Tattoos last forever, if they are well done and by an artist who does quality work. Unless one would want to go through the painful process of lasering them off, tattoos are a pretty permanent decision, and not every mistake can be covered up, even by the most talented of artists.
There are plenty of instances of celebrities removing or covering up their tattoos – in the wake of a breakup, a change in personal style, a career choice or a decision that they’re just not feeling their ink anymore. But what about the celebs that have tattoos which totally failed in the execution? We’re not talking about poorly-done tattoos, this is all about typos! Where’s spellcheck when you need it, right?
More often than not, celebs with tattoo typos often have them done in a foreign language, and those languages are usually East Asian, where reading comprehension goes up and down rather than back and forth, and the removal or insertion of a character can change the meaning completely. But, who cares about proofreading when it looks cool, right?
Ariana Grande is the most recent victim to this trend (and the first entry on this list), as she tried to tattoo the palm of her hand in honour of her new single. While she may be the latest, we’d bet good money that she’s not the first or the last.
Here are 19 celebrity tattoos with spelling errors.
19 Ariana Grande’s Tiny Barbecue
In honour of her very successful single “7 Rings” (who else constantly has the verse in their head?), Grande attempted to get the Japanese characters of both words tattooed on the palm of her hand. Unfortunately though, the pop star didn’t take the time to ask an expert (what were you thinking, Ariana?!).
While technically the characters for “seven” and “rings” are there, when placed together they create shichirin, or a small charcoal grill! Even after getting it “fixed”, it’s still considered a fail, now reading “Japanese BBQ finger <3”! We wonder if she'll ever live this one down...
18 Harry Styles’ Misheard Lyric
It's annoying when you’re singing a song out loud and a friend points out that you're singing the wrong words. It's even worse when you decide to get those misheard lyrics permanently branded on your body. Oh, wait, that last bit just applied to former One Direction member Harry Styles!
While the singer is covered in tons of tattoos, none of them are as big of a disaster as the Temper Trap lyrics under his arm. The song “Sweet Disposition” goes “won’t stop to surrender” while Styles has “won’t stop ‘till we surrender.” Adding insult to injury? Apparently it was ex Taylor Swift who got the lyrics written on paper by the band, but something got lost in translation!
17 Emma Watson’s Punctuation Error
Fortunately for Hermione Granger – and punctuation nerds everywhere – Emma Watson’s fitting “Time’s Up” tattoo was actually a fake!
When the actress showed up to the Vanity Fair Oscars party last year, she had the elaborate ink drawn on her arm, but it was missing a key thing: an apostrophe between the “e” and the “s.” Obviously, the internet pointed out Watson’s mistake, but she took the whole thing in stride, tweeting, “Fake tattoo proofreading position available. Experience with apostrophes [is] a must.” We can’t imagine she’d be so chill about it had it been the real deal!
16 Justin Timberlake’s Chinese Symbols
Another victim of tattoos done in a language they don’t understand, we have Justin Timberlake. However, like Emma Watson, Timberlake got off easy in this case, because the extensive amount of ink on his body was just for his part as a criminal character in the film Alpha Dog.
Hollywood doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to incorporating Asian languages as décor, and they certainly failed when it came to costume and makeup for the singer and actor. While the Chinese characters on his bicep were meant to seem intimidating, internet sleuths quickly deduced that they weren’t so frightening. Instead, they translated as “ice skating”!
15 Ben Higgins’ “Proverbs 16:34”
As far as tattoo fails go, this one is pretty minor, but it’s the attempted correction at it that makes it worse.
Former Bachelor Ben Higgins opted to get a Bible verse tattooed on his side when he was in his early twenties. The lines of scripture are from Proverbs 16:3 and should be marked as so, but Higgins ended up with an extra number, cited as “Proverbs 16:34” instead. Rather than get the extra numeral removed, Higgins decided to try to cover it up with a cross instead, which we guess is trying to make the best out of a mistake? Hey, at least it was on theme!
