Scythe Tattoo Meaning

Choosing a tattoo is a deeply personal decision, and most people choose an image that has a specific meaning to them. Some images are surprising, and their meanings may be dark and unexpected. A few people use images traditionally associated with uncomfortable meanings to portray a different symbolism that they find uplifting. A scythe is a tattoo image that can have different meanings, apart from the traditional associations.

Scythe tattoos are most commonly associated with death and the Grim Reaper. Some people use the death image positively, while others may use it to intimidate people. Scythe tattoos can also represent a harvest. This may be when a person experiences good fortune or their lives change.

A scythe tattoo is seldom described as a pretty tattoo. The image can be paired with different images that change the meaning.

What Is the Most Common Meaning Of A Scythe Tattoo?

A scythe is a long, curved metal blade attached to a wooden handle that may be curved or straight. It was used before farming mechanization to cut the harvest.

The most common association of a scythe is with the Grim Reaper, a hooded skeletal figure that carries a long-handled scythe. The Grim Reaper came about during the fourteenth century when the world was grappling with the Black Death caused by the Bubonic Plague.

The plague killed 25 million people, but some researchers feel the death count may have been as high as 75 million. Death was everywhere, with corpses lying in heaps as authorities tried to keep up with disposing of them.

The figure of the Grim Reaper walking among people, cutting them down like wheat, and harvesting their souls was born out of this scary period of history.

In gangs and the criminal world, a tattoo of a scythe held by a Grim Reaper may be just as sinister as the original fourteenth-century image. The wearer of such a tattoo may use it to intimidate people and force them to comply with a gang’s demands.

The tattoo may also be chosen by unrepentant murderers and psychopaths proud of their cruelty and crimes.

Is There A Positive Meaning To A Grim Reaper Scythe Tattoo?

Although the Grim Reaper holding a scythe tattoo indicates death, some people may choose it to show that they have cheated death by surviving a deadly illness or life-threatening injury. 

Tattoos with this meaning may be accompanied by a date, showing when the person survived death. In some, the scythe may be shown with an image of a coffin or the Grim Reaper and a coffin with the appropriate date.

Some people choose to couple a scythe tattoo with death images to show that they have overcome their fear of death. Death is inevitable for all people, but some have a crippling fear of it.

Working through this fear in therapy or other means may result in the person proudly displaying a scythe tattoo with death connotations to show they are no longer scared.

People may also use a scythe tattoo indicating death to remind themselves that death is unpredictable. Every moment of life should be cherished and enjoyed as we can never tell when death may take a beloved person or your life may be taken.

Scythe Tattoos Symbolize An Ending

Scythes tattoos may be used by people that want to indicate the end of something. It may be the end of a bad part of their lives. Many people must deal with addictions that ruin their lives. A scythe may symbolize that their addiction is ended.

Addicts of any kind face ongoing struggles as they choose every day to resist the temptation of their addiction. A visual symbol on their arm or hand reminds them that they have finished with those bad choices. It helps to reinforce their determination to succeed.

Scythe tattoos may also show an ending to abusive relationships. Victims of abuse can be so undermined by their abusers that it is hard for them to believe that the abuse is finished. A scythe tattoo underlines the fact that they are free from abuse – it is ended.

A Scythe Tattoo Can Represent A Harvest

 In ancient times scythes were essential tools for cutting the crop and gathering the harvest. This was a time of celebration as people enjoyed the fruit of their hard work during spring and summer.

A scythe tattoo may be used by people who want to show they are thankful for their blessings. The scythe is often paired with flowers such as roses or even a sheaf of wheat.

Richly colored tattoos of scythes with various fruit are chosen by people showing they are enjoying the natural bounty life offers.     

Scythe Tattoos Demonstrate Time Passing

The scythe tattoo represents the harvest that occurs during autumn. Autumn and scythes are, therefore, representative of the yearly cycle where plants go to rest or die during winter. 

This progression of time is predictable but also brings with it the promise of new seasons.

Scythe tattoos may sometimes be inked with an image of a clock to demonstrate the passing of time. People going through changes in life, such as children leaving home, may choose these tattoos.

Scythe Tattoos Symbolize A Cycle

As mentioned before, scythes show the end of a season. The promise is that there is a new season of growth coming. The scythe may be entwined with a tree or rose in this symbolism.

Roses symbolize love and fertility, and combined with a scythe; they show that the season has changed to a new one of joy and hope.

A scythe tattoo with a rising sun shows that the dark seasons end and the new light will dawn, giving hope to people to keep pressing forwards through life’s obstacles.


Although scythes may initially seem like a completely negative image to choose, they can represent positive aspects of life. Survivors and people who have overcome difficult times can mark their victory by choosing a scythe tattoo. Their imagery of the dependable cycles in life brings comfort to many people.

Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you

working on tattoo at my studio
Working at the studio on one of my projects

Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.

Design and tattoo ideas

For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):

Tattoo meaning

If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).

Tattoo aftercare

The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):


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