Carpe Diem Tattoo Meaning, Designs & Ideas

A Carpe Diem tattoo typically symbolizes a person’s desire to live their life in the present moment and not worry about what happened in the past or what may happen in the future. This tattoo represents an enthusiasm for life, a positive outlook, and a sense of courage.

In this article, we’ll explore the meaning of a Carpe Diem tattoo.

What Does Carpe Diem Mean?

The phrase Carpe Diem is a Latin expression that is usually translated to mean “seize the day.” The expression comes from the Odes, which are a collection of poems written by Horace. A Roman author, Horace wrote poetry in the first century BCE.

It is believed that a more literal translation of the expression Carpe Diem would be translated as “pluck the day,” however, this was changed to “seize the day” at some point which became more popular. To seize the day is to take advantage of what life has to offer and to enjoy the present moment. 

This phrase became more popular after the 1989 film Dead Poets Society was released. Robin Williams, who played an English teacher, uses the expression when speaking with his students. While showing them photographs of former students who attended the school, he encourages them to make the most of their lives while they are able to.

Carpe Diem Tattoos

Phrases and expressions are very popular choices for tattoos and Carpe Diem is a common option. There is a wide range of styles and fonts that are used in these tattoos. Some use cursive writing, including those based on a person’s own handwriting or the writing of a loved one. Others use print or block script to write the phrase.

Carpe Diem tattoos can be very small, such as one seen on the foot. They can also be quite large, for example, a piece that covers the upper back. Commonly a Carpe Diem tattoo will be somewhere in between those sizes. Typical locations include the arm, collarbone, and the back of the neck.

Men and women both tend to get this tattoo, though they choose different styles. Men tend to opt for a larger block script, while women usually choose a smaller tattoo in cursive.

Many Carpe Diem tattoos feature just the phrase itself but some incorporate other images. A clock or hourglass is sometimes combined with the expression to illustrate that tomorrow is not guaranteed to us and that we should make the most of today. Other tattoos may have a bird, butterfly, or flower accompanying the phrase

Positive Outlook

A Carpe Diem tattoo can represent a person’s positive outlook on life. This type of person focuses on the bright side of things and tends to see the cup as half full. 

Even in unfortunate situations, they are able to find something to be thankful for or happy about. For example, if they were to lose their job, they may look at it as an opportunity to try something new.

An individual who practices positive thinking is able to stay hopeful about life and the future. They have an enthusiasm for being alive and for enjoying all that life has to offer. These people are often the first ones to suggest get-togethers and gatherings with friends and family and are happy to celebrate even the smallest occasion. 


Another interpretation of the Carpe Diem tattoo can be that it expresses a person’s confidence. Someone who is going to seize the day is confident that the day will hold something worthwhile for them. In order to live each day to the fullest, a person must believe that there are people, places, and things to enjoy in the world.

A person who has a Carpe Diem tattoo is bold, not shy. They do not shrink away from all that life has to offer them–instead, they seek it out. 

Meaning and Purpose

The Carpe Diem tattoo can also be a way of expressing one’s desire to live with purpose and meaning. For these individuals, seizing the day means spending their time doing what they were meant to do. These people have spent time considering what their purpose or calling in life is and have set out to fulfill it.

For some people, finding meaning is about using their skills and abilities to improve the lives of those in their community. Others find meaning by spending time in nature and connecting with the environment and with wildlife. However someone defines purpose in their life, a Carpe Diem tattoo shows that they are not wasting the time they have been given.


A person might choose a Carpe Diem tattoo as a way to show their courage or in hopes that it will help them become braver. In order to seize the day a person has to be a little bit fearless, to embrace what is coming without knowing what it entails. Learning to be courageous is a big part of living in the moment.

Someone with this tattoo may view seizing the day as an act of bravery. Perhaps they have been relatively timid or isolated themselves up until this point and now they are trying to put themselves out there and see what life has to offer them. They are taking a risk by leaving their comfort zone and expanding their horizons.

No Regrets

A Carpe Diem tattoo can be a person’s way of saying that they are choosing to live life with no regrets. This is similar to the more recent expression “YOLO” or “You only live once.” Instead of focusing on what happened in the past or worrying about what might happen down the road, these people opt to focus on today.

A person who lives without regrets makes choices based on what feels right for them at the moment. They don’t spend time fretting about potential repercussions or unforeseen consequences. For these people, seizing the day means they put everything they have into whatever they are doing. They give it their all and hope for the best.

Featured image by Gelial, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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