26 Lion Tattoo Meanings + Lioness & Lion Cub Tattoos

Lion Tattoo with Rose on Arm
Lion tattoo with rose, Matheu S. Silva.

Are you considering getting a lion tattoo? Or perhaps one of a lioness or a cub? Before you pounce on that idea, you might want to consider the many qualities that lion tattoo meaning encompasses.

In this post, we’ll explore the wild world of lion tattoos and what they signify. Of course, every lion tattoo (as with all tattoos) carries its own distinct story, which will vary from person to person. However, understanding the rich symbolism associated with these magnificent wild felines can bring even deeper meanings to your tattoo, even beyond its artistic appeal.

If you’d like more details on lion symbolism, be sure to check out my comprehensive post about lion meaning and the lion spirit animal.

Lion Tattoo on Leg
Lion tattoo on leg, 3 Rose Tattoo.

What does a lion tattoo symbolize? 

Here are some qualities that a lion tattoo embodies:

1. Lion Tattoo Meaning: Strength and Power

Lion tattoo meaning embodies the qualities of strength and power, which mirrors the lion’s status as the apex predator of their domain. So, a lion tattoo is a beautiful symbol of coming into your own personal power. It can also serve as a reminder that you have the power within you when you need to summon strength, be it mental, emotional, or physical as you face life’s challenges.

2. Courage 

Wild lions, both male and female, are fearless in their domain. So, the lion is a longstanding symbol of courage. (As you might recall, the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz was the atypical lion!) So, a lion tattoo is a powerful symbol that demonstrates you have the courage to face your fears head-on, whatever form they take. 

3. Leadership 

Lions stick together in large family groups called prides. The lion pride is generally led by one king lion, though some large prides have a few kings. The role of the king is to protect the pride, notably the lionesses and cubs.1

So, just as the lion’s role is the leader of their pride, a lion tattoo embodies the essence of leadership. Thus, your lion tattoo signifies taking charge, embracing responsibility, and leading from the front. It also symbolizes the highest qualities of leadership, including serving, protecting, and leading by example.

4. Majesty

Lion Tattoo Meaning Majesty
Lioness tattoo, J Grizzinkz.

Much like the lion’s status in the wild, a lion tattoo is a symbol of majesty. The lion is revered for their regal presence and distinctive mane, which can be compared to a crown, a mantle collar, or even a halo. Indeed, this magnificent feature sets the lion apart, signifying beauty, uniqueness, authority, and an air of royalty.

So, a lion tattoo is a powerful symbol for letting your own majesty shine forth. Even on a spiritual level, your majesty is a testament to your higher self and your connection to your Higher Power.

5. Wealth and Prestige

Lions, with their golden color and opulent manes, are also symbols of wealth and prestige. It’s no surprise that people born under the zodiac sign of Leo are said to value affluence and luxuriousness. So, a lion tattoo exudes an aura of privilege and power. It’s an indelible reminder to pursue your goals with a big picture vision and fierce determination.

6. Lion Tattoo Meaning: Protection

Lion and Cub Tattoo Arm
Lion and cub tattoo, Mono Kr.

In many cultures, lions are viewed as protective guardians. The lion’s fierceness, imposing presence, and natural instincts when it comes to safeguarding their territory and their loved ones make them a natural emblem of protection. 

Thus, lion tattoo meaning encompasses the idea of protecting not only those you love but also yourself and your personal boundaries. 

7. Family 

As mentioned above, lions live in large family groups called prides, where each member takes part in ensuring the pride’s well-being and cohesion. In this way, a lion tattoo represents the importance of family bonds, unity, and even community. So, your lion tattoo can be a testament to your own pride in and devotion to your family, a close group of friends, or a special community.

8. Confidence 

Lion Tattoo Sleeve
Lion tattoo sleeve, Billy Mizejewski.

It’s no coincidence that a family of lions is called a pride. These majestic creatures exude confidence. Indeed, the lion’s demeanor oozes self-assurance. So, a lion tattoo is a powerful symbol for coming into your own and having the wherewithal to hold your head high and face challenges with an unwavering belief in yourself. 

9. The Sun 

The lion’s golden mane resembles the sun’s radiant rays. In addition, these wild cats make their natural home in Africa’s sunny savannas. So, your lion tattoo is a fitting symbol for the sun and all that it embodies. For example, both lions and the sun are potent symbols of life and energy.

So, a lion tattoo can also represent something that or someone who is a central force in your life. In essence, your lion tattoo can symbolize the forces at work in your life that illuminate your path.

10. The Zodiac Sign of Leo

Lion Tattoo Leo Zodiac Sign
Lion tattoo Leo zodiac sign, Mooody Ink.

The lion also represents the western zodiac sign of Leo whose zodiac dates take place in the height of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. The word leo means lion in Latin, yet it is also associated with the concept of a king. So, a lion tattoo is the perfect symbol for those born in the sign of Leo or those who love a Leo.

11. Jesus Christ, the Lion of Judah

Lion of Judah Tattoo on Arm
Lion of Judah tattoo, Kundalini Ink.

