The Embarrassment of a Mistranslated Tattoo

Have you ever gone on holiday and had such a magical time you’ve wanted a permanent reminder of it? Holiday tattoos are a common and popular choice, especially among young people. They can feel extra exotic if they feature the native language of the destination you visit but unless you are fluent in that language, this comes with a risk.

Let us ask you a question: Does your Chinese symbol mean what you think? If not, we can help! Use laser tattoo removal to get rid of your embarrassing mistranslated tattoo.

You are not alone

If you have an unwanted tattoo that you discovered was not translated correctly, you are not alone. Any tattoo removal clinic will tell you that not a week passes without a client requesting removal. More often than not, it’s because the person found out that their foreign language tattoo is mistranslated and doesn’t mean what they thought it meant.

Even rich celebrities aren’t immune to embarrassing tattoo mistakes and end up at the tattoo removal clinic. Take the case of football legend David Beckham who wanted to have his wife’s name, Victoria, inked on his forearm in Hindi as he felt that having it in English would be too “tacky.” Unfortunately, his tattoo artist added an extra “h” and spelt the name as "Vihctoria”. The script may have been beautiful, but the mistake ruined the whole thing.

Recently, sensational pop star Ariana Grande suffered some embarrassing moments when her Japanese tattoo which she thought meant 7 Rings – the title of one of her songs- turned out to mean a certain barbeque grill. Her tattoo artist did not add one symbol and later attempts to correct it made it even worse.

Another Turkish reality star also suffered a similar embarrassment when she had a popular Turkish phrase, “Only God can judge my mistakes and truths” translated to English. Instead, her weighty Turkish phrase was wrongly translated to “I can judge a single god with my wrongs and wrongs”. What’s worse is she only realised her mistake when she became a laughingstock across social media.

Context is everything

Some quick online translation service can not solve the complexities of all languages with a word-for-word translation. Unfortunately, you can lose context and end up with some nonsensical words. A good example is the use of idioms and phrases. More often than not, they lose their meaning when they are translated word for word instead of looking for their equivalent.

The same happens when using a chart at the tattoo shop. While these charts can help give you a general idea of what you think you want, it’s difficult to capture an entire language in all its complexities in a few pages. Even if your tattoo artist gets the meaning, foreign languages such as Chinese are so complex that a little shake while inking can alter the meaning of the symbol.

Even worse, there are different dialects, and what you think are some words of wisdom may be something else entirely when your artist doesn’t capture the symbols accurately. Even a missed symbol or mistakenly adding an extra character can give you a meaningless tattoo.

Think before you ink

While it’s easy to get caught up in the moment, tattoo removal experts suggest that you think before you ink to minimise chances of making embarrassing tattoo mistakes. At the very least, look for a credible online translation service that goes beyond the face-value meaning. If you can, have a friend who speaks the language correctly translate the words before having them permanently inked on your skin. If you have already made one or two embarrassing tattoo mistakes, we can still help.

We can help

Tattoo removal is no longer prohibitive. We can help you get rid of your embarrassing tattoo!



020 7031 3471


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NAAMA Studios Ltd. is a limited company registered in England and Wales under company number 11953457.

Claims based on (1) a clinical study in which more than 1,000 treatments were conducted across 58 study participants, (2) 150+ samples of treated tattoos and skin as reviewed by independent dermatologists.

Individual results may vary.