14 Kevin Durant’s Massive Misspell
When you’re getting a giant tattoo anywhere on your body – especially on a visible portion – it’s a good rule of thumb to ensure that the stencil is absolutely perfect. Quadruple check that thing if you have to! Someone should have told NBA player Kevin Durant, though, because with his giant back tattoo that has a ton of script, there’s one major misspelling.
Amid the lines of text, the word “mature” is misspelled as “mautre,” according to Bustle. We suppose that, considering how much work went into the piece and how many words were involved, one typo isn’t too bad, right?
13 Rihanna’s Sanskrit Snafu
The first of two Rihanna tattoo fails, let’s discuss the Sanskrit ink done along her side. In 2009, the singer got “forgiveness, honesty, suppression, and control,” a line from the Sanatana Dharma, but it ended up being misspelled! When properly translated, it actually reads something that sounds kind of negative...
Rihanna’s tat is also missing the remainder of the prayer, which are the words “pleasure, pain, birth, death,” but we don’t wanna guess how that might cause more confusion if she decided to add it a decade later!
12 Liam Hemsworth’s Missing Word
Couple tattoos are rarely a good idea, obviously in the event of a breakup. Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus got matching tattoos before their split but, years later, have since rekindled their romance and actually tied the knot, so all is good on that front! The issue here isn’t that the Teddy Roosevelt quote is shared by his now-wife – it’s that it’s missing a word.
The line, taken from Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic,” is supposed to read, “if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.” While the script is nice, whoever tattooed the actor forget to add the second “he”!
11 Jessie J’s “Losing” Ink
The amount of people who mix up “lose” and “loose” probably doesn’t surprise you, if you’ve read captions on social media, but at least they’ve kept their errors to the internet, not permanently marked on their bodies!
Singer Jessie J really should have proofread her tattoo before getting the ink on the side of her hip. The tat is meant to be the phrase “Don’t lose who you are in the blur of the stars,” which is good advice, except that Jessie added an extra “o” so that it reads “Don’t loose who you are,” which, well, doesn’t make any sense.
10 Coolio’s Intentional Typo
No one likes to make mistakes, and it’s even worse to be called out on it, especially if you’re a celebrity. Some celebs own their errors while others, like Coolio, prefer to deny, deny, deny.
The ink in question is a tattoo on the “Gangsta’s Paradise” rapper’s arm of the juggalo symbol and the words “Juggalo Cool.” The tattoo was done in tribute to his frequent tour mates Insane Clown Posse, so you’d think at least one person would be able to point out the correct spelling! Instead of “juggalo,” Coolio got “jugalo,” which he claims was intentional. Why? We don’t know.
9 Ed Sheeran’s Galway Gaffe
Friends don’t let friends get bad tattoos, but sometimes friends are actually the cause of bad tattoos! Singer Ed Sheeran has got a lot of ink on his body, which is probably why he’s been able to shake off this major error.
To celebrate his single “Galway Girl” Sheeran asked the star of the music video, actress Saoirse Ronan, to write the title so that the tattoo would be in her handwriting. Sweet thought, right? Well, Ronan decided to pull a little prank on her friend and wrote “Galway Grill” instead – and Sheeran didn’t catch the mistake in time! Hey, at least he and Ariana Grande will have something to chat about the next time they meet!
8 Jennifer Lawrence’s Chemical Reaction
Ever the Cool Girl, Jennifer Lawrence opted to get a tattoo that would help keep her, well, cool. On her hand in red ink, the actress got the chemical symbol for water – H2O – as a reminder to stay hydrated! As Elle reports her saying,
“I was with Liam’s [Hemsworth] family and everybody was getting tattoos. And I was like, well, I’m always going to need to stay hydrated so I guess I should just get H2O on my hand…”
The issue is that, instead of getting the “2” lower, she got it above the letters, but, for the record, JLaw knows she made a mistake, explaining, “I should have Googled it before I got it tattooed on my body.”
7 Ashley Greene’s Missing Apostrophe
While Emma Watson was lucky enough to have her missing apostrophe only the subject of a temporary tattoo mistake, another star was not so fortunate.
