Tattoo ideas

Compass Tattoo – Meaning of the motifs, pictures and cool designs


That Compass tattoo is profound and versatile even today. The maritime symbol was classic tattoo for seafarers and was meant to protect them when they sailed in rough waters so they could return home safely. What is the reason for the particular symbolism of the motif and what meanings does the compass have today? You can find out below.

What does a compass tattoo mean?

Compass tattoo -pictures-3d-arrow-women

The compass is an instrument with which one can orient oneself and this meaning can also be transferred to tattoos. Anyone who wants to wear a compass on their skin knows exactly where they want to go in life and has clear goals in mind. But there are many more meanings that make the motif so popular.

What does the compass stand for?


General meaning of compass tattoos:

  • Determined action – you have clear goals and know exactly where you want to go in life
  • Hope – when the wearer has strayed from his path
  • Protection during the journey – for the military and sailors
  • Strong belief in God – the compass shows the right way with the help of the hidden power
  • The home as a goal in life
  • Love of the sea

The direction of the needle in the compass tattoo

Compass tattoo watercolor-flower-anchor-arm

In contrast to the real compass, which unimaginatively always points north, the compass can be adjusted on your own skin, because the tattoo should have a different target for everyone. For this reason, the direction in which the compass needle is pointing can have a meaning.

What goes with a compass tattoo?

Compass tattoo watercolor-world-map-back-fleur-de-lis

The compass is a universal motif that is just as suitable for women as for men. It is represented differently on the skin – as an antique pocket compass with 3D details, as the star of the north, whose physical representation is the compass, or just the compass rose with a needle. Sometimes the compass is drawn very abstractly with simple lines.

Watercolor effects – compass with watercolor accents

Compass tattoo blue-watercolor-black

The compass can be combined very well with other maritime figures such as ship, lighthouse, sea, anchor and rope, but there are also other options available: world map, island, flowers, stars, hourglass, feather, swallows, etc..

Nordic compass


Icelandic singer and actress Bjork has a nice symbolic tattoo on her left upper arm that has deep meaning. The symbol Vegvisir is a Nordic symbol and means signpost in Icelandic. According to legend, Vegvisir was drawn with blood on the forehead so that the wearer would not get lost on his way.

Compass tattoo by Justin Bieber

Compass Tattoo justin-bieber-arm-pictures

In early 2014, pop star Justin Bieber made his Instagram debut with his twenty-sixth tattoo. A black and white compass tattoo was visible on his left bicep – the needle points an uncertain direction between south and southeast. At the time, the tattoo sparked rumors that the singer was looking for his direction in life.

Fleur de Lis symbol is also common


Fleur-de-lis motif depicts a stylized flower of the iris and used to be a symbol of the monarchy. The symbol has many variations and meanings such as monarchy, fame, honor, faith, mother mary and the holy trinity.

Celtic symbol with compass


The Celtic knot symbol is still called Triqueta and consists of three connected arcs. The knot has no beginning and no end, so this should remind us of the infinite nature of our mind. The symbol shows the infinite cycles – birth and rebirth – and symbolizes eternity.

Roses with compass tattoo


The compass is often combined with red roses, which stand for undying love and for something perfect. The different colors of the rose petals play an important role in this. Wilted roses, for example, are a sign of transience in life.

Anchor with compass tattoo


Anchors, which represent a special feeling of home, are also among the most popular motifs of seafarers. It still symbolizes stability and security. A very popular saying for the compass anchor tattoo is “I’ll be the one to guide you, but never hold you down.” – I will be the one who guides you, but doesn’t bring you down.

antique compass rose on the wrist

compass tattoo wrist couple antique look

It was not until the late 13th century that seafarers combined the unstable floating needle with the wind rose, also known as the compass rose. It is used to show the direction on the compass and is basically divided into sectors of the same size. With the nautical line, the circle is divided into 32 segments and one line corresponds to 1/6400 full angle = 0.05625 degrees.

Moon, sun and stars for orientation


Even before the compass was invented, the sun and stars were the most important orientation aid for seafarers. During the day they could determine the direction of the compass with a solar compass, while at night the North Star showed them the way to the north. The North Star does not change its position and is almost exactly over the North Pole.

Sayings for compass tattoo


Quotes in Latin and English look great and can be ideally combined with a compass tattoo. Depending on the meaning that the tattoo should have, you can choose different quotes on topics such as path, orientation, travel, reaching goals, time and others.

