People Fluent In Chinese & Japanese Share The Dumbest Tattoo Translations They've Seen On People


Have drunk were you that night?

Body art is beautiful. Over the course of the last few decades tattoos have become an obsession. There are even popular reality shows about tat artists. There are also world renowned body painters. People are so precise about the artistry that their body will carry... well most people. There are still plenty drunk baffoons who wonder into a tattoo parlor thinking they're gonna get tatted up with wisdom from another culture and it'll be so cool. But really they didn't do the research and they're just dumb.

Redditor u/TheCorruptedBit wanted some people to tell us what "wisdom" some of us are wearing by asking.... People who understand Chinese/Japanese, what's the dumbest thing you've seen tattooed on someone?


a big muscley tough looking guy with "accommodation" written in big kanji down his bicep.

Later I considered that maybe he was a property developer tho... marinegeo

That's funny because I work in Education and the word "accomodation(s)" means making special concessions for a student during an exam or lesson on the basis of a professional diagnosis of mental retardation, dyslexia or other processing/developmental issue. So he's basically advertising that he has issues with information and needs extra help. igneousink

"pig princess."


Not my story but a friend of mine.

She had a classmate in college with a kanji tattoo, confused she asked her what it meant.

"High princess."

Turns out it actually said "pig princess." whereegosdare84

'faith' or 'love'... or something...

I have 'Monkey' on my wrist because that's my Chinese zodiac. I know it's accurate because a Chinese guy asked me if I knew what it meant, and I'm sure he thought I would say 'faith' or 'love' or something, so when I said 'monkey' he looked so relieved. His friend was like 'you have GOT to stop doing that!' Cdnteacher92


"Kitchen" - confused the kanji, what he wanted I have no idea. "Fat man" - he wanted "big guy" (tough guy?) apparently.

Ariana Grande's hand tattoo mix up was a huge deal in Japanese media for a while too. oikorapunk

机 ?


机 on his fist. I haven't taken Chinese but in Japanese it means 'desk'. feverishdodo

In Chinese it's the simplified version of 機. I don't think it means anything on its own.

EDIT: I think I can see what the tattoo was going for.

There's an urban myth that "the Chinese have the same word for crisis and opportunity". It comes down to this character - 機 in Traditional or 机 in Simplified - which appears in both of the words 危機/危机 (crisis) and 機会/机会 (opportunity).

As others have pointed out, it's also in a lot of words, usually related to mechanics of some kind, but also time, mood, movement, etc. The character's rough semantic meaning is something like 'hinge', but no Chinese or Japanese speaker would get much meaning from it on its own.

So it could be that the tattoo asked for this word that meant both crisis and opportunity, and the poor tattooist obliged in the best way they could. Berandiepe

"Who's Tomokazu?"

I once had a roommate placed with me in the apartment our company ran for us here in Japan. He was loud, obnoxious, and I generally didn't get on well with him. But, you try to get along, so we'd go to the izakaya up the street from time to time with other friends to drink and have a good time. The owners were this wonderful old Japanese couple who loved having all these weird gaijin come and entertain the locals.

Anyway, somehow we get talking about tattoos and the roommate is showing his off. He then says that he got the kanji for "friendship" (友) and "peace" (和) tattooed on his back and lifts his shirt to show everyone. There's a bit of silence, broken by someone asking, "Who's Tomokazu?"

What Roommate didn't know, of course, was that those two kanji in that order was a man's name.

He reacted well, though, taking a beat and then announcing, "I'M TOMOKAZU!" which became a running joke while he was there. MShades

Fear Itself. 

Gets a tattoo in google translate Japanese thinking it says "fear no one" but it really means "I fear everyone." Krusty_Krab_Pizza_

"I fear no man, but that thing... It scares me." noelg1998

Not a Life. 

I used to live in China and it was considered 'fashionable' to have English lettering on your clothing regardless if you spoke English or not. I once saw an old woman literally in her 80s-90s with "drugs are my life" on her T-shirt. I guess at that age she's probably not wrong, but still. MrNightKnight

The Cool Look.


A guy came up to my Mom and I and asked what character he had tattooed on his ankle. It was the word for fire in Chinese with an extra mark. When we told him there was a typo in the character, he said he knew it was fire but he added the extra line to make it look cooler. 🙄 foxnfawn

"Hot bananas are peace."

I had a student that transferred from Japan in high school who I was good friends with, a kid came in with a phrase in English that said "come to me if you wish to free your mind"

Then supposedly the same phrase in Japanese, she noticed and whispered the phrase to me which was "Hot bananas are peace." TheOriginalH1h

What Flavor?


My buddy had this really cool hoodie with Asian lettering and dragons 'n stuff, anyway one day our sub tells him the only thing written on it was "chicken wing" he also told him there were multiple different languages on it all used incorrectly. TanucksTanucks

Go Fish. 

Saw a girl with 魚 tattooed on her shoulder who swore up and down it meant poison... It means fish. HuffMyJock

My theory is that poor spelling was involved, because "poison" is one letter away from "poisson", which is French for fish. So, maybe she typed "poisson" into Google translate, it auto detected French and gave her the word for "fish." JackShetland


I was on the subway in NYC and there was a guy who clearly lifted a lot. He was wearing a sleeveless shirt and on his jacked arms in chinese were the words "牛肉麵" or "Beef noodle soup" for everyone to see. Man looked ready to get the rest of his favorite restaurant's menu tattooed on his body. nyaaaarp

Kanji symbols....

I didn't see it, but I went with a friend to get a piercing, and I heard a guy say, I don't like the way that looks, can you change this line and make the ends do this. The tattoo artist said, "Yea, but that changes the word, you might be going from brave to gay woman for all I know. You can't change kanji symbols and still have it mean the same thing." Bangbangsmashsmash

More to Love.


He thought it said "Love my grandson". It translated to something like "I love fat boys". I think it was a google translate failure of epic proportions. MisterComrade

Small Poultry. 

"tiny chicken" my friend got that thinking it said his name. KoGTRB

Basically in Chinese, "chicken" is a slang for penis; children like to use this slang a lot for some reason.

Btw on a completely unrelated note, chicken is also a slang for prostitutes.

Also in modern Chinese there aren't word specifically for hens or cocks, they are just female chicken and male chicken. The same can be said about pretty much any animal. phxph

Oh '87! 

Sort of opposite of this. In 1987 my sister visited the USSR and came home with a photo of an old lady wearing t-shirt that said "FORGET YOU I'M FROM MINNESOTA!" notonrexmanningday

As someone from Minnesota, I want this shirt. Bobrosss69

Satan Says....

Chinese speaker here. In high school I worked at a CVS. A white woman showed up at the register with a very poorly drawn 力 tattoo, and I said "cool tattoo, means power". She scoffed and replied to me like I was satan himself, and said "you obviously don't understand Chinese "letters" the tattoo artist told me it means the strength to overcome anything, even breast cancer..." then she rolled her eyes at me and walked away. cmilkrun


I was scrolling through the web at some tattoos for fun,a person said they got a tattoo that said "Strength and courage" in japanese. It actually said "Little animal, big mistake." Great quote imo,but I don't think they thought so after they got it permanently marked on their skin. GoSuckAJellyfish



My friend got a tattoo that said "veni vidi vici" in chinese, well so he thought. The tattoo acutually said "three small dishes." xopokxo


In the 9 circles of Hell would you even get a Roman quote done in Chinese in the first place...? Clayman8


You May Also Like
Hi friend— subscribe to my mailing list to get inbox updates of news, funnies, and sweepstakes.
—George Takei