Embarrassing Celebrity Chinese Tattoos

Chinese hanzi tattoos when translated corrected and designed properly, can make an already attractive person more attractive. My previous article on celebrity tattoos gives a few good examples.

However, what some celebrities have inked on their skin does suggest that not all of them did they homework before getting an exotic Chinese character tattoo design.

Oliver Queen’s Chinese tattoo in CW’s TV show “Arrow”

Oliver Queen's Chinese tattoo

Oliver Queen’s Chinese tattoo

CW’s TV show “Arrow”, based on a superhero that appears in comic books, is the latest TV hit, not only in the US but also globally, especially in China at the moment. The main character Oliver Queen, a billionaire playboy who moonlights as a crime-fighting vigilante looking to clean up the streets of Starling City, is played by Stephen Amell.

While the audience is enthralled by Stephen Amell’s sexy look and hot muscular body for the role as the super hero, the Chinese audience is very much puzzled by the four Chinese characters on the right side of his torso. The makeup artist for the show definitely thought a Chinese tattoo can increased the masculinity of the main character. Unfortunately, this Chinese tattoo seems to consist of a bunch of random characters “鼠姜姚猪” which do not make sense when put together. Individually, the characters mean “mouse”, “ginger”, “Yao” (normally used as a surname), and “pig”.  Is the TV character supposed to be as clever as a mouse, as spicy as a singer, as tall as Yao Ming (the famous Chinese NBA player) and as lucky as a pig?!

Britney Spears’ “weird” Chinese tattoo

Britney Spears' Chinese tattoo

Britney Spears’ Chinese tattoo

Britney Spears has a flower bearing the Chinese character 奇 on her hip bone. Apparently, she wanted to get the character for “mysterious” as a tattoo. But, what is inked on her is not at all what she had in mind. This word means “strange” or “weird”. Moreover, the design of the character on her is frankly quite ugly, which adds to this whole “weird” theme. The proportions of the upper and lower parts are not right- it looks like something written by a 4 year old.




Justin Timberlake’s Chinese tattoo in the movie Alpha Dog

Justin Timberlake's Chinese tattoo

Justin Timberlake’s Chinese tattoo

The makeup artist for the movie Alpha Dog must be a Chinese language/culture lover. That is perhaps why there are two Chinese tattoos on Justin Timberlake for his role in the movie.

One of the tattoos, the four characters: 风土水火,mean “wind, earth, water and fire” which are the four elements of life. This is a nice tattoo and makes sense.

However, the other Chinese tattoo which is on his left upper arm means something which is completely out of context. It is the two character word 溜冰 and it means “ice skating”. Luckily for Justin, he could have it removed after filming for the movie was done.


Captain America Chris Evans’ Chinese Tattoo

Chris Evans' Chinese tattoo

Chris Evans’ Chinese tattoo

The movie star Chris Evans is famous for his role in the movie “Captain America” and he is, admittedly, a rather good-looking guy.

He has a nice looking Chinese tattoo on his right upper arm. It is a one character tattoo 氏. Unfortunately, this is not a character which is used on its own in modern Chinese and it means “family name, surname”. It is therefore a rather odd choice of character for a Chinese tattoo. I wonder if he knew what the character meant when he was getting it as a tattoo…



If you’re interested in Chinese tattoos and want to get it right, please read our other articles on this topic.

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Comments: 16

  1. Robin October 28, 2012 at 11:06 pm Reply

    Wow these Chinese tatoos are cool and the one that Britney Spears has suits her the best. She is definitely strange, putting it lightly.

  2. Meg October 30, 2012 at 12:12 am Reply

    Funny about Justin Timberlake. What if he was an awesome ice skater? That would have been perfect for him.

    • Jenny (ChineseTattoos.org) October 30, 2012 at 3:39 pm Reply

      Haha, that would be quite funny. Or maybe he fancies some ice skater?

      • Robin Choo March 24, 2014 at 9:01 am Reply

        The chinese word 溜冰 literally means ice skating, but for people who understand gangster lingo, it also means sniffing methamphetamine (or the drug ice). Its interesting everyone is mocking his tattoo on the internet and i have not seen anyone who really understood that term explaining what it was

  3. Wayne November 5, 2012 at 10:03 pm Reply

    I agree, Britney Spear”s Chinese tattoo is extremely fitting.

  4. Blaine November 8, 2012 at 12:54 am Reply

    Oh yes that Chinese tattoo for Chris Evans is far from fitting as you can get. I know I will think twice before getting one as nice as they are.

  5. Rick Lang November 12, 2012 at 12:01 am Reply

    I have always wanted to get a Chinese tattoo but always feared it would turn out to be the wrong choice. These celebrities are used to being mocked, I am not!

  6. Greg November 12, 2012 at 11:53 pm Reply

    I bet there are plenty other celebs with funny and embarrassing Chinese tattoos out there who have not yet come forward or been discovered :)

  7. Tina December 21, 2012 at 11:54 pm Reply

    A Japanese friend of mine once saw someone with the characters “Left” and “Right” on their feet.

    • Jenny (ChineseTattoos.org) December 24, 2012 at 8:29 am Reply

      Haha! Actually, that might be a good idea for someone who easily confuses the directions. Would love to see a picture of that.

  8. Chinese February 16, 2013 at 2:37 am Reply

    Justin’s tattoo that says Ice Skating in chinese is a chinese slang for doing drugs because the drugs such as meth resemble ice.
    source: i’m chinese

    • Chinese February 16, 2013 at 2:38 am Reply

      and given the story of the movie Alpha Dog I would say the tattoo is relevant

  9. evarda November 4, 2013 at 7:36 pm Reply

    The Oliver Queen tattoo of Chinese characters isn’t nonsense. We don’t know what 3 of the characters represent yet, but Yao is the name of his friend on the island. I’m sure the other characters represent something to Oliver too. We will find out in future episodes of the series.

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  11. R November 6, 2015 at 6:30 am Reply

    Your article is stupid, Oliver Queen’s tattoo confers protection against magical threats.

  12. […] 23 Tatuagens de Kanjis Que Deram Errado Os ideogramas japoneses e chineses exercem um grande fascínio em muitas pessoas ao redor do mundo. E não é incomum vermos gente por aí, tatuada com caracteres asiáticos. Mas nem sempre o significado deles tem a ver com o significado que a pessoa imaginou ou gostaria que tivesse. E o que era pra ser bonito acaba revelando-se algo muito constrangedor. Por isso, todo cuidado é pouco! Só para citar um exemplo, o personagem Oliver Queen (interpretado por Stephen Amell), no seriado americano Arrow, tem quatro caracteres chineses “鼠姜姚猪” tatuados em seu abdômen. Juntos, esses caracteres não fazem nenhum sentido, mas individualmente significam “rato”, “gengibre”, “Yao” (normalmente usado como sobrenome), e “porco”. (Fonte: chinesetatoos.org) […]

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