What Are the Zodiac Signs? A Guide to the 12 Signs

Maressa Brown
·10 mins read

Getty Images/InStyle.com

Whether you’re swiping on a dating app and filtering for a sign you’ve found you particularly adore, or you’re examining your own personality quirks, an infatuation with astrology quite often begins with learning about the 12 sun signs. The luminous celestial body spends approximately four weeks a month in each sign, and whichever it occupied when you were born is designated as your sign.

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While we tend to refer to ourselves as our sun sign, it’s just one detail of a natal chart, which is basically a unique snapshot of the sky when you were born. Your chart serves as your astrological DNA throughout your life, offering insight on your mental and emotional wiring, as well as how you’ll respond to planetary shifts over time. So, if you’re a Scorpio who feels like a blurb describing you as “obsessive, magnetic, and secretive” couldn’t be further from the truth or a Capricorn who isn’t exactly a pragmatic workaholic, chances are other aspects of your chart — say, an outgoing Leo rising or airy Gemini moon — are overshadowing your sun.

But while your sun sign is just one piece of a complex, multi-layered puzzle, it’s worth exploring, as it helps to color your core sense of self, identity, personal style, self-esteem, and confidence.

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Here, what you need to know about the quadruplicities, or qualities, the four elements (fire, earth, air, and water), as well as details on each sun sign. Combined, they’ll serve to offer invaluable insight into what makes you tick.

The Quadruplicities

Every sign is assigned a quality (cardinal, mutable, or fixed), which explains the sign’s basic energy. There’s one sign per quality under each element. For example, within the water sign group, Cancer is the cardinal, Scorpio is fixed, and Pisces is mutable.

Cardinal: Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn

Born at the start of any season, on a solstice or equinox, cardinal signs are visionaries who are driven to constantly generate new strategies for success. They’re often brimming with bold, brilliant ideas, but follow-through can feel like a slightly uphill battle.

Mutable: Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces

Born at the end of a given season, mutable signs are flexible, open to going with the flow, and typically willing to hear all sides of an issue before making a decision. In fact, it’s for this very reason that they can struggle to reach a conclusion, but once they do, you can rest assured they’ve left no stone unturned while gathering pertinent information.

Fixed: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius

Fixed signs are stubborn but also rock-steady and achievement-oriented. They naturally get locked into a set pattern of behavior or perspective, which means it can be challenging for them to redirect.

Fire

Demonstrative, outgoing, dynamic, and ambitious, fire signs can get animated quickly but run the risk of burning out fast. They thrive when they find a way to channel their passion in a sustainable, practical way.

Aries (March 21 – April 19)

The cardinal fire sign’s dynamism, impulsivity, and appetite for victory make them exciting, fun, courageous, and fearless. They’re your rockstar lawyer, teammate, the politician you would drop everything to canvas for, and the best friend who will go to bat for you time and again.

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Compatibility: Aries will likely fare best with a similarly free-spirited Sagittarius, up-for-anything Gemini, or attention-loving Leo.

Aries celebs: America Ferrera, Reese Witherspoon, Lady Gaga, Emma Watson, Gloria Steinem, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Mariah Carey

More on Aries here

Leo (July 23 - August 22)

The fixed fire sign is full of life and positivity, commanding the spotlight in a way that’s sure to entertain, engage, and inspire others. Independent-minded and mesmerizingly fun to be around, you can rely on Leos in your circle to help you see the bright side of any situation and feel fired up and ready to take on the world.

Compatibility: Leo often sparks with a fellow joie de vivre-filled Sagittarius, active Aries, or romantic Libra.

Leo celebs: Meghan Markle, Gina Rodriguez, Jennifer Lopez, Monica Lewinsky, Jennifer Lawrence, Demi Lovato, and Cara Delevingne

More on Leo here

Sagittarius (November 22 - December 21)

Philosophical, curious, fun-loving, and determined to take life, love, and the world by storm, soaking up knowledge at every turn, the mutable fire sign tend to embrace a YOLO-esque perspective. They are the multi-hyphenate entertainers of the zodiac, coming off as gregarious, lively, dynamic, and they adore soaking up all the knowledge they can, especially around other cultures, distant travel destinations, politics, and social justice.

Compatibility: Sag often hits it off with a similarly buoyant Leo, go-getter Aries, or free-spirited Aquarius.

Sagittarius celebs: Chrissy Teigen, Janelle Monáe, Scarlett Johansson, Zoë Kravitz, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Tiffany Haddish, Anna Faris, and Christina Applegate

More on Sagittarius here

Earth

Known to be grounded, stable, hard-working, service-oriented, and highly organized, earth signs are the perfectionists of the zodiac. Although their eye for detail and planning can be so helpful, they benefit from a self-care practice or support network that aids them in seeing the big picture.

Taurus (April 20 - May 20)

The fixed earth sign’s resolute character, pragmatism, patience, and love of luxury make them loyal, heartfelt, loving, and soothing to be around. They’re your favorite chef, Netflix and chill companion, date to a concert, or friend you can rely on to plan the most memorable spa day (even if it just entails throwing on a luxe face mask and sipping rosé at home).

Compatibility: Taurus often hits it off with a similarly service-oriented Virgo, home-loving, money-conscious Cancer, or industrious Capricorn.

Taurus celebs: Lizzo, Adele, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Aidy Bryant, Tina Fey, Penelope Cruz, Ellie Kemper, and Gigi Hadid

More on Taurus here

Virgo (August 23 - September 22)

Grounded empaths and lovers of language, knowledge, and being of service to those they love, the mutable earth sign is brimming with helpful information and action steps. They’re also being one of the first people to offer a shoulder to lean or cry on. They are the brainy A-students of the zodiac, quick to share what they know to steer the ship in the right direction — and if they don’t, they’ll go on a merciless hunt for those “just-right” details.