Ashley Greene, best known for her role as Alice Cullen in the teen sensation Twilight and its sequels, should have looked a little more carefully before getting the phrase “life’s a dance” inked on her foot. The tattoo is missing a crucial apostrophe, reading instead “lifes a dance,” which is grammatically incorrect. At the very least, she’s able to cover up the mistake with shoes, or fix it by adding a tiny apostrophe if she so chooses!
6 Christina Aguilera’s Hebrew Husband
In the case of a mistaken tattoo turning out okay in the end, we have Christina Aguilera. The singer was supposed to get the Hebrew initials for her ex-husband, Jordan Bratman, inked on her arm. The thing is, instead of reading “JB,” the characters read “12”!
Eventually, Aguilera and Bratman officially divorced in 2011 after five years of marriage, so, even with the number 12 still inked on her arm permanently, she can rest easy knowing that it is not, in fact, the initials of her ex, which is probably why she hasn’t bothered to remove it yet!
5 David Beckham’s Tribute
Another celeb on this list who has a ton of tattoos, can we really blame David Beckham for failing to totally ensure that this one was 100% correct? Even if it was his wife’s name? Yep, you read that right!
The soccer star sweetly tried to pay tribute to his wife of almost 20 years, Victoria Beckham, by tattooing her name in Sanskrit on his forearm. Unfortunately, though, he ended up getting the name misspelled, with the addition of an “h” to it reads “Vihctoria.” It’s okay, though, because he’s gotten her name inked on his hand since – in English, spelled properly.
4 Britney Spears’ Chinese Mix-Up
Many years ago, Britney Spears wasn’t considered to be the best at making good decisions, and that included permanent body art. While the singer has got plenty of cutesy tattoos over the years – dice on her wrist, butterfly on her foot, fairy on her lower back – it was her choice to get Chinese characters inside of a starburst tattooed on her hip that was the worst.
The ink is supposed to read “mysterious,” but when translated properly it actually reads “strange.” Yikes! Not to be deterred, Spears got more foreign ink on her body, this time in Hebrew on the back of her neck. It was meant to say “God,” but the letters were mixed up!
3 Hayden Panettiere’s Italian Regret
Arguably one of the most famous misspelled tattoos on celebs, Hayden Panettiere’s Italian tattoo is noteworthy because the actress was initially so proud of showing it off! Often photographed in tops and dresses on the red carpet that highlighted the new ink, it turns out that Panettiere’s phrase was actually incorrect!
The words “vivere senza rimpianti” – meaning “live without regrets” – was done on the actress’s rib cage, but was missing a crucial letter in the last word; it should have been “rimipianti”! Panettiere took it all in good humour but by 2013 was in the process of removing it.
2 Jon Gosselin’s Wrong Name
Yikes, this one has got to hurt! Ed Hardy fan and TV dad Jon Gosselin decided that, despite being burned in love before, he was ready to dive in deep again, and this time proclaim his devotion to his new girlfriend Erin by inking her name in big letters across his back, alongside an image of a Korean dragon.
Except, it wasn’t the name “Erin” he walked away with!
Instead, Gosselin ended up with the moniker “Ellen” across his back, which probably didn’t make his (now-ex) girlfriend very happy. Guess he needs to find a woman named Ellen and give her a huge surprise on their first date!
1 Rihanna’s French Mistake
Rihanna, despite getting a misspelled Sanskrit tattoo in 2009, apparently failed to learn from her mistakes. On her neck, the singer has the words “rebelle fleur” tattooed, which she took to mean “rebel flower” (the French phrase also happens to be the name of a perfume from the singer). However, as anyone with a basic knowledge of French would tell you, this type of adjective is supposed to come after the noun, which means that while she meant “rebel flower,” she actually got “flower rebel.”
In what seems like an attempt to save face, Rihanna’s tattoo artist says that the words are meant to be two nouns, not a noun and an adjective, making his work accurate, as Capital Xtra reports. Sure.