Hourglass Tattoo Meaning & Symbolism: A Complete Guide

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Hourglass tattoos are popular for a reason: they look amazing and have symbolism that is both rich and varied. 

Whether you’re looking to get one for yourself or are just curious about what they mean, read on for all you need to know about the hourglass clock tattoos!

History of the hourglass

The hourglass is one of the oldest timekeeping devices in the world, predating both clocks and watches. Its design is simple but effective, using two glass bulbs connected by a narrow neck to measure time. When the top bulb is filled with sand, it slowly falls through the neck and into the bottom bulb, creating a measurable delay.

Hourglasses were first used by the ancient Egyptians, who used them to time religious ceremonies. They also found other uses for them, such as counting how long a prisoner had been in jail or timing how long a pregnant woman had to stay in bed. 

Hourglasses were later adopted by the Greeks and Romans, who used them for similar purposes. Eventually they became widespread throughout Europe and China, where they were used to give speeches and even to measure the water supply for elaborate fountains.

In mid-15th century Italy, two brothers started an engineering revolution that would lead to the creation of hourglass’s successor: the mechanical clock.

Today the hourglass has mostly become a novelty item, though its iconic shape is still frequently seen on wristwatches and other modern timepieces.

hourglass tattoo meaning

Hourglass Tattoo Meaning & Symbolism

Hourglass tattoos can represent a variety of different things, depending on the person’s personal beliefs and values. Here are some of the most common meanings associated with hourglass tattoos:


The most obvious interpretation of an hourglass tattoo is that it represents time. This can be interpreted in many ways, such as the fleeting nature of life, the importance of making the most of every moment, or the inevitability of death.


In some cultures, the hourglass is seen as a symbol of fertility. This may be due to its shape, which resembles a pregnant woman’s womb, or because it is often used to time childbirth.


The flowing sand in an hourglass is also often seen as a symbol of prosperity. This may be because it represents the passage of time, which is often associated with growth and progress.


Hourglass tattoos can also be interpreted as symbols of transition, whether it’s from one stage of life to another, from one era to another, or from one world to another. They can represent change, progress, and the journey from one point to another.  

Fleeting nature of life

As mentioned earlier, one of the most common interpretations of hourglass tattoos is that they represent the fleeting nature of life. This can be seen as a negative thing, but it can also be viewed as a reminder to make the most of every moment and to live life to the fullest.

hourglass tattoo meaning

Hourglass tattoo ideas

There is a huge range of hourglass tattoo designs available, so finding the right one is only half the battle. The most important thing to remember when choosing hourglass clock designs is that they should suit your personal tastes and preferences. Here are some ideas to help get you started:

  • If you want a simple and understated hourglass tattoo, consider getting a small, minimalist design on your wrist or ankle.
  • If you want to commemorate a special time in your life, consider getting an hourglass tattoo with the date of that event inscribed on it – a broken hourglass tattoo could be appropriate here
  • If you’re looking for a more symbolic interpretation, consider getting an hourglass tattoo with other imagery that represents time, such as clocks, calendars, or an hourglass with wings tattoo.
  • If you want a really eye-catching tattoo, consider opting for an intricately designed hourglass in bright colors. This makes for a unique women’s hourglass tattoo.
  • Finally, if you’re looking for a unique and unconventional take on the hourglass tattoo, consider getting one with a steampunk aesthetic, which is a popular hourglass tattoo for guys

No matter what design you choose, make sure you take the time to find an artist who can create a custom piece that’s perfect for you.

In Conclusion

The hourglass is one of the oldest and most iconic timekeeping devices in the world. Though it’s no longer used as a timekeeping device, the hourglass remains one of the most popular tattoo designs in the world today due to its eye-catching symbolism and timeless appeal. It makes a fantastic object for a manly or girly hourglass tattoo.

If you’re considering getting an hourglass tattoo, be sure to do your research and find an artist who can create a unique design that’s perfect for you. 

Thanks for reading!

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