Compatibility: Virgo often hits it off with a similarly thoughtful Taurus, heartfelt and sensitive Cancer, or industrious and tradition-minded Capricorn.

Virgo celebs: Zendaya, Beyonce, Blake Lively, Melissa McCarthy, Michelle Williams, Taraji P. Henson, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Hudson, Amy Poehler

More on Virgo here

Capricorn (December 22 - January 19)

Industrious, practical, reliable, organized, and stable, the cardinal earth sign is constantly inspiring thanks to their perpetual drive and determination to reach their lofty goals. And then they set the bar even higher for themselves, leaving you impressed — and perhaps a bit envious of their no-fail go-getter energy. Their need to put in relentless work in order to get to the top of the professional mountain extends to their personal lives as well, as they tend to be ambitious in looking after their health, families, and long-term friendships.

Compatibility: Cap often hits it off with a similarly pragmatic Taurus, cerebral Virgo, or driven Scorpio.

Capricorn celebs: Michelle Obama, Kate Middleton, Regina King, Zooey Deschanel, and January Jones

More on Capricorn here

Air

Focused on intellectual and social pursuits, sometimes idiosyncratic and changeable air signs are the connectors of the zodiac. Driven to gather and share information, they fare best when they have a specific endgame to pour their mental energy into.

Gemini (May 21 - June 20)

Curious, enthusiastic, clever, and friendly, you can count on the mutable air sign to bring excitement, animated conversation, and fun-loving, lively energy to the table. Data, research, and the top trending news stories are like a go-to sugar fix for Geminis, and they have an appetite for discussing it all with anyone and everyone up for engaging.

Compatibility: Gemini often hits it off with a similarly social, flirtatious Libra, people-loving Aquarius, or dynamic Leo.

Gemini celebs: Angelina Jolie, Octavia Spencer, Aly Raisman, Amy Schumer, Heidi Klum, Natalie Portman, the Olsen twins, Venus Williams, and Zoe Saldana.

More on Gemini here

Libra (September 22 - October 23)

Harmony-seeking social butterflies whose hearts are drawn to art, music, dance, and connecting with others, the cardinal air sign is on a perpetual mission to make life lighthearted, fun, and more fair. They are the designers of the zodiac, eager to take any messy space and infuse it with beauty, and in cases where the scales of justice are off-kilter, they’ll pursue equity.

Compatibility: Libra often connects best with flirty Gemini, people-loving, intellectual Aquarius, or fun-loving Leo.

Libra celebs: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Serena Williams, Brie Larson, Cardi B, Kim Kardashian, Hilary Duff, Bella Hadid, and Halsey

More on Libra here

Aquarius (January 20 - February 18)

Free-spirited, friendly, personable, independent-minded, and humanitarian, the fixed air sign is committed to questioning and perhaps outright rejecting the status quo. Their appetite for community is also inspiring, as is their tendency to question, think, mull, explore, and experiment.

Compatibility: They’re most compatible with similarly social, mentally-charged Geminis, host with the most Libras, or free-spirited Sagittarians.

Aquarius celebs: Kerry Washington, Shakira, Chloe Grace Moretz, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Aniston, and Elizabeth Banks

More on Aquarius here

Water

Family-oriented dreamers and artists, water signs are the deeply-feeling, at least slightly psychic empaths of the zodiac. They tend to let their big hearts run the show and can stay afloat in that sea of emotion when they connect with their spirituality and pour it into their favorite creative outlets.

Cancer (June 21 - July 22)

The cardinal water sign is known for being nurturing, sensitive, compassionate, self-protective, security-seeking and offering, loving, and displaying a goofy, ingratiating sense of humor. They tend to prioritize — and occasionally twist themselves into knots — to make most people in their life feel even slightly more comfortable and secure, so you can rely on the Cancers in your life to offer a shoulder to cry on and freshly baked cookies.

Compatibility: Cancer often sparks with a fellow sensual Scorpio, empathetic Pisces, or similarly sensitive caregiver Virgo.

Cancer celebs: Mindy Kaling, Kristen Bell, Priyanka Chopra, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Solange, Tess Holliday, Lana Del Rey, Malala Yousafzai, Elizabeth Warren, and Margot Robbie

More on Cancer here

Scorpio (October 23 - November 21)

The fixed water sign is extremely private, even secretive, about subjects they consider near and dear to their hearts and being intensely sexual (whether or not they’re willing to open up about that side of them). They are fiercely magnetic, often managing to effortlessly command the spotlight. Spiritual, wise, and enchanting, you can guarantee that the Scorpios in your life will inspire and empower you to pinpoint and live your truth.

Compatibility: Scorpio often hits it off with family-oriented Cancer, empathetic Pisces, or similarly driven Capricorn.

Scorpio celebs: Amandla Stenberg, Katy Perry, Ciara, Gabrielle Union, Emma Stone, Anne Hathaway, and Shailene Woodley

More on Scorpio here

Pisces (February 19 - March 20)

Compassionate, romantic, artistic, intensely empathic, and sensitive, the mutable water sign is the obvious creative of the zodiac. When they channel their emotions into their favorite art form, they feel more centered and enlightened. Empathic and probably the most in tune with the metaphysical of any sign, Pisces are some of the most magical people you’ll ever come in contact with.

Compatibility: Pisces often sparks with a sentimental Cancer, deeply-feeling Scorp, or similarly mellow Taurus.

Pisces celebs: Rihanna, Drew Barrymore, Eva Mendes, Rashida Jones, Olivia Wilde, Emily Blunt, Lupita Nyong'o, and Rebel Wilson

More on Pisces here