Grenade Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Grenade Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

It’s something just about everyone on the planet can recognize right away – a grenade. As such, it’s not uncommon to spot a grenade tattoo, but what does it mean when you see one? Today we’re going to answer that question by taking a deep-dive into the symbolism, meanings, and more when it comes to these explosive statements-in ink.

Let’s discuss what a grenade tattoo might mean and what this means for you!


What is the History of Grenade Tattoos?

Grenade tattoos have probably been around for a very long time. The first grenades weren’t as fancy, of course, generally being made up of a soup or other tin can or even a glass jar, packed full of glass globes, nails, or other forms of shrapnel. Iron balls were also popular housing for those not forced to improvise.

Gunpowder and a fuse completed the package and these first grenades (or at least the first use of the word ‘grenade’ to describe them) dates all the way back to France in the year 1536.

By 1667, the French actually had special troops called ‘grenadiers’ who handled them but by 1854 Russians, who apparently liked these little bombs, were lobbing grenades of their own, right back at the French. It wouldn’t be until 1915 when the British would invent a safer grenade with a pin.

This was called the ‘Mills Bomb’ and the safety measures it included helped to pave the way to the grenades of today. Needless to say, with such a long history, we imagine that seeing a Grenade tattoo has been a possibility for almost 500 years now – quite this history for these deadly little bombs.


What Do Grenade Tattoos Symbolize?

Grenades are explosives, and as such they represent all kinds of aggressive things, such as the possibility of deadly response, the threat of overkill to anyone who threatens the owner of the tattoo, or even the simple promise that once angered, the owner of the tattoo reserves the right to repay the aggressor with an ‘overkill’ response.

This is not the only symbolism, however, as you have to remember that grenades go back for a long time in history, so they can have a number of meanings for you to discover if you look.

For instance, a grenade tattoo where the grenade is fashioned to resemble the human heart doesn’t necessarily violence, but rather speaks of an explosive passion once the owner has given someone their affections.

Also, very important in the symbolism is the grenade’s pin. Is it present or already pulled? As you can imagine, that’s a very important distinction because that little pin decides what the grenade is going to do and what kind of warning or other meaning the grenade tattoo has for it’s owner and for all who see it.


What Do Grenade Tattoos Mean?

What a grenade tattoo means is going to depend on how it’s depicted and what’s around it. A grenade by itself, with the pin depicted at the base of the grenade as if already pulled can mean that one has an explosive temper or tends to react immediately when they feel threatened.

Grenade tattoos can also be indicative or military service and you also have tattoos that incorporate a grenade into a grander design, such as the ‘grenade heart’ that we mentioned earlier. While the ultimate meaning and purpose of a grenade is a controlled explosion, with a little creativity it can mean a lot of things.

Take, for example, a colorful grenade with the word ‘love’ on it, being thrown into a crowd in a tattoo scene. In such a case, it’s not about violence at all, with the exception of perhaps the owner’s frustration with trying to push people to simply get along.

Think about what you want to say that also says something about you and that will give you a starting point so that your grenade tattoo won’t be at risk for being a ‘dud’!


Where Do Grenade Tattoos Usually Go?

Grenade tattoos can go anywhere, but the most common placements are going to be the outer, upper arm, the back, and sometimes the hip if the owner of the tattoo wants to communicate that their intimacy is aggressive, to say the least!

To decide on placement, it’s best to think of a few spots, and then to check with your tattoo artist. A good artist can not only render the art beautifully, but they can work with the curves and contours of your body to make the presentation even better. It’s well-worth the extra time. Just a little food for thought!


Characteristics and Styles of Grenade Tattoos

Grenade tattoos are depicted in all sorts of ways. Military type tattoos tend to be more photorealistic, often in black and white but not always, while civilian grenades might be done almost cartoonishly with New School style or even in a bright Watercolor style if the grenade is meant to be a statement of irony.

You might even see geometric grenades from time to time, especially with hacker types who are warning the world that they know tech well enough to break the very best, if they set their minds to it.

Once you’ve decided on your initial design, your best bet is really to just go through your artist’s portfolio to see which styles ‘call to you’ the most. You’d be surprised how much this can improve upon your initial idea – it’s one of the perks of working with art.

There are always new and interesting ways to say what you want.


Some closing words on Grenade tattoos

Today we’ve explored the symbolism and meaning behind a grenade tattoo and as you can see, there’s a whole more to it than a simple ‘boom’. Yes, grenades are traditionally a symbol of war and explosive responses, but art doesn’t follow anyone’s rules and that means you can say a lot with a grenade tattoo of your own.

With centuries of history, we can say with full certainty that you’ve definitely got a lot of options with grenade tattoos!

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