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The Lightning Bolt Tattoo Meaning and 70 Electrifying Designs to Choose From

by Sherri Owens

Lightning bolt tattoos can signify power, protection, unbridled force, potential, and much more.

I have been obsessed with lightning since I was a child. While others cowered under blankets during storms, I sat by the window watching the streaks of lightning split the sky. This obsession transferred into my art and I have always enjoyed creating designs for clients based on the various meanings behind this force of nature.

In this post, I will share the lightning bolt tattoo meaning with you as well as reveal the many tattoo designs that you can choose from.

What is the Lightning Bolt Tattoo Meaning?

There are a few different meanings associated with a lightning bolt tattoo.

Before I get into the lightning bolt tattoo meaning, though, I do want to clear one thing up. In many of the stories and myths associated with lightning, you will find the lightning bolt symbol referred to as a thunderbolt.

The lightning bolt and thunderbolt is essentially identical. It is just that when people talk about a thunderbolt, they are referring to the lightning followed by a thunderclap. Due to this, lightning tattoos and thunderbolt tattoos are one and the same.

Lightning Bolts and the Force of Nature

Lightning is found all over the world, since the beginning of time. So, it stands to reason that there would be several meanings behind this force of nature.

Lightning Bolts and the Force of Nature

Image by @lightningspotters via Instagram

The first, of course, is sheer, unbridled power. It has the ability to destroy but also to instill people with a sense of awe and wonder.

This can be a great tattoo choice if this is the kind of persona you would like to construct. This is if you want to be the kind of person who has the personality and magnetism that makes people take notice of you.

There is also a myth that lightning strikes just once in each place. This could be a reminder to you to constantly progress and to never stay in one place for too long. Instead, change things up as often as you can.

Zeus and Lightning Bolts

The Greek God Zeus has arguably one of the most common and oldest associations with the lightning bolt. Not only is Zeus considered the leader of the Greek gods, but he is also considered the weather god, hence the use of his lightning bolt.

Zeus and Lightning Bolts Forearm Tattoo

Image by @shavaart via Instagram

Due to this, the traits of Zeus are linked to the lightning bolt and the lightning bolt tattoo meaning. This means that the lightning bolt symbol's association is with power, war, and protection.

Zeus was well-known for waging war against other gods as well as the Titans. His leadership and power were also revered both by gods as well as men. At the same time, he was quite concerned with justice and protection too.

He was seen as the protector of the home, property, cities, guests, and strangers. So, once upon a time, the lightning bolt meant protection. To many people, it still does.

Thor and Lightning Bolts

The mythology of Thor - the Norse God - may not be as well known, but he is associated with the lightning bolt as well. He is the God of lightning, thunder, and storms. He is linked to power and strength too.

Thor was able to create lightning with his hammer Mjolnir - it is believed that this directly translates to the lightning maker.

Thor and Lightning Bolts

Image by @_lightraven via Instagram

Thor is also associated with lightning's positive attributes. He - and the lightning bolt tattoo meaning - is that of strength, power, and protection. It is also a sign of how such a powerful force was harnessed for good rather than evil.

Due to this, your lightning bolt tattoo meaning can be a representation of your potential and how you choose to use it for positive concepts.

Lightning Bolts in the Bible

Lightning is mentioned several times in the bible and, as such, there is a religious lightning bolt tattoo meaning as well.

Traditionally, lightning bolts have been used to depict God's power and all that he is capable of. In this instance, a lightning bolt icon would represent your faith in God's power. It can also be seen as a reminder of all that God can accomplish in your life.

At the same time, mighty lightning bolts are also associated with the wrath of God. So, one lightning bolt tattoo meaning could have to be how God will take care of the people who have wronged you.

This lightning bolt tattoo can also be a reminder for you to stay on the straight and narrow so that you can avoid the consequences of your misdeeds.

The Lightning Bolt and Harry Potter

The one place you're sure to find a lightning bolt tattoo is on Harry Potter fans. This is a nod to the lightning bolt scar on Harry's head.

On the one hand, this lightning bolt tattoo represents being a fan of the Harry Potter books. However, this lightning bolt tattoo meaning can go deeper than this.

For some, this lightning bolt tattoo meaning is linked to destiny, bravery, friendship, sacrifice, and more. It is also a reminder of people's childhood and simpler times.

A lightning bolt tattoo based on the Harry Potter series can also be about believing in the magic of life. That there is more to the world and people than just what you can see with your own two eyes.

The Superhero Flash and the Lightning Bolt Tattoo Meaning

If you are a fan of comic books, you will likely know The Flash, the DC comic book hero. He is so named because he has superhuman speed and his symbol is that of a lightning bolt.

Superhero Flash and the Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Image by @alini_x via Instagram

Naturally, you can get this kind of lightning tattoo because you enjoy the comics or The Flash is your favorite superhero. He also represents the positive capabilities of science.

