17 Killer Dagger Tattoo Designs
What’s life without a little bit of danger and intrigue? Dagger tattoo designs are some of the most classic and beloved types of tattoos. They were (and still are) a hallmark of traditional tattooing and they’ve since evolved into staples of almost every tattoo style.
Dagger tattoos make great gap fillers because of their tall and slim shape. But they can also take up large sections of arms or legs with the addition of flowers, animals, skulls, or hearts.
We also love seeing how artists approach sternum dagger tattoos. There’s just something so satisfying about a clean, crisp dagger centered in the middle of the sternum and accented by symmetrical embellishments.
If you’re considering getting a dagger tattoo, keep reading to learn more about some of the meanings and symbolism and see our top picks from some of our favorite female tattoo artists.
Dagger Tattoo Meaning: Common Symbolism
Personally, we think dagger tattoos just look cool. But there are certain designs and styles that have come to hold certain meaning and symbolism.
“Depending on the client’s personal meaning for their tattoo, a dagger alone can mean a variety of things such as death, betrayal, and protection,” says Cal Melaugh, a tattoo artist based in Northern Ireland.
Natalia Gutierrez, a tattoo artist from Los Yoses, Costa Rica, says that these tattoos can also symbolize or pay homage to ancient cultures.
“[Daggers are] one of the first tools developed by humans, and symbolize thriving through difficulties,” she says. “They can relate to death, as well as healing, and in many cultures (such as Egypt), gods have daggers.”
Heart and Dagger Tattoos
Heart and dagger tattoos often depict a dagger cutting into or through a heart, and tend to be a symbol of lost love or betrayal by a friend or lover. “It can refer to heartbreak,” says Melaugh.
Hearts and daggers also show up regularly in religious iconography, and sacred heart tattoos are often accompanied by daggers.
Rose and Dagger Tattoos
Rose and dagger tattoos are another example of a popular traditional design that continues to evolve within the industry. These tattoos often represent the duality of life, says Melaugh. “The dagger relates to a strong, dark side, where the rose is love, joy, and beauty,” she says. “They both coexist together.”
Similar to heart and dagger tattoos, a pierced rose and dagger tattoo may also represent betrayal and heartbreak, since roses traditionally symbolize love and beauty.
Snake and Dagger Tattoos
These tattoos generally represent bravery, triumph, or overcoming demons or obstacles—especially if the dagger or sword is stabbing the snake. If a snake is wrapping around a dagger, this is usually a reference to the Roman god Mercury.
Skull and Dagger Tattoos
Similarly to other skull symbolism, daggers that accent a skull in a tattoo may represent death. If the dagger is piercing the skull, the tattoo may stand for bravery or overcoming death.
What to Consider When Getting a Dagger Tattoo
If you are interested in getting a dagger tattoo, there are a couple things you should consider when it comes to size, placement, and style.
Define the style
Traditional dagger tattoos will have thicker outlines, bolder colors, and a more simplistic and clean overall look. But illustrative or neo traditional dagger tattoos may be more ornamental and pull in a more varied color palette. No matter what style you ultimately choose, find an artist who specializes in that style.
Think over the placement
Since dagger and sword tattoos are traditionally thin and long, think carefully about the placement—especially if you plan to get more tattoos surrounding it in the future.
If you’re planning to have it tattooed on a larger area of your body—such as your thigh, hip, calf, or shoulder, discuss the possibilities of additional accents and design features with your artist.
Consider sprucing up the hilt
The other thing to think about during the design process with your artist is how you want the hilt—or the handle—of the sword or dagger to look. This piece of the design really offers artists the chance to be creative if you’re open to a non-traditional look.
Dagger Tattoo Inspiration from Female Artists
There’s no end to incredible sword and dagger tattoo inspiration from talented tattoo artists all over the world. But here are some of our favorite designs from female tattoo artists that showcase some killer style.
Pierced Rose Tattoo by Angela Emr
You know how we mentioned amazing dagger handles above? Well this is one of our favorite examples of that. This rose and dagger tattoo by Angela Emr, who tattoos at Studio Thirteen in Cocoa, Florida features a skeleton knight holding a sword on top of this sword. It’s very meta in the most badass way. God, and that spider? It’s just so good.
Dagger and Panther Head Tattoo by Renae Haak
It doesn’t get more traditional than this. This incredible piece by Renae Haak, who works at Diabolik Tattoo in Newcastle, in New South Wales, Australia is so damn clean. The colors are packed in beautifully, the blade looks nice and shiny, and we love the sharp, blood-spatter accents.
Traditional Rose and Dagger by Lydia Kinsey
We love how Athens, Georgia-based tattoo artist Lydia Kinsey amped up a traditional rose and dagger design with a pop of bright blue on the handle. The color choice looks great against the saturated yellows, greens, and reds. It’s just a cool-looking tattoo—there’s no denying it.
Arya’s Needle by Rhi Hustwayte
Okay, so maybe this is more of a sword and not so much a dagger, but this is our website, so we make the rules. We are big fans of Game of Thrones, and Arya’s trusty sword Needle has become an exceedingly popular tattoo request.
