26+ Stay True Tattoo Ideas In 2021 – Meanings, Designs, And More

26+ Stay True Tattoo Ideas In 2021 – Meanings, Designs, And More

Are you considering getting a tattoo? Maybe you are undecided on what type of tattoo you should get and whether you should choose a classic design with meaning or opt for a unique design unique to who you are?

There are many different reasons people get tattoos, and some popular designs include the Stay True tattoo. This tattoo design is steeped in history and has been a staple design in many tattoo artists’ repertoire for years.

That being said, if you google the meaning of the Stay True Tattoo, the Urban Dictionary will tell you that the phrase is:

A slogan used by straight edge kids. You have to stay true to what you believe in no matter what. This is a promise I keep to myself.

The History of the Stay True Tattoo

While the meaning of staying true is widely appropriated with staying true to yourself, the phrase is often attributed with more of nautical history. It has its roots in more of a seafaring connotation.

The earliest examples of the Stay True tattoo were on the knuckles of sailors within the phrase “hold fast, stay true

Inked on the knuckles of men who made a living out at sea either in fishing boats or part of a naval organization.

While it isn’t clear how and why it started, it is thought to date back to the days of wooden ships.


History of Sailors and Tattoos

There is a long history of sailors and tattoos. This can date right back to the 1700s and often depict swallows, girls in sailor hats, or dice.

Tattoos typically tended to be on the chest of the men who spent their lives in the water. The meaning and representation are thought to be based on the sailor’s experiences at sea and the ports they visited.

The words “hold fast” were often tattooed on the knuckles of a deckhand along with a rope in relation to the “holding fast to the ropes” this would prevent them from falling overboard or being swept out to sea in a storm.

“Stay True” was the command to the captain to stay true to the compass heading to avoid being blown far off course. 


The Meaning of Stay True Tattoos

“It means to stay where you are and stop what you’re doing in nautical terms.”

Hold Fast, Stay True may not hold any meaning in the nautical sense for many people but its relevance remains in its ability to be applied to a variety of different circumstances and situations.

A way to stay grounded and in the moment allowing yourself to regain focus and control and not to lose your way morally and physically.

Modern Day Stay True Tattoos

Over the years, the “hold fast, stay true” knuckles tattooed have evolved, and people are no longer associating these four-letter words as a complete phrase or to have anything to do with naval explorations.

The meaning behind the words has been repurposed to mean something more personal and loyal to who they are and those they hold close to.

While the sailors of days gone by would need to hold fast to the ropes and stay true to their physical direction, these days the words are meant in a more literal way and are open for interpretation.

In recent years having a tattoo with the words stay true is no longer restricted to knuckles, and it doesn’t mean you stay on the right course for a journey.


Unless that is, it is your own life journey, and you are focussing on not deviating from that path.

The Stay True Tattoo has regained popularity as people face different battles in their lifetime and want to focus on being true to who they are and what they want their life to mean.

Some of the more popular meanings and reasons for getting this timeless phrase inked on your body include;

  • Hold on to your personal core values, and don’t let go.
  • Hold firm and stay true to your organization’s core values.
  • Maintain your poise and professionalism.
  • Hold firm to your commitment to something bigger than yourself.
  • Maintain your commitment to the people in your communities who need, trust, and want you to be there but are too afraid to speak up.
  • Hold firm and remain true for the sake of the children who still look up to you and aspire to be like you when they grow up.
  • Hold fast and stay true for the people you have the honor of leading, coaching, and mentoring.
  • Keep your commitment to the important relationships in your life.
  • Maintain your commitment to yourself.
  • Maintain your commitment to learning and growing as a person

Popular Stay True Tattoo Designs

Stay True Tattoo designs are ideal for everyone. The fact that you can adapt this phrase to mean whatever you want it to mean is one reason for its maintained popularity.

Being able to express yourself and be creative should be at the core of why you are getting a tattoo.

You can choose to incorporate these four words into any design or symbolism that means something to you, or it can be written in a variety of fonts in any area of your body.


Think classic black script text for a discreet daily reminder of who you are and what you are staying true to.

Elaborate on more complex and intricate designs that encase the text within banners and scrolls or alongside the stem of a rose, indicating you are staying true to your roots no matter where the wind takes your petals.

Whatever your reason for choosing the Stay True Tattoo, this is a great choice for those who are dedicated to making the best of who they are and what they want from life.


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