The skull with crossbones or swords is an insignia that will always be associated with pirates, from the time of its conception until today, thanks in part to the popularity of movies like Pirates of the Caribbean.
The flag carrying this insignia, known as the Jolly Roger, was said to first appear around the 1700s. Although the origins of the symbol remains unknown, its name was supposedly an anglicized version of the French words ‘Jolie Rouge’, literally meaning Pretty Red.
The ‘red’, of course, referred to blood. When the Jolly Roger was flown by a pirate ship, it was a signal of the crew’s willingness to fight to the death for their loot. Basically, the message was, ‘give up or die’, and it was meant to instill fear among other ships so they would surrender their cargo without a fight.
In essence, the Jolly Roger embodies the pirate’s life; a love for high sea adventures, carefree globe-trotting and living by one’s own rules. Considering its significance in the olden days, it can also symbolize fearlessness in the face of death. In today’s world, one has to have enough guts to abandon conventionality and heed the call of adventure!