Spade Tattoos: Meaning & Symbolism

Have you ever seen someone with a spade tattoo?

The popular triangular design is gaining in popularity, but what does it mean?

Contrary to popular belief, the spade tattoo doesn’t have one specific meaning.

Rather, it’s a personal symbol with a range of meanings that can be placed upon the symbol.

Whether you’re thinking about getting a spade tattoo or just curious about what they represent, read on to learn more.

History Of The Spade Symbol

The spade symbol dates back a very long time.

Here is the origin of the spade, along with some notable uses of the symbol throughout history.

Origins Of The Spade Symbol

The spade suit has its roots in medieval Europe, where cards were first introduced. At that time, cards were hand-painted and used for amusement and gambling.

The four suits were based on extant symbols of social classes: Swords represented the nobility, while Staves (clubs) represented the clergy. Cups (hearts) symbolized the bourgeoisie, and Coins (diamonds) stood for the peasantry.

The spade suit likely derived from the black Jack of Clubs, which was one of the more popular cards in early card games.

Over time, the spade suit came to represent death, due to its association with the Black Death pandemic that swept through Europe in the 14th century.

Today, the spade is one of the most recognisable symbols in card games, and continues to be a popular choice for games and collectors alike.

The Spade In American Culture

In American culture, the spade has largely become synonymous with poker and gambling culture.

This is, of course, thanks to the symbol’s association with cards.

The spade and, more specifically, the ace of spades is typically the best and highest ranked card in any given card game.

This fact is especially true in most gambling card games.

Because of this, the spade symbol is now widely associated with not just gambling, but winning big for many Americans.

Usage Of The Spade In War

In the second world war, soldiers in the 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment of the American 101 Airborne Division painted spades on their helmets as a symbol of good luck.

During the Vietnam War, some U.S. troops frequently employed the spade symbol in an attempt to frighten the Viet Cong.

This was done under the false notion that the Vietnamese people viewed the spade as a symbol of death and misfortune.

Thanks to these uses, the spade symbol still holds associations with the military for some individuals.

The Spade In Tarot

Tarot cards are a special type of card deck used for fortune telling.

Unlike traditional decks of cards, each tarot card in a deck is unique and holds a special meaning.

Despite being different than a traditional deck of cards, a tarot deck still uses familiar symbols — such as the spade.

The spade symbol dates back a very long time.

The Many Meanings Of The Spade Tattoo

Because the symbol of the spade has been around for so long and been associated with such an array of cultural elements, it has of course developed quite a few meanings and associations.

This makes it a unique symbol and a great tattoo as one can easily find their own reason to wear a spade.

Here are some common spade tattoo meanings to help you consider getting a spade tattoo.


While the spade suit has been associated with death since the 15th century, its origins are unclear.

One theory is that the black color of the suit symbolized mourning during a time when brightly-colored clothing was more common.

Another possibility is that the spade shape was meant to represent a pointed grave marker.

Whatever the case may be, the spade suit has come to be synonymous with death in cartomancy, a form of fortune-telling that uses playing cards.

In many decks, the spade suit is represented by skulls or other graveyard imagery.

This association reinforces the idea that the spade suit can be interpreted as a sign of impending doom.

For some, this makes the spade suit one of the most fearsome cards in the deck; for others, it simply adds to the suit’s dark allure.


While spades clearly hold some negative connotations, they also hold some positive ones — like luck!

The spade’s association with luck is not a complex one: Spades are known to represent luck thanks to their association with cards and gambling.


Like luck, the spade’s association with power is also derived from its connection to playing cards.

As most are aware, playing cards are organized by hierchy.

In many card games (such as bridge), clubs are considered to be the lowest in value, followed by diamonds, then hearts, and spades at the top.

Because of this, it is easy to see why spades are used to symbolize power, and why people choose them as tattoos.

Romantic Preference

In some circles, a spade tattoo worn by a woman may signify her romantic preference for African American males.

