Skeleton Boy

I have no idea what this one is supposed to be:

This Hebrew tattoo basically spells out: "Skeleton from Isdael", but without the spaces.

Did he mean "Skeleton from Israel"? That could somewhat explain why the Hebrew language was used. However, just by looking at his arm you can see this guy is no skeleton!

Ideas, anyone? I would love to know just what this mangled Hebrew tattoo is all about.

Burnt Semolina Boys

Check out these two crispy-fried victims. These guys went in for matching spiritual tattoos. Their tattoos were supposed to say "Forgiven" in Hebrew...

Instead, the tattoos spell "Semolina", you know, the flour-like stuff that's used to make a sort of porridge. Burnt porridge from the looks of it.

How did that happen? Well, the boys meant to have the Hebrew word "Salach" which doesn't mean "Forgiven" anyway, it actually means "Forgave".

However, their intentions were fouled by the similarity of the Hebrew letters Het and Tav.

And so, "Salach" turned into "Solet" which means Semolina - a simple, totally non-spiritual food. It can also be read as a misspelled "Salat", which means Salad in Hebrew.

Actually, there's a good reason so many "Forgiven" tattoos go wrong. It simply isn't as straightforward a concept in Hebrew as it is in English. You can see a previous post about "Forgiven" tattoos. Different ways to write it are discussed both in the post and in the comments.

Currently I prefer (and suggest) the following form: "Nimchalti" - "I was Forgiven" for those of you who'd like to have it as a Hebrew tattoo. It works for both genders and sounds more personal than the other options.

Shabbat Special: The "Not Hebrew" Tattoos

Got good Hebrew tattoos? Send them in! I'm in a great lack of Good Hebrew Tattoos! Please mail your stuff to

Today we will explore a very disturbing way in which Hebrew tattoos can (and do) go wrong. The "Not Hebrew" usually happens when a greedy so-called Tattoo Artist is willing to do anything for a quick buck, even compose a tattoo in a foreign language he doesn't know at all.

Check out the following masterpiece for example. The victim is sure he's walking around with his loved one's name in Hebrew on his arm...

Of course, this is not Hebrew at all. It looks a little bit like Arabic, but it is so sloppy looking that I'm willing to bet it's not real Arabic either.

Now this girl, she's sure her arm spells out some kind of prayer in Hebrew...

The letters of this tattoo do look a little bit like Hebrew, but not close enough! Is this even a real language? I never seen anything like it before...

And the last one, this guy thinks his arm has the word "Strength" in Hebrew...

The tattoo of course, spells no such thing. Not in Hebrew at least. This actually looks like Sanskrit to me. I wouldn't hold my breath for correctness, though.

This Too Shall Pass

According to Wikipedia, "This Too Shall Pass" is an expression taken from a Jewish folktale about King Solomon. To this guy, apparently, it means a lot, as he decided to tattoo the expression in Hebrew, on his ribs.

I find it a bit ironic that a permanent tattoo says "This Too Shall Pass". Had it been correct, I might have found it a bit clever too.

In any case, while the spelling on this Hebrew tattoo is fine, there is one big flaw - it lacks spacing between the words of the expression.

See, "This Too Shall Pass" reads in Hebrew as "Gam Zeh Ya'avor" - 3 words. There should be spaces between the three words. Like this:

Or like on this Hebrew T-Shirt:

This too shall pass, Hebrew T-Shirt

Yes, boys and girls. It might come as a shock, but the Hebrew language utilizes the space. Just like English. Don't forget to use it!

The Marked Sisters

Today's bad Hebrew tattoos feature a special bond - sisterhood. These two ladies decided to let everyone know that yes, they are in fact sisters.

Is there a better way to say "Sisters" than to spell it out on your skin in a foreign language?

The answer is yes, there probably is. There simply must be a better way to celebrate your sibling bonds than by marking your skin with misspelled Hebrew tattoos.

Those two tattoos don't say "Sisters" (in Hebrew: Achaiot), not even close. They can, however, be read as either "She was late" (Echra) or "Backwards" (Achora).

This is how you write "Sister" in Hebrew. You can see that it's somewhat similar to the tattoos above (except two letters don't match).

And this is how you write "Sisters", plural, in Hebrew. That looks very little like what the victims got inked.

The Wonky Love Triangle

Today's victim went for the ever popular "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine", from Solomon's Song of Songs. You know, just like David Beckham...

We've already established in Beckham's case that this expression is unsuitable for guys, as it speaks of a male lover. But this guy went even further - he managed to misspell it terribly.

There are three incorrect letters in this tattoo, the first establishes a love triangle between his father, his male beloved and himself. The other two, mercifully, render this tattoo almost incomprehensible.

Really! This is pretty much the most common Hebrew tattoo phrase. It can be Googled-up in a second. How on earth can you get it wrong?

This is how "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine" should be properly written in Hebrew:

Remember, in Hebrew lettering every stroke counts, and many letters look similar. If two letters appear just a little bit different, there's a good chance they are actually two different letters.