Skull with compass tattoo and saying

compass-tattoo-saying-skull-man-upper arm

Below are a few examples of compass tattoo sayings:

  • “Follow the dream – Usque ad finem” (in Latin this means “until the end”)
  • “Give up the life you planned for the life that is waiting for you” – farewell / new beginning
  • “Even a long journey begins with the first step.” – Reise / Wanderlust
  • “Not all that wander are lost.” – From “The Fellowship of the Ring” by Tolkien
  • “If you never get lost, you never get found” – hope

Compass with clock, arrow and eye

Compass tattoo -arrow-eye-watch-combo

If you want a bit of color, you can add a few color accents such as a red point, compass needle, arrow or other elements that should emphasize the desired direction. Those who like it colorful can embellish all elements of the tattoo with color.

colorful compass tattoo on forearm 


Colorful tattoos are becoming increasingly popular because they are particularly noticeable and simply cannot go unnoticed. A larger, colorful tattoo, however, is only suitable for the brave, especially if it is stung on a visible part of the body.

Compass, roses and lighthouse

compass tattoo lighthouse sea roses lines

Colorful tattoos that are only outlined look much more inconspicuous. It is always advisable to start with only the contours and then fill in the individual elements with color as desired. In this way you can better assess whether the tattoo would look better completely colorful or just outlined.

Anchor, world map and island

Compass tattoo man-arm-3d-world-map-anchor-palms

Would you like to combine the compass tattoo with another maritime symbol, then there are many ideas to choose from. Anchors wrapped with a rope have a particularly nautical effect. The combination with a world map or an island is also perfect for people who travel a lot. These gorgeous tattoos go well with any avid traveler.

Mini landscape in the compass

Compass tattoo -nordian-mountains-gusts-moon

Compasses are not only used in the sea, but also in nature as a guide. Therefore you can also combine this tattoo motif with a landscape. You decide for yourself whether a mountain landscape, forest landscape or a pasture landscape.

Also suitable as a couple tattoo for best friends


If you would like to be stabbed together with your best friends, then you can opt for this symbol. Suitable parts of the body are the forearm, shoulder blade or wrist. For friends, this tattoo can mean that no matter what happens and where each of them goes, they would find each other again and again.

small compasses as tattoos instead of wedding rings

compass tattoo couple ring finger

A new trend in finger tattoos are tattoos on the ring fingers that replace wedding rings. This original idea can be implemented with many different motifs and is enjoying increasing popularity, especially with young married couples. A small compass rose works well as a ring finger tattoo and marks the beginning of the couple’s life together.

Skull compass in red and black

Compass tattoo skull-red-black-color

The compass tattoo for men can be combined with a skull for an eerily beautiful design. The skull can be displayed on the compass rose as well as outside. For a more eye-catching look, the tattoo can be stabbed with color and designed as a highlight on the skin.

antique pocket compass with feathers and roses

Compass Tattoo -pocket-watch-antique-rose-feather-arm

Old school compasses are often chosen for a tattoo because they have a very special look. They speak for a bygone era and are perfect for those who want to be tattooed with a vintage motif. The antique pocket compass looks really good in combination with roses and feathers.

Compass and pocket watch on the upper arm

Compass Tattoo pocket watch arm man wing

Pocket compasses and pocket watches have a similar look and can therefore be combined well in tattoo design. With a watch on your skin, you can keep track of the time and immortalize a certain moment in your life. The pocket compass in this case can mean that from this time on you have found a new direction and have hope for the future.

Combination of pocket compass and watch broken by a bird

compass tattoo saying geometric design

Because of their similar optics, both motifs can also be included in a common design. Half of the case can be designed as a clock and the other half as a compass rose. Tattoo sayings that are written with beautiful lettering and successfully integrated into the design also go well with this.

opened pocket compass surrounded by flowers


If you want to be stabbed with a very special motif, then you can consider 3D tattoos. They look very realistic and never go unnoticed. Here’s a cool idea for an open 3D pocket compass that looks like it’s pointing its pointer north at any moment.

Tattoo on the upper arm with ship perfect for sailors


Tattoo idea for people who travel a lot

compass tattoo scapula world map

Wolf tattoo with minimalistic compass as an eye

compass tattoo upper arm wolf eye

Compass tattoo with earth globe and airplane

compass tattoo earth globe plane

nice tattoo idea with rose on the compass rose for the ribs


Tattoo for women – opened pocket compass in combination with roses

compass tattoo open flowers