A lion tattoo is also a symbol for Jesus, who is sometimes referred to as the Lion of Judah, or the King of the Jews. For example, In the Bible, Revelation 5:55 says, “Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’”2

Winged Lion Tattoo Meaning

Winged Lion Tattoo
Winged Lion Tattoo, Maddie Morrill Art.

12. The Lion of St. Mark

As I wrote about in my post in lion symbolism and mythology, winged lions are mythical beasts that appeared in the mythologies of a few different ancient cultures, including Sumeria. While their meanings are somewhat varied and mysterious, there is one well-known winged lion that has positive associations.

Known as the Lion of St. Mark, the creature came to Jesus’ apostle Mark in a dream. In the dream, the winged lion offered comfort and protection to Mark so that he could take refuge and sleep peacefully after an arduous journey at sea.

Lioness Tattoo Meanings

Lioness Tattoo on Leg
Lioness tattoo, Paul Monk Tattoos.

Along with the symbolic meanings of the lion, a lioness tattoo has some additional associations. Here are some examples:

13. Female Power

A lioness tattoo embodies the essences of female power. In lion prides, it’s the lionesses who do most of the hunting to feed their family. The lioness is every bit as fierce and protective as her male counterpart. So, a lioness tattoo is a beautiful symbol of female empowerment, beauty, and resilience.

14. The Provider

As mentioned above, it’s the lionesses who are the fierce hunters in the pride, responsible for feeding their cubs and extended family.

So, a lioness tattoo is a wonderful symbol for the female as provider. This could mean in the capacity of creating abundance or it could also mean being a life-giving caretaker or even a creative idea-generator.

15. Divine Sisterhood 

Lionesses work together within the pride structure when hunting and caring for the cubs. They form very close bonds with their fellow lionesses. So, a lioness tattoo is a beautiful symbol of the bond between women and of women supporting each other. Sometimes this is referred to as the divine sisterhood.

16. Lioness Tattoo Meaning: Maternal Instincts 

Lionesses are also known for their strong maternal instincts and protective natures when it comes to guarding their cubs. So, a lioness tattoo is also a beautiful symbol of maternal instincts, including nurturing, protectiveness, motherhood, and love.

17. Loyalty

As they are devoted mothers and fierce protectors of their pride, lionesses also symbolize loyalty and a strong sense of responsibility towards their loved ones. Thus, your lioness tattoo can represent your own sense of loyalty and devotion to those you love.

18. Dignity

As they are symbols of majesty, the lioness also embodies the quality of dignity. So, a lioness tattoo is a beautiful symbol for women to hold their heads high no matter how others treat them. A lioness tattoo says, “No one can take away my dignity.”

Lion Cub Tattoo Meanings

Lion Cub Tattoo on Arm
Lion cub tattoo, Anastasia Cherryy.

While they are the pint-sized versions of their majestic adult counterparts, lion cubs carry the same level of symbolic gravitas as their older peers, plus a few extra meanings. 

19. Adorableness

Of course, lion cubs are adorable. Thus, a lion cub tattoo makes for an endearing symbol of your own wild kitten-like qualities.

20. Innocence 

A lion cub tattoo also symbolizes innocence, playfulness, and purity of heart.

21. Lion Cub Tattoo Meaning: Youthful Vitality

Lions have golden fur that seems to radiate sunlight. Thus, a lion cub tattoo embodies youthful energy, vitality, and a zest for life.

22. Fresh Starts

As the sun rises each day, a young lion also represents fresh starts and new beginnings. So, your lion club tattoo can be an apt symbol that represents your courage and confidence about a new endeavor while at the same time acknowledging that you are in the beginning stages of the journey.

23. Curiosity and Exploration

Lion cubs are naturally curious and they love to explore or test things. Thus, a lion cub tattoo is a positive symbol for having a sense of curiosity, adventure, and a desire to discover and learn.

24. Potential 

Lion Cubs and Lioness Tattoo on Arm
Lioness and lion cubs tattoo, Mike Tanis.

The adult lion is such a magnificent animal that they make a stark contrast to a clumsy and cuddly cub. However, within each lion cub is the raw potential to become all that the almighty lion is.

Thus, a lion cub tattoo is a testament to your belief in your own potential, or that of someone you love, or even a new enterprise. Where others might see a cute little cub, you see greatness. 

25. Lion Cub Tattoo Meaning: Happiness

As lions represent sunshine and confidence, a lion cub tattoo is also a sweet symbol of optimism and happiness. Your lion cub tattoo exudes hope for the future, curiosity about what’s around the next corner, and a positive attitude.

26. Affection

While they can be quite terrifying, lions are also known to be incredibly affectionate, especially with their cubs. So, a lion cub tattoo can symbolize your love and affection for the special people and pets in your life. 


In summary, lion tattoo meaning encompasses a variety of powerful and positive associations. While your lion tattoo may be beautiful in and of itself, knowing the wonderful qualities that these wild cats embody brings even deeper meaning to the art on your skin.

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Kristen M. Stanton

Hello. Thanks for visiting UniGuide. My name is Kristen and I started UniGuide as a tribute to nature, animals, and spiritual exploration. I hope you enjoy your experience here!