Shabbat Special: The Good, The Bad and The Automatic

In the Good Tattoo corner today, we have this powerful looking, tribal, Hebrew Chai (life) tattoo. I like how integrated and fitting the Chai looks in this design. Two thumbs up!

And in the corner of the weird, we have this:

The tattoo correctly says "Shame" and "Disgrace" in Hebrew. This girl obviously thinks very highly of herself.

And this, this is why you shouldn't put your faith in automatic translations with something as permanent as your tattoo:

This advert for offers help in several languages. The Hebrew, of course, is spelled backwards. Do you really want this kind of help?

Have a Hebrew tattoo that fits the bill for Shabbat Special? Send it in to: to be featured here next week!

Dream of Changing Lands

Sometimes Hebrew tattoos can be very weird. When your Hebrew tattoo is designed by a Korean tattoo artist, those chances soar sky high.

This lovely piece says, when you read it backwards and ignore final-form letters in mid word: The truth and lands of change on I'll dream. Bad bad bad!

Your guess is as good as mine as to what this was actually supposed to mean...

This particular Korean artist has been featured here twice before. The first time, he defined Music. Another time, he wrote a love letter. Yes, this guy is still at large, buyers beware!

Bad Purity, Good Furniture

Like so many others in touch with their inner spirituality, this girl decided to get a Hebrew tattoo. The tattoo was supposed to say "Purity" in Hebrew...

And just like everyone else's, her Hebrew tattoo was rendered backwards.

However, this victim's spiritual mistake turned slightly unusual results. This particular reversed tattoo actually has a meaning of its own! Several meanings, even.

The intended word "Purity" is pronounced "Tohar" in Hebrew. Reversed, it can be read as "Rihut", which means "Furniture" or "Rahut" - the male form of "Fluent".

Unlucky? Sure. But at least it can be salvaged. If the girl adds the letter "He" to the left of her tattoo, she'll have the female form of "Fluent", which is a perfectly acceptable Hebrew tattoo, boasting her great linguistic skills. A tiny bit ironic maybe, but it beats adding the Hebrew word for "Garden", thus turning the tattoo into "Garden Furniture" and opening a new business.

I'm sure this girl feels lucky for this opportunity to expand her horizons or launch a brand new career. Really, it could be a lot worse.

And this is how "Purity" is correctly written in Hebrew, from right to left, the way it should be:

Shabbat Special: Hope, Dad, Double Mom

For today's Shabbat Special, I bring you more good Hebrew tattoos!

Look at the Hebrew tattoo below, sent in by Reut. A very pretty and cheery design, integrating the Hebrew word "Tikva" - Which in English means Hope.

Picture belongs to the hebrew-tattoo facebook group

And look at this, a Hamsa tattoo sent in by Dafna. The hand looks quite realistic, and very impressive! The Hebrew word on the three middle fingers says "Aba", which means Dad.

And we'll wrap it up with something a little different. A guy who REALLY loves his mother, and is not shy about it.

This ended up in Shabbat Special, because well, the Hebrew is completely correct. It says "I love my mother" once on each leg!

Two questions arise: You love your Mom, but does Mom love this tattoo? Also, doesn't Dad deserve a leg too?

Greater Things Go Greatly Wrong

Today I bring you something fresh from the oven, this disaster of a Hebrew tattoo was just inked last week!

Oh, but whatever does it say?

The guy meant his Hebrew tattoo to say "Greater Things", but he probably got his translation from either an online translator or his worst enemy. This actually says "Her Rabi Had Given" or maybe "She-Rabi Nathan".

You can kind of see how it got there. The first word has to do with magnitude, even if not in the way the victim meant, while the second word means "given", and you can give things... But really, this Hebrew tattoo is a big, silly mess.

Yes, and this is how you properly write "Greater Things" in Hebrew, even if it doesn't quite have the same flair that the expression implies in its English form:

Do I really need to repeat the warning again? I guess I do.

Never use an online translator when translating an expression from English to Hebrew. You might correctly translate a single word, but never an expression. It's nearly impossible to get right!

Believe in Dictionaries (But Only to a Degree)

Does looking up the word for your Hebrew tattoo, in a dictionary, sounds like a good idea? Today's victim apparently thought so...

The girl wanted a Hebrew tattoo saying a very spiritual "believe". The resulting tattoo actually does say "believe", but it also has several extras, attached for free.

Look at the right part of the tattoo, the letter Pe in parentheses. This is the dictionary's shorthand, indicating a verb. Now look at the leftmost character of the tattoo... What do we have there, could it be an unmatched random parenthesis? Oh yeah. However did it get there?

Without all the special extras, the Hebrew tattoo saying "Believe" (as in "to believe") should look like this:

If you want your "Believe" as an order (believe!), that would be a little bit different.

The lesson of this little story should be clear - Dictionaries are alright for getting your tattoo material, but some good judgment should be applied as well. Also, if something looks like a punctuation mark - it most likely isn't an unknown ancient symbol.