tattoo

noun (1)
tat·​too | \ ta-ˈtü How to pronounce tattoo (audio) \
plural tattoos

Definition of tattoo

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1 : a mark, figure, design, or word intentionally fixed or placed on the skin:
a : one that is indelible and created by insertion of pigment under the skin
b : one that is temporarily applied to the skin, resembles a permanent tattoo, and usually lasts for a few days to several weeks
c : one that is composed of scar tissue intentionally created by cutting, abrading, or burning the skin
2 : the act of tattooing : the fact of being tattooed

tattoo

verb (1)
tattooed; tattooing; tattoos

Definition of tattoo (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

1 : to mark the skin with (a tattoo) tattooed a flag on his chest
2 : to mark or color (the skin) with tattoos

tattoo

noun (2)
plural tattoos

Definition of tattoo (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : a rapid rhythmic rapping
2a : a call sounded shortly before taps as notice to go to quarters
b : outdoor military exercise given by troops as evening entertainment

tattoo

verb (2)
tattooed; tattooing; tattoos

Definition of tattoo (Entry 4 of 4)

transitive verb

1 : to beat or rap rhythmically on : drum on
2 baseball, informal
a : to hit (a pitched ball) very hard An RBI single followed, and then Rougned Odor tattooed the first pitch he saw for a three-run homer.— Derrick Goold
b : to get many hits and runs against (a pitcher) The Twins tattooed him for four more in the third …— Brian Murphy

intransitive verb

: to give a series of rhythmic taps

Other Words from tattoo

Verb (1)

tattooer noun
tattooist \ ta-​ˈtü-​ist How to pronounce tattoo (audio) \ noun

Did you know?

The less common noun tattoo comes from the Dutch colloquialism "tap toe," which can be translated as "turn off the tap," though it was most often used to mean something like "Shut up! Cease!" The Dutch began using the word taptoe for a drum beat, and then English speakers borrowed the term (changing it slightly, to taptoo and, eventually, to tattoo). It was used especially by the military to name a drum beat (or possibly a bugle call) that signaled the day's end. This taptoo most likely led to our taps, a term for the final bugle call at night in the military.

First Known Use of tattoo

Noun (1)

1777, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Verb (1)

1769, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun (2)

circa 1627, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

1780, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for tattoo

Verb (1)

Tahitian tatau, noun, tattoo

Noun (2)

alteration of earlier taptoo, from Dutch taptoe, from the phrase tap toe! taps shut!

Learn More About tattoo

Time Traveler for tattoo

Time Traveler

The first known use of tattoo was circa 1627

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Dictionary Entries Near tattoo

tattletale gray

tattoo

tattoo parlor

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Statistics for tattoo

Cite this Entry

“Tattoo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tattoo. Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for tattoo

tattoo

verb
tat·​too | \ ta-ˈtü How to pronounce tattoo (audio) \
tattooed; tattooing

Kids Definition of tattoo

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to mark the body with a picture or pattern by using a needle to put color under the skin

tattoo

noun
plural tattoos

Kids Definition of tattoo (Entry 2 of 2)

: a picture or design made by putting color under the skin

tattoo

transitive verb
tat·​too | \ ta-ˈtü How to pronounce tattoo (audio) \

Medical Definition of tattoo

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to mark or color (the skin) with tattoos

tattoo

noun
plural tattoos

Medical Definition of tattoo (Entry 2 of 2)

: an indelible mark or figure fixed upon the body by insertion of pigment under the skin or by production of scars

More from Merriam-Webster on tattoo

Nglish: Translation of tattoo for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tattoo for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tattoo

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