The Flash is also a symbol of hope and progress - a reminder to keep moving forward even when times are rough.

Here, his symbol is represented by a vivid yellow bolt, a stylized lightning bolt tattoo.

A Note About the Double Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Before you settle on a tattoo design, I want to talk about the double lightning bolt tattoo design.

For many of these tattoo designs, the icon is very similar to the symbol worn by the Nazi party's secret police. These days, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists will use this insignia as hate symbols, often getting it tattooed on their bodies.

Due to this, you should think long and hard about getting a double lightning bolt tattoo. If you want to get one, make sure you look up the SS symbol so that you can avoid getting the wrong lightning tattoo.

The Lightning Bolt Tattoo Designs

Here are the best lightning bolt tattoos, along with their meanings:

Simple Lightning Bolt Tattoos

One of the reasons that I love this tattoo design is because it is so easy to keep the design simple. Just the zigzag shape alone is enough to tell you exactly what the tattoo is.

So, you can retain the meaning of the lightning bolt without any issue at all. This also works well if you want a small lightning bolt tattooed on you.

When it comes to this kind of tattoo design, certain lightning bolt tattoos can be done as a single, continuous zig-zag line. The other lightning tattoos can have a wider, more 3D shape to them.

Simple Lightning Bolts Tattoo on the Wrist

Image by @ink.phi via Instagram

Tiny Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Image by @culttattoos via Instagram

Small and Simple Lightning Bolt Forearm Tattoo

Image by @mirandapokes via Instagram

Bold Black Ink Lightning Bol Wrist Tattoo

Image by @angiehandpokes via Instagram

Small Black Line Lightning Bolt Tattoo Behind the Ear

Image by @kennastattys via Instagram

Black Line Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Image by @nevadatattoostudio via Instagram

Filled and Transparent Lightning Bolt Wrist Tattoo

Image by @josietattoos via Instagram

Red Tiny Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Image by @dani_tattooer via Instagram

Mini Lightning Bolt Forearm Tattoo

Image by @ameliaatattoo via Instagram

Tiny Lightning Bolt Tattoo Behind the Ear

Image by @pollytatttoo via Instagram

Bold Lines Lightning Bolt Finger Tattoo

Image by @allyscribblestattoos via Instagram

Thick Line Lightning Bolt Thigh Tattoo

Image by @josephinetattoos via Instagram

Bold Black Lightning Bolt Forearm Tattoo

Image by @macthefruitbat via Instagram

Mini Red Lightning Bolt Tattoo on the Hip

Image by @pknightbridgetattoo via Instagram

Black Filling Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Image by @emjacobstattoo via Instagram

Black Line Lightning Bolt Forearm Tattoo

Image by @shydaisytattoos via Instagram

Tiniest Little Lightning Bolt Wrist Tattoo

Image by @mashroomink via Instagram

Black Line Grey Shade Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Image by @manualdanualtattoos via Instagram

Streaked Lightning Bolt Tattoos

If you're looking for more realistic renderings, lightning streak tattoos are the way to go. Not only is this kind of lightning tattoo unique and beautiful, but the realistic bolts also look wild and untamed.

So, if this is the kind of meaning you would like to convey with your lightning tattoo, this is definitely the lightning bolts design you should go for.

It is a good idea to take either an image or a picture of the lightning bolts you want. The tattoo artist will be able to follow that pattern. Keep in mind that the exact tattoo design and pattern may have to change depending on the desired placement of the lightning tattoo.

Black Lightning Streak Rib Tattoo

Image by @wisnia_dziara via Instagram

Red Lightning Streak Rib Tattoo

Image by @sou_tattooertokyo via Instagram

Streaked Lightning Bolt Leg Tattoo

Image by @crimsonredtattoos via Instagram

Lightning Streak Tattoo From Ear to Shoulder

Image by @tuttitatts via Instagram

Streaked Lightning Bolt Back Tattoo

Image by @manualdanualtattoos via Instagram

Black and Grey Realistic Lightning Bolt Tattoo on Hands

Image by @beccambtattoo via Instagram

Streaked Lightning Bolt Tattoo with a Text

Image by @prickhouse_ink via Instagram

Streaked Lightning Bolt Thigh Tattoo

Image by @wisnia_dziara via Instagram

Streaked Lightning and Hand Tattoo

Image by @3goblins via Instagram

Black Lightning Streak Tattoo

Image by @marivandaford via Instagram

Black Lightning Streak Sleeve Tattoo

Image by @tattoosbymandyc via Instagram

Lightning Streak Forearm Tattoo

Image by @kerky_od_iwiny via Instagram

Streaked Lightning Bolt Forearm Tattoo

Image by @fleshoffthestreet via Instagram

Lightning Streak Rib Tattoo

Image by @camcamh_tattoo via Instagram

Bold Black Lightning Streak Tattoo

Image by @liisatatuoi via Instagram

Lightning Bolt Streak Hand Tattoo

Image by @nikkimaxink via Instagram

Lightning Strike Tattoo Coming Down From Behind the Ear

Image by @markietattoos via Instagram

Black and Grey Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Image by @crusty.tattooer via Instagram

Storm Clouds and Lightning Bolt Tattoos

If you want to take your lightning bolt tattoo to the next level, get one or more lightning bolts with stormy clouds. This can create a more complete picture.

