X Tattoo Meaning

The X tattoo meaning often symbolizes a bold move, and can also mean something that is even taboo or provocative. The X symbol is common to have as a standalone tattoo or in other variations that send a significant message of change or negative indications.

A black X image done in grunge art style -- this would create an X tattoo meaning with message different from other X images.

By negative, the X is often literal, meaning “no” or an error of some kind, but it can also signify something that is incorrect. At the same time, it can mean a “no” against something tempting or provocative.

Learn more about the X tattoo and its multiple different meanings here, and see how a grand message can be sent from a tattoo that appears so simple.

X Tattoo Meaning

There is rarely just one meaning to any tattoo and this one is no different. The theme of endings and “no” is present in the X tattoo. The most common X tattoo meaning is a negative statement or an indication of the word “no” in some area of the individual’s life. It could mean that something is wrong or went wrong, or it could be a warning.

A black and white image of an X with a sword crossing it horizontally.

It is also sometimes an indicator of a war in someone’s life, such that the crossed lines of an X could be saying that someone has “crossed the line” with the tattoo wearer. The X tattoo can also be a placeholder, and symbolize a person in someone’s life, but one that does not have a name that is being inked. Instead, just the “X” is inked.

The letter X is the symbol for the Roman numeral “10.” 10s are a symbol of endings and changes in numerology and New Age themes such as the Tarot. So the X tattoo may be sending the message of an ending, a big change, or even just the literal number 10 to mark an event, such as a birthday or birth month.

Additionally, the X tattoo meaning could be as simple as a placement for a hobby, interest, or inspiration in someone’s life. It could represent the name of a television show or movie, such as the X-Files, or a person such as Malcolm X.

As you see, an X tattoo meaning is open to a lot of interpretation!

Two Xs in formal font styles in different sizes.

X Tattoo Variations

How the X tattoo is paired with other symbols will say a lot about the individual wearing it. There are many variations of the X tattoo and many ways the “X” shape can be created. In most cases, the X tattoo is just on its own, with an X and little else (or nothing) around it. However, it can be inked with other symbols to tell the story of its origin to the individual wearing it.

The X might have a degree of suffering behind the X tattoo meaning for the person wearing it. Here you might see indicators of burns, flames, wounds, or blood. There may even be scars or stitches inked with the X to indicate a wound placement.

What the X looks like will also be significant. An X that is created to look like strokes of paint could say that the individual wearing it is an artist or painter.

A black X made to look like two paint brush strokes.

When the X is done in cursive or with horizontal lines across the top of the X lines, this is a Roman numeral and the X tattoo meaning often has something to do with the number 10.

The X tattoo meaning with a heart or other symbols of love/romance could mean an X-boyfriend or girlfriend. On the other hand, an “X” paired with an “O” represents “hugs and kisses,” which sends a romantic message.

Sometimes, the X tattoo meaning signifies something provocative, and might appear as 3 X’s in a row, to suggest something or someone is XXX-rated. It could also indicate a “no” towards any symbol that the X is connected to in the tattoo itself.

For many, a common X tattoo meaning is the word “no” to substances such as alcohol or drugs — the straight edge subculture that came out of punk rock music. It could mean the person won’t use those substances at all and never  has, or that the individual has made the choice in their life to let those substances go completely. The X tattoo has been popular among those who live straight edge ever since the beginning of the straight edge culture.

For a darker meaning, the X is created by using weapon images such crossed swords or even knives. The X tattoo has been represented with baseball bats, knives, and even straight edge razors when inked with darker meanings in mind.

X Tattoo Styles

There are many different styles of tattoo and they each influence the mood and tone of a tattoo in different ways. Most of the time, the X tattoo is a simple X. Blackwork and tribal tattoos are the most common styles of X tattoos, and it is rare to see X tattoos in many other styles.

A white X on a black background created in a heavily outlined font style.

Traditional tattoos are tattoos where there is just a black border and black inking in the tattoo, and the traditional style is the most common form of the X tattoo. In many cases, it just looks like the letter X was drawn on the person wearing it.

Blackwork tattoos simply embody a black tattoo with black borders, and in some cases, a field where there is a heavy black filling in. The X tattoo isn’t always even that extravagant, and is sometimes just appearing as a drawn X on the body of the individual wearing it. There is no color at all in these X tattoos, and just an X with a very simple but strong message.

Tribal tattoos are a very common tattoo style that grew out of the tattoos that were done in the Aztec, Borneo, Pacific Islander, and Maori cultures. This tattoo style is known for full black lines, geometric patterns with lots of curves, dots, and black ink. In this style, the X tattoo would be large and incorporated into a tribal design. There is rarely any color used in tribal tattoos, and in this case, the X tattoo would typically not have any color either.

X tattoos can be brought into other symbols where color is implemented into the tattoo design. You might see an X tattoo with an eagle, a heart, or even flowers, where there is some color in the tattoo.

A decorative X with a heart embellishment detail.

X Tattoo Considerations

The most common X tattoo meaning is that it is a sign that someone is saying no to drugs or alcohol, and this is something you may want to consider when getting this tattoo. This goes back to punk rock days when bouncers would mark black Xs on the back of the hands of underage customers — this would identify that they were not permitted to purchase alcohol, but could still go into a club or bar to watch the performance.

In some harder circles, the X tattoo can be a symbol of death or act as a warning sign. If you are at all concerned about how your X tattoo may be perceived, having other symbols or details in the tattoo will help to set a mood or tone that makes your message clearer.

