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Oh… Tat’s What that Means!

Oh… Tat’s What That Means!

To many, tattoos are a fun way to express themselves, while to others it represents their past, present, and future in gang violence or affiliation.  Tattoos have different meanings to the beholder, however, before getting a tattoo one must be cautious of the meaning behind it. Many tattoos are associated with gangs, prison crimes, or prison sentences.  Some of the most common gang-related tattoos are but not limited too:

  • “88” or “14”
  • AB or Clover Leaves
  • Cobwebs
  • 5- Dot Tattoos or the “Quincunx”
  • Three- Dot Tattoo
  • Tear Drop Beneath the Eye
  • Five- or Three- Pointed Crown with Abbreviations LK, ALK, ALKN, or ALKQN


“88” or “14”

In recent years, one of the most popular “gang” tattoos have been those associated with white supremacists.  Members of this group will most likely have the numbers “88” or “14” tattooed on them; the “88” represents the letter “H”, which is the eighth letter in the alphabet.  The “H” is symbolized for “ Heil Hitler. The “14” represents “ Fourteen Words”, by David Lane, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”.  


AB or Clover Leaves

The Aryan Brotherhood uses the “AB” which indicates they are a member of the gang. They also associate with “cloverleaves” (which is a common prison tattoo for members of this gang).



The cobweb tattoo can appear on one’s neck or elbow.  This tattoo represents the beholder’s prison sentence.  However long the cobweb stretches out, is how long that person has been in prison for.

5- Dot Tattoos or the “Quincunx”

Many prison inmates tattoo themselves with the 5- Dots; four of the dots represent the four walls of a prison, and the fifth represents them inside the prison.  This tattoo is seen mostly on the person’s hand near their thumb.


Three- Dot Tattoo

The Three- Dot tattoo is usually found near one’s eye or between their thumb and pointer finger.  This tattoo means “ Mi Vida Loca”; which is translated to, someone who is not a member of a specific gang but will do anything to become a member.


Tear Drop Beneath the Eye

This tattoo is the most common and most recognizable.  The Tear Drop beneath the eye is for members of a gang who have murdered someone.  The more teardrops you see, the more people that member has murdered.


Five- or Three- Pointed Crown with Abbreviations LK, ALK, ALKN, or ALKQN

The Five- or Three- Pointed Crown tattoo is infamous for the Latin Kings gang members.  This tattoo can be seen with many different abbreviations “ LK, ALK, ALKN, or ALKQN”. If a woman has this tattooed on her, chances are she is a victim of sex- trafficking and this tattoo is a cry for help.


These are just some of the most common tattoos that can be affiliated with gang members or violence.  At Stories of the Ink, we advise that anyone who is about to get a tattoo to research their design prior to booking an appointment.  It can be dangerous to walk around with a gang-related tattoo when you are not a member. Ask your artist if your tattoo idea is a “safe tattoo”, or go to our tattoo directory to ask any artist questions.

At Stories of the Ink, we want our fans to be safe, please think before you ink!

If you have any questions about what tattoos are “safe” vs “not”, email us at


Yours, Zoe

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