The teardrop tattoo or tear tattoo is a symbolic tattoo of a tear that is placed underneath the eye. The teardrop is one of the most widely recognised prison tattoos and has various meanings: it can signify that the wearer has spent time in prison; that the wearer was raped while incarcerated and tattooed with a teardrop under the eye by the offending party, this was a way of “marking” an inmate as property or to publicly humiliate the inmate as face tattoos cannot be hidden. It can acknowledge the loss of a family or fellow gang member; or in some cases, that the wearer has killed someone. Sometimes the exact meaning of the tattoo is only known by the wearer. The tattoo's meaning also can change depending on whether the tear is empty or is filled with ink.
The tattoo is sometimes worn by the female companions of prisoners in solidarity with their loved ones. According to The Devil's Front Porch, a book written by Lester Douglas Johnson about serving 1927 to 1957 in Kansas State Penitentiary; the tattoo denoted a member of "The Old Fraternity"; referring to the Biblical Cain who slew his brother.
US rappers The Game and Lil Wayne have teardrop tattoos signifying the death of friends. Amy Winehouse had a teardrop tattooed to mark her distress at husband Blake Fielder-Civil remaining on remand at Pentonville Prison. Basketball player Amar'e Stoudemire has had a teardrop tattoo since 2012; honoring his older brother Hazell Jr. who had died in a car accident. A teardrop tattoo is also worn by a Portuguese footballer Ricardo Quaresma.
- "15 prison tattoos and their meanings: Corrections One". correctionsone.com.
The teardrop is one of the most widely recognised prison tattoos.
- Macdonald, John Marshall (1987). The confession: interrogation and criminal profiles for police officers. Apache Press. p. 83. ISBN 9780961823009.
A teardrop tattoo below the corner of the eye represents five years in prison.
- "Four Days in the Oaxaca State Prison : Mexico Living". mexconnect.com. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
the victim of rape is tattooed with a teardrop below the eye by the offending party
- "Teardrop Tattoo Meaning: Tattoos With Meaning". tattooswithmeaning.com.
a way of “marking” an inmate as property of another person or for humiliation; a face tattoo cannot be covered up or hidden.
- Poljac, Bakir; Burke, Tod (August 2008). "Erasing the Past: Tattoo-Removal Programs for Former Gang Members". FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. 77 (8). pp. 13–18.
- Smith, Brendan (April 25, 2008). "Tattoo Regret". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2010-09-20.
- WOLF, SONJA; Logan, Samuel (August 2010). "This is for the Mara Salvatrucha: Inside the MS-13, America's Most Violent Gang". Journal of Latin American Studies. 42 (3): 627–629. doi:10.1017/s0022216x10000994.
- Santos, Xuan (Fall 2009). "The Chicana Canvas: Doing Class, Gender, Race, and Sexuality through Tattooing in East Los Angeles". Feminist Formations. 21 (3): 91–120.
- Binelli, Mark (April 16, 2009). "Life on Planet Wayne". Rolling Stone. pp. 43–47, 73–74.
- Hooper, Mark (10 December 2007). "Catch of the day: Amy's new tattoo". theguardian.com. Retrieved 3 November 2016 – via The Guardian.
- Lorenzo, Tom (2012-02-14). "Amar'e Stoudemire Honors His Late Brother By Getting A "Teardrop" Tattoo". Sports Grid. Retrieved 2012-02-28.
- "No-one knows why Ricardo Quaresma has two tear tattoos on his face". dreamteamfc.com. 18 June 2016. Retrieved 3 November 2016.