X Tattoo Placement

The placement of the X tattoo can be important in its meaning, and this isn’t the case with every tattoo. If the X tattoo is anywhere near the hand, wrist, or fingers, the X tattoo is sending the message of someone being underage or saying no to drugs or alcohol.

Closeup of a tattooist working on a client's shoulder.

An X tattoo on the face will send the opposite message, saying that the person lives life on the edge a little bit. Facial tattoos with Xs on their own are also often unique to a life of crime, and send a very bold and daring message of warning.

X Tattoo Examples

If you think an X tattoo has to be a simple, basic letter, think again. X tattoos can be surprisingly creative. The following images are ideas to help you come up with just the right image for the X tattoo meaning you want it to represent.

A tribal-style black X image.

Black Ink X Images

Many of these designs would work as templates for tattoos in black ink, but some of them could also work for color tattoo as well.

Example 1: There are many ways to create the shape of an X. Crossed arrows are a popular choice of objects that appear in X tattoos.

A black and white X formed by two crossed arrows.

Example 2: There are all sorts of font styles that can be used for the letter X — this is a calligraphy font.

A black calligraphy font X.

Example 3: This curved tribal art style shows another creative way to represent an X shape.

A decorative black X in a curved tribal art style.

Example 4: This tribal style X looks as though the arms of the X are twisted around one another in the middle of the X.

A black tribal style X created to look like the arms are twisted around one another in the middle.

Example 5: Another calligraphy-style X with decorative embellishments.

A black ornate X with vertical and horizontal line details running through the middle of the X.

Example 6: This X is created by two crossed chef’s knives — if this were a tattoo, there would likely be a story behind this X tattoo meaning.

A black X formed by two crossed chef knives -- would make for an X tattoo meaning with a story behind it.

Example 7: Another tribal art style image of an X that appears to be formed by crossed swords.

A black tribal-style X that looks like two crossed swords.

Example 8: A simplified tribal X shape.

A tribal-style X shown in black, but also color options.

Example 9: This delicate X has floral motif details.

A black and white image of a simple, curved X with floral details.

Example 10: A simple X, but the contrast between the two arms of the X makes this anything for a boring image.

A basic black X with one very thick arm and one thin arm.

Example 11: This X is shown against a floral backdrop.

A black and white image of a simple outlined X against a backdrop of flowers and foliage.

Example 12: Another decorative X.

A formal font X with decorative details inside the X shape.

Example 13: An X created to look as though it were made with a fountain pen.

An X created to look like it was sketched with a black fountain pen.

Example 14: An industrial-look X.

An industrial-looking X in various shades of grays.

Example 15: A simple X in a box shape.

A simple black X surrounded by a black border.

Color X Images

While Xs in black ink tend to be the most popular, there are no rules to say that an X tattoo can’t be done in color. A colorful X creates a different feel for an X tattoo meaning.

Example 1: A rainbow-colored X.

A colorful X with decorative, swirled details.

Example 2: A very bright and colorful X.

A yellow-bordered X with paisley-style details inside the yellow borders.

Example 3: An abstract figure X in red.

A red abstract X created with four curved shapes.

Example 4: A formal-looking font X with shading detail lines.

An X in a formal-style font in blue ink with shading details.

Example 5: An X with a heart and a wing detail suggest a romantic X tattoo meaning.

A black curved X shown with a red heart and a wing detail.

Example 6: A vintage tattoo font X with simple floral details.

A vintage tattoo font X with colorful flowers and leaves.

Example 7: This red hand-drawn font X has floral details, but the barbed wire adds an edge to the image.

A red X in a hand-drawn font style with barbed wire and floral details.

Example 8: This X image is almost hidden by all the abstract details on the X and in the octagonal backdrop.

A colorful X and an octagon backdrop with surrealism details inside the shapes.

Example 9: A black typewriter-font X edged in red.

A typewriter-style font black X edged in red.

Example 10: This X is created in a cartoonish font.

A cartoon-style blue X.

Example 11: This blue X is created in a highly detailed tribal style.

A blue X in a detailed tribal style.

Example 12: This X is formed by six intersecting curves for a very unique-looking X.

Other X Images

An X created by six intersecting curves.

An X tattoo doesn’t have to be a serious, minimalist image and you can have as much fun with it as you like.

Example 1: The different sword styles set different tones when used to form an X shape.

Three Xx formed by different styles of crossed swords.

Example 2: An X formed by a horned animal skull and leg bones could have X tattoo meanings that are humorous or macabre, depending on the wearer.

A white X on a black background created by the shape of a horned animal skull and leg bones.

Example 3: An X that is formed by a crossed makeup brush and an eyeliner brush.

An X shape created by a crossed makeup brush and an eyeliner brush.

Example 4: A whimsical unicorn created in an X shape gives the image a playful feeling.

A whimsical unicorn created in the shape of an X.

Example 5: An abstract style is a way to “hide” an X that you might not want to be obvious as an X.

An abstract, industrial-looking X shape.

Final Thoughts on X Tattoos

An X tattoo isn’t as simple as you may have thought it was. There can be some pretty complex X tattoo meanings the image stands for.

An X in a dot art style.

While there can be the “No” message, it’s not necessarily a negative one. The “No” can be a rejection of things that are harmful or that the person no longer wants in their life. An X can represent the end of something bad, which makes room for the beginning of something good.

An X tattoo meaning may have something to do with the number 10, a pop culture reference, or represent the shorthand symbol for a hug. There are a lot of possibilities for what an X tattoo really means to the person wearing it.

If an X tattoo is a good body art choice for you, it’s your choice as to how simple or intricate your tattoo design will be.

Want to know more about the meaning behind other tattoos? Click here to read the articles in our Tattoo Meanings series.

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