Carnation Tattoo: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Carnation Tattoo: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Carnation tattoos symbolize fascination, love and protection and are a fantastic way to have an interesting but delicate tattoo that can act as your own personal source of strength and courage.

What is the History of Carnation Tattoos?

Carnations are indeed one of the world’s oldest cultivated flowers and stem from Asia and Europe. They were even cultivated by the ancient Greeks and Romans and have been used throughout the centuries for a variety of different purposes. In fact one of the earliest known botanists, Theophrastus, is known to have handled them!

The history of the carnation involves not only the beauty of the flower, being used in wreaths, bouquets and as home decor, but also its health benefits. Carnation tea was a common antidote for anxiety and stress and as a way to give someone a little extra energy.


Known as the “flower of the gods”, there is even more to the carnation than this! Using the flower for health purposes it was also used to cure stomach aches, wrinkles, fevers and a whole range of different skin issues.

There is a debate on the history of the flower’s name as some people believe that it originates from the word “coronation”, a reference to the wreath placed on a victor’s head during a ceremony whereas others think that it comes from “carnis”, meaning flesh in a reference to the flower’s light pink coloring.

However, the history of its Latin name is not disputed. The Latin term “dianthus caryophyllus” comes from Zeus and means “flower of the gods”.

Carnations have not commonly been the flower of choice for tattoos and are often overlooked in favor of more traditional flower, including roses, lilies, lotuses and sunflowers. However, hopefully, as the history and significance of the carnation are understood its beauty and symbolism will be recognized.


What Do Carnation Symbolize?

Because carnations have been around for such a long time there are many different meanings associated with the flower, all of which have deep historical significance and can be used to send messages to loved ones.

Perhaps the primary symbolism of carnations is devotion. For this reason the flower is often used in bridal bouquets and makes the perfect choice to send to your partner. In fact, the history of this meaning dates back a long way in history as painters in the 15th and 16th centuries used to include carnations in the portraits of a young couple about to be wed.


Closely related to the symbolism of devotion, carnations are used used to symbolize love and longing. There is not one specific type of love that this flower is used to symbolize, meaning that it can be used to show a friend, lover or even family member affection and remind them that you love them and that they mean a lot to you.

Distinction is another symbolic meaning behind this particular flower as this flower has a very unique shape and is not easily mistaken for any other. So, in addition to showing someone that you love them or that they hold a special place in your heart you can also show them that they are unique and stand out in the world!

Another symbolism that comes from their unique shape is fascination. The longer you look at a carnation flower the more interesting details you will find and you can quickly and easily become captivated by their unique look. All of these wonderful meanings are the reason why carnations have long been included in works of art such as poems and paintings.


What Do Carnation Tattoos Mean?

When it comes to carnations tattoos, the flower comes in many different colors and depending on the color the meaning will change, as is normal standard practice for the meanings of flowers. So here we will run through the different colors and their meanings.

Pink carnations, one of the more traditional colors for the flower, mean gratitude and are often included in bouquets of flowers to say thank you to people. The pink carnation is also commonly given on Mother’s Day to thank her for everything that she has done over the years. In the US the carnation is actually the official flower for the day!

In keeping with the traditional meanings, a white carnation symbolizes purity and love, but also good luck. These meanings make the white version of this flower the perfect choice for those getting married or even those embarking on a new adventure or exams. A little extra luck can go a long way.


Red, again in keeping with tradition, symbolizes love. However, the red carnation not only means romantic love but also any type of love. So, you can give these to a friend, family member or your husband or wife.

Purple carnations are slightly rarer and mean capriciousness. If anyone you know likes to have adventures and travel, or they are just impulsive, then this is the perfect flower for them.

Where Do Carnation Tattoos Usually Go?

Carnation tattoos are one of the types of floral tattoos that can be small and dainty or large and bold. For this reason there is no one particular area of the body that is perfect for a carnation tattoo so you can choose your perfect placement to suit your style and needs.

However, if you are after a more delicate style then areas such as the wrist or ribs are good placement options. For bolder designs, you may need a large area such as the arm or shoulder.


Characteristics and Styles of Carnation Tattoos

Because of the different meanings behind the colors you could opt for a colored version of the tattoo in order to make your meanings crystal clear.

A delicate fine line version of this tattoo, colored lightly with your chosen color makes the perfect feminine tattoo that will help to bring you strength and fascination with life.

You can opt to have a wash of color over the tattoo’s outline or you can opt for bolder lines and bolder colors.

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