This kind of lightning tattoo is also a great way to symbolize a dark and stormy time in your life. It could also be a reminder that there is always the calm after the storm, giving you something to look forward to in the future.

There are lots of lightning bolt tattoo variations that you can go with here. On the one hand, you have the cute cartoon symbol. This is a great lightning tattoo option if you want your tattoo to be more optimistic.

On the other hand, if you would like a slightly darker meaning to the lightning tattoo design, go with brooding storm clouds or a rain cloud tattoo.

Here are examples of both of these options so that you have a better idea of what you would like to get:

Rain Cloud and Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Image by @ediebea and cosmic.love.tattoo via Instagram

Storm Cloud and Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Image by @dog_tooth_tattoo via Instagram

Greyscale Lightning Bolt and Cloud Tattoo

Image by @jaredxhughes via Instagram

Custom Clouds and Lightning Bolt Shoulder Tattoo

Image by @sonny_tattooer via Instagram

Black Line Cloud and Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Image by @bangbangbodyarts via Instagram

Rainy Cloud and Lightning Bolt Inner Bicep Tattoo

Image by @laurencenormantattoo via Instagram

Thunderstorm Sleeve Tattoo

Image by @andreasicktattoo via Instagram

Colored Storm Cloud and Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Image by @tattooedsailor via Instagram

Black and Grey Storm Cloud Moon and Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Image by @rachelannatattoo via Instagram

Greyscale Storm Cloud and Lightning Bolt Tattoo Piece

Image by @nefro_tattoo via Instagram

Rainbow, Storm Cloud Face with Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Image by @agirlnamed_sue via Instagram

Storm Cloud with Lightning Bolt and Bunny Tea Cup Tattoo

Image by @zf.tattoo via Instagram

Lightning Bolt and Storm Cloud Sleeve Tattoo

Image by @kianahopetattoo via Instagram

Simple Storm Cloud and Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Image by @mastermindstattoo via Instagram

Small Storm Cloud and Lightning Bolt Ankle Tattoo

Image by @ovarydose via Instagram

Storm Cloud Face with Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Image by @_nukeleo via Instagram

Colorful Lightning Bolt Tattoos

There is no reason to go traditional with your lightning bolts. You can get really creative with this idea. If this concept sounds good to you, a colorful lightning bolt tattoo is the way to go!

The great thing about these lightning tattoos is that you have the option to get as crazy as you want. It is a wonderful way to emphasize the primal force behind lightning.

Another cool concept to work with is to create an entire scene or landscape within the black contour lines of the lightning shape. This can be a great way to capture both an aesthetic as well as an emotion within a tattoo.

Simple Red Lightning Bolt Wrist Tattoo

Image by @sailorose_ via Instagram

Black Green Pink and Orange Lightning Bolt Tattoo Piece

Image by @skindependent via Instagram

Floral Lightning Bolt Arm Tattoo

Image by @louddoodle via Instagram

Lotus Flower Lightning Bolt Forearm Tattoo

Image by @bryan.gee via Instagram

Night Sky and Palace Lightning Bolt Tattoo Design

Image by @hhorlandotattoo and marlosalvatierra via Instagram

Red Flower and Green Leaves Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Image by @johntattoo_cupcake via Instagram

Pink Colored Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Image by @clarktattoos via Instagram

Flashy Pink and Blue Finger Tattoo

Image by @patrik_gladmark via Instagram

Black Theme Flowery Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Image by @donut_bones via Instagram

Yellow Lightning Bolt Tattoo with Space Theme

Image by @twentyse7enmusicuk via Instagram

Tattoo of a Rose inside Lightning Bolt

Image by @joeytats via Instagram

Floral Lightning Bolt Tattoo Piece

Image by @built2last_tattoo via Instagram

Blue Theme Night Sky Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Image by @irmagogovatattoo_art via Instagram

David Bowie Patch Lightning Bolt Tattoo

Image by @thevonb via Instagram

Yellow Lightning Bolt Ankle Tattoo

Image by @boldurtattoos via Instagram

Flaming Lightning Bolt Chest Tattoo

Image by @bryan.gee via Instagram

Green Lighting Bolt Tattoo Piece

Image by @dmptattoos via Instagram

Brush Stroke Lightning Bolt Tattoo Piece

Image by @amyjasmine_model via Instagram

These are all the lightning bolt tattoo meanings and designs that you should know about. Now that you know all the options available, the only thing you need to do is to pick the right one.

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