Knuckle tattoo

A knuckle tattoo is a specific kind of tattoo that most commonly uses two groups of four-letter words or one eight-letter word.[1] It is not necessarily a prison tattoo, as sometimes believed, but remains an unpopular form of tattoo—alongside hand tattoos in general—due to the difficulty of hiding it in situations such as a formal setting where it would be seen as crass.[2][3] One of the most popular knuckle tattoos reads LOVE / HATE, made famous by Robert Mitchum's character Reverend Harry Powell in the 1955 film The Night of the Hunter.[4][5] Some people also use their knuckles to tattoo drawings and images, sometimes in groups of four, such as the four symbols of a deck of playing cards to signify good luck. Astrological symbols also make for popular designs.


  1. Schonberger, Nick (8 December 2011). "Hate Or Love? The 10 Best Knuckle Tattoos". Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  2. McDermott, Kerry (7 June 2013). "Sacked for her tatt! Department store fires mother, 39, from store cafe because customers complained about her new inking". Daily Mail. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  3. Hudson, Karen L. "Why Many Tattoo Artists Refuse to Tattoo Hands, Feet, and Faces". Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  4. "The Night of the Hunter (1955) - IMDb". Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  5. Richards, Sam (10 January 2014). "A brief history of knuckle tattoos". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  6. "The Blues Brothers (1980) - IMDb". Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  7. "Alphabetical list of Hand or Knuckle Tattoos". Vanishing Tattoo. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  8. "Alphabetical list of Hand or Knuckle Tattoos". Vanishing Tattoo. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
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