One of the most controversial parts of the tattoo world is that of the teardrop tattoo. This look is worn by a number of people, but is most commonly spoken about due to its connections with imprisonment. Even within the prison system, the teardrop tattoo has a number of meanings and if you have one, it is worth being careful about who you speak to because there can be confusion over what it means. Explaining it may work, but remember that if someone has been to prison they may well have been there for a reason and not be terribly impressed by your explanation.
Usually, at least outside the prison system, the teardrop tattoo is given to symbolise the loss of a person close to you. However, its prison meaning, and one that extends to the outside due to the presence of former prisoners in the community, will often be that the bearer has killed another person. More than one teardrop beneath your eye means more than one kill. Whether the teardrop is filled or not also affects its meaning. An empty tear can mean an unsuccessful attempted murder, or that a loved one has been murdered. A tear that is full at the bottom and empty at the top means that the death of a loved one has been avenged.
For such reasons as listed above, it is perhaps unwise to get a teardrop tattoo underneath one’s eye. Additionally, it is particularly unwise to get one in Australia, as this kind of tattoo is often forcibly given by other inmates to convicted child molesters.