Teardrop tattoo

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Music artist Lil Wayne with teardrop tattoos below his eyes.

The teardrop tattoo or tear tattoo is a symbolic tattoo of a tear that is placed underneath the eye. The tattoo can have various meanings: it can signify that the wearer has killed someone[1] or has spent time in prison;[2] that the wearer was raped while incarcerated[3][4] or it can acknowledge the loss of a family or fellow gang member. Sometimes, only the wearer will know the exact meaning of the tattoo.[4][5]

The tattoo is sometimes worn by the female companions of prisoners in solidarity with their loved ones.[6] 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.[citation needed]

US rappers The Game and Lil Wayne have teardrop tattoos signifying the death of friends.[7][8] Amy Winehouse had a teardrop tattooed to mark her distress at husband Blake Fielder-Civil remaining on remand at Pentonville Prison.[8] 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.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Smith, Brendan (April 25, 2008). "Tattoo Regret". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2010-09-20. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/3624-four-days-in-the-oaxaca-state-prison
  4. ^ a b 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. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ Binelli, Mark (April 16, 2009). "Life on Planet Wayne". Rolling Stone. pp. 43–47, 73–74. 
  8. ^ a b http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2007/dec/10/amywinehousetattoo
  9. ^ Lorenzo, Tom (2012-02-14). "Amar'e Stoudemire Honors His Late Brother By Getting A "Teardrop" Tattoo". Sports Grid. Retrieved 2012-02-28.