlines, vivid colors, and minimal shading characterize the traditional tattooing style.

Traditional butterfly tattoos carry those characteristics regardless of the tattoo color, shape, or size.

21. Butterfly Tattoos on Ankle​

Butterfly Tattoos on Ankle

Butterfly Tattoos on Ankle

Placing tattoos on ankles holds a lot of meaning!

In the past, people used to wear an “anklet” at the passing of a loved one – as a special memory to carry forever.

Nowadays, an anklet tattoo symbolizes the end of a special relationship.

When a butterfly tattoo is placed on the ankle, a significant chapter of the wearer’s life has ended but is still in their memory.

22. Butterfly Tattoos on the Leg​

Butterfly Tattoos on Leg

Butterfly Tattoos on Leg

Another place of high symbolism for tattoo placement is the legs.

Legs, just like shoulders, represent the burdens you carry.

As such, butterfly tattoos on the lower legs represent what you’re working (or moving) towards.

23. Butterfly Tattoos on Chest​

Butterfly Tattoos on Chest

Butterfly Tattoos on Chest

Placing the wearer’s meanings in a “face forward” section, chest tattoos carry some of the most potent symbols.

For men, butterfly chest tattoos are a unique hallmark of sensitivity, masculinity, softness, and strength.

For women, butterfly chest tattoos depict a person of light, freedom, independence, and wisdom.

24. Foot Butterfly Tattoos​

Foot Butterfly Tattoos

Foot Butterfly Tattoos

When well-proportioned and subtle in color, foot butterfly tattoos look better than any accessories you can buy.

Moreover, cute butterfly tattoos on your foot create a positive mood with lightness and warmth.

Moreover, foot butterfly tattoos look amazing when paired with trendy sandals or good old wedges.

25. Butterfly Sleeve Tattoos​

Butterfly Sleeve Tattoos

Butterfly Sleeve Tattoos

In most cases, sleeve tattoos create a cohesive theme connected by style and color.

However, more recently, mixed assortments of different tattoos are becoming increasingly popular, allowing people to express unique meanings.

Butterfly sleeve tattoos are a beautiful combination of both worlds, a theme on your sleeve about the story of your life and how you continue to improve.

26. Forearm Butterfly Tattoos​

Forearm Butterfly Tattoos

Forearm Butterfly Tattoos

Tattoos placed on the forearm mean a few things.

First, because it’s so visible, it can represent confidence and honesty.

However, placing the butterfly tattoo on your forearm signals you’re “wearing your heart on your sleeve.

27. Sunflower and Butterfly Tattoos​

Sunflower and Butterfly Tattoos

Sunflower and Butterfly Tattoos

Found in nature-inspired styles such as Boho-chic, Cottagecore, and VSCO, delicate sunflowers blended in butterfly tattoos are highly creative.

Sunflowers symbolize loyalty and adoration thanks to the myth of Clytie and Apollo.

In conjunction with a butterfly tattoo, it symbolizes one’s passing to “the summer of their life.

Also, thanks to their association with the sun, sunflowers are well-known for being happy flowers and the perfect bloom for a summer flower delivery to brighten someone’s mood!

Moreover, you can use the flower’s stem as a quote and take those meaningful words to the next level.

28. Finger Butterfly Tattoos​

Finger Butterfly Tattoos

Finger Butterfly Tattoos

Given the limited space, finger tattoos indicate concise people.

As such, the wearer has a small space to convey the tattoo’s important message.

Most commonly, you’ll find words and letter tattoos on the fingers.

But, when you see a finger butterfly tattoo, you know that the wearer loves freedom and independence.

29. Purple Butterfly Tattoos​

Purple Butterfly Tattoos

Purple Butterfly Tattoos

Purple color is associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, power, and wisdom.

Purple tattoos symbolize creativity, dignity, grandeur, devotion, pride, mystery, ambition, and magic.

Purple butterfly tattoos represent you’re on your way to wealth, extravagance, and independence.

30. Butterfly Watercolor Tattoos​

Butterfly Watercolor Tattoos

Butterfly Watercolor Tattoos

Watercolor butterfly tattoo ideas are a world apart.

The tattoo retains the original meaning – according to the extra elements you want to add – but the light effect makes it stand out.

Choose colors that simultaneously give your beautiful tattoo design a touch of sweetness, liveliness, and cuteness.

Butterfly watercolor tattoos are perfect for cute styles such as Kawaii, Bubblegum Coquette, and even Babycore.


What Does a Butterfly Tattoo Mean?​

A single butterfly tattoo means young love – as butterflies fly among flowers, so do young people with their social lives.

The butterfly tattoo is also a deep and powerful representation of life and overcoming its challenges.

What Does a Butterfly Tattoo Symbolize?​

The butterfly tattoo symbolizes change and a new you, just as the butterfly emerges, majestically, from a humble caterpillar.

In Chinese culture, butterflies symbolize immortality, joy, grace, and summer.

A white butterfly tattoo also symbolizes self-development, evolution, and even one’s rebirth.

What Does a Butterfly Tattoo Mean on a Woman?​

A butterfly tattoo on a woman means rebirth and overcoming a big life hurdle.

Just as the butterfly emerges, majestically, from a humble caterpillar, the butterfly tattoo is a symbol of change and a new you.

What Does a Butterfly Tattoo Mean on a Man?​

Butterfly Tattoos are one of the unique tattoo ideas for men that have become popular thanks to Harry Styles.

A butterfly tattoo on a man symbolizes transformation, new beginnings, and overcoming mental health challenges.

Key Takeaways​

From black butterfly tattoos and realistic tattoos in geometric designs to yellow butterflies in negative space, we’ve got them all.

Each butterfly tattoo pic presented in this article is unique and selected to depict elegance and grace, just like the beautiful insect it describes.

Moreover, each butterfly tattoo design in this article breathes a sense of individualism and character only seen in live butterflies, full of freedom, life, and happiness.

Combined with other elements, such as floral tattoos, butterfly tattoos can represent life, the love of life, and the freedom to live your life with independence and flair.

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