We love this version done by Rhi Hustwayte, who tattoos at True Tattoo London. The tiny details in the handle are perfection, and that straight, razor-thin blade really does Arya and House Stark justice.
Saturated Sternum Dagger Tattoo by Erin Belley
This client is our hero. Seriously. We don’t know how she sat through this tattoo, but we’re sure glad she did. We love the deep saturation and boldness of this tattoo by Erin Belley, who is based in Calgary. Not only is this tattoo huge and solid, but the black lacework in the back makes it feel romantic and give it that extra pop.
Pierced Eye Tattoo by Finja Riefenstahl
The limited color palette on this dagger and eye tattoo by Berlin-based artist Finja Riefenstahl is so refreshing and it makes such an impact. The gray shading on the blade and handle is so smooth, and it really stands out against the bright yellow and golden accents. The little jewel detail in the center of the handle is just the cherry on top of this awesome tattoo.
Moth and Dagger Tattoo by Gillian Marie
You can’t scroll through tattoos by Pennsylvania-based tattoo artist Gillian Marie without seeing a sick dagger tattoo. The girl is becoming known for these cutting-edge (ugh, we’re the worst) designs. This neo traditional autumnal moth and dagger tattoo, done at White Oak in West Chester, is sheer perfection. Look at the fade on those wings and that playful punch of orange in the background. Goddamn, it’s good.
Colorful Shin Flower and Dagger Tattoo by Shannon Parrott
We are digging the pastel shades in this colorful flower and dagger tattoo by Shannon Parrott, who works at Blind Faith Tattoo in Worthing, West Sussex. The way the handle is shaped and the overall palette gives us a beachy feeling, which is pretty cool when you consider we’re looking at an instrument of death. That lovely blue tip and the effortless color fades are really nice.
Lovebirds Heart and Dagger by Liz Hapi
Not all dagger designs have to be threatening or tough, and this one from Australian artist Liz Hapi is a great example of a super-sweet version. The two lovebirds fit so nicely in the heart and the reds and pinks offer a nice contrast to the darkness of the dagger and leaves.
Sternum and Stomach Dagger by Emilie Robinson
Again, with the super tough ladies. This traditional take from Minneapolis-based tattoo artist Emilie Robinson is executed with precision and finesse. The openness within the tattoo, where skin is showing, keeps the design from feeling heavy or weighed down. We love the use of black too to really ground the whole tattoo. It’s lovely.
Chunky and Colorful Dagger Tattoo by Cal Melaugh
This is a great example of how a dagger tattoo can really expand and take up space with the addition of big and bold floral elements. This calf tattoo was done by Cal Melaugh, who tattoos at Tattoo Studio 76 in Derry, Northern Ireland. The blade looks almost crystallized and the small, ornamental details are a nice contrast to the big leaves of the rose.
Blackwork Eye and Dagger by Sara Rosa
We cannot get enough of the work by Barcelona-based tattooer Sara Rosa. While she works her magic with color tattoos, her blackwork pieces are really something special.
What we love about this tattoo is how bold and almost simple it looks on first glance, but how all the intricate details really stand out as you look closer. There are so many tiny, fine lines in this tattoo that are executed beautifully—just look at that crosshatching on the hilt!
Black Heart and Dagger Tattoo by Solemn
First, let’s just all agree how pleasing it is to look at that clean, black heart surrounded by tiny, little pearls. Where the sword pierces the heart is so satisfying, and all of the details in the handle area are exquisite. Solemn’s neo traditional color palette of mostly red, black, green, and gold is instantly recognizable. We’re big fans.
Blue Dagger by Jessica Danilow
Another of our neo-traditional picks is this big, blue dagger and rose tattoo, done by Jessica Danilow, co-owner of Gypsy Cat Tattoos and Piercing in Winnipeg. What we really like about this one—besides all of the swirly, beautiful linework—is how she kept the whole dagger including the hilt completely blue with that one red jewel in the center. It’s almost like the dagger is made of ice. We just love the color play in this one.
Snake, Peony, and Dagger Sternum Tattoo by Alicia Jagels
Alicia Jagels, who tattoos at Raygun Samurai Tattoo in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, did the damn thing with this sternum tattoo. There is so much detail in the linework of the snake, and the leaves of the peonies, but we love how the tattoo remains open in the petals and the blade of the dagger. The placement and symmetry is also really nice for a sternum tattoo. It’s just dope. Period.
Cute Bunny Dagger by Erin Nicole
If anyone could make a lethal weapon into the cutest tattoo on the planet, it is tattoo artist Erin Nicole who works in Minneapolis. This bunny dagger is EVERYTHING—and it’s done on fellow lady tattooer Emilie Robinson! The sugary color palette of the hilt, with the swirly details on the blade make this tattoo feel like it’s straight out of a French fairytale. Shouldn’t all dagger tattoos be topped with bunny heads? Yeah, probably.
Traditional Heart and Dagger Tattoo by Cassie Lynn O’Neal
Sometimes a bloody dagger piercing a heart says it all. This traditional piece, tattooed by Cassie Lynn O’Neal, who works out of Floating World Tattoos in Philadelphia is just really sharp (dagger puns forever!). The transparent effect on the heart is really cool and the rope-like detail on the handle is a nice touch.