While it is hard to say whether this possible “meaning” behind the spade tattoo should be taken seriously not, it is worth mentioning.

So, women may want to use their own discretion before getting a spade tattoo.

Because the symbol of the spade has been around for so long and been associated with such an array of cultural elements, it has of course developed quite a few meanings and associations.

Spade Tattoo Variations And Their Meanings

Some simple spade tattoos may only feature the symbol of a spade.

Other, more complex designs may add meaning by add more context to the spade design.

Often, this means tattooing a card that the spade is featured on, such as the ace of spades.

Here are some examples of spade tattoo variations that you may wish to consider for your next tattoo.

Ace Of Spades

As previously mentioned, the spade is used to represent power thanks to it’s top ranking among playing cards suits.

Well, the ace of spades doubles down on this as it holds not only the highest suit ranking but also the highest card ranking.

While the ace of spades obviously represents power, it’s association with gambling should be noted.

King Of Spades

The King of Spades is a card found in a standard playing card deck.

The king of spades is often thought to represent a dark or negative force. In some tarot decks, the king of spades is depicted as a grim figure, draped in black and holding a sword.

This image reflects the traditional meaning of the card, which is associated with death, war, and darkness.

However, the king of spades can also represent other forces, such as wisdom, power, and determination.

In many decks, the king of spades is shown as a wise and regal figure, surrounded by symbols of knowledge and strength. In this light, the king of spades represents the highest authority and ultimate power.

Whatever its specific meaning, the king of spades is often seen as a symbol of darkness and negativity.

Queen Of Spades

The Queen of Spades is a card found in a standard playing card deck.

The Queen of Spades is a powerful symbol in both playing cards and literature. In playing cards, she is often seen as one of the the highest ranking card, representing strength, power, and success. 

In literature, the Queen of Spades has been used to represent a number of different things, from death to evil. 

The most common association is with the Grim Reaper, as the two are often seen as being connected. 

The Queen of Spades is also sometimes seen as a symbol of luck, particularly when it comes to gambling. Whatever her meaning, the Queen of Spades is a powerful symbol that is sure to add excitement to any game.

Ace Of Swords

The Ace of Swords is a card found in a traditional tarot card deck.

The Ace of Swords is a powerful symbol of victory, triumph and overcoming obstacles. It suggests that you have the mental clarity and strength to see things through to the end. 

The Ace of Swords can also indicate a time of new beginnings, when you cut away from the past and start afresh. 

The sword itself is a symbol of justice, truth and power, so the Ace of Swords suggests that you are in a strong position to achieve your goals. 

If you are facing a difficult situation, the Ace of Swords suggests that you have what it takes to overcome it.

More complex designs may add meaning by adding more context to the spade design.

Why Spades Make Great Tattoos

Spades are a very popular tattoo design.

And for good reason!

They have both a deep meaning and an appealing design.

Let’s take a deeper look at these symbols make such great tattoos.

Strong Symbolism

When most people start considering their next tattoo, they usually start by looking for something relevant to their life, or current circumstance.

Well, there’s a lot of meaning to choose from when it comes to spades.

Spades represent death, luck, and power.

These broad meanings are relevant to every human in the world, so it’s likely you can find significance and meaning in the spade.


The simplicity of the spade design means it can be dressed up or dressed down.

The symbol of the spade is a strong design that works well by itself.

However, it can easily be incorporated into a larger composition for more visual interest.

The simplicity of the spade design means it can be dressed up or dressed down.

Final Thoughts

So, what does all of this mean for you and your tattoo choice?

If you’re looking to get a spade tattoo, it’s important to first consider the symbolism behind the design.

Whether you choose to go with a traditional or modern interpretation, make sure that the meaning is one that you can stand by for the rest of your life.

With its strong associations to death, luck, and power, the spade tattoo can be a powerful statement about your own personal journey.

Thanks for reading!