Main definitions of tattoo in English

: tattoo1tattoo2

tattoo1

Pronunciation: /təˈtuː//taˈtuː/

noun

  • 1An evening drum or bugle signal recalling soldiers to their quarters:

    ‘a military tattoo takes place with clockwork precision’
    • ‘From the 17th century drums and trumpets sounded tattoo, originally an instruction to turn off the taps of beer or wine-barrels, to call men back to quarters at the end of the day.’
    1. 1.1British An entertainment consisting of music, marching, and the performance of displays and exercises by military personnel:
      ‘a visit to Edinburgh during the Festival includes a visit to the Tattoo’
      ‘a crash involving two Russian jet fighters at the International Air Tattoo’
      • ‘Brigadier Melville Jameson, the chief executive and producer of the tattoo, said a condition of the appearance in Sydney was that a replica castle facade was built.’
      • ‘You often bump into visiting vets, middle-aged men with flabby muscles and military tattoos.’
      • ‘When the crew lost their training base in October 2000 they decided to raise funds for a more permanent base and so the idea of the military tattoo was born.’
      • ‘There will also be wreath-layings at three memorials to the fallen, in Arnhem, Oosterbeek and at Ginkel Heath, along with a military tattoo.’
      • ‘While the band no longer performs at military tattoos, it is, on occasion, recalled to active duty.’
      • ‘That is the dilemma facing Scottish pipe major Gordon MacKenzie as he prepares for a military tattoo to end all military tattoos - in the desert.’
      • ‘He was thrown off his Honda then hit by another bike in front of hundreds of spectators at a military tattoo in West Bergholt.’
      • ‘Pipe bands and military bands have also gone due to him, the very essence required for a military tattoo.’
      • ‘You can watch the pipers' ankles swirl past at the military tattoo.’
      • ‘‘Some members who have done the tattoo in Scotland have said that to do it in Australia is an even bigger honour,’ he said.’
      • ‘He was at the base preparing to fly as an RAF aircraft passenger in a Queen's Golden Jubilee military tattoo.’
      • ‘It stands on Castle Rock overlooking the city of Edinburgh and is approached across the Esplanade, the site of the annual military tattoo and other ceremonies.’
      • ‘It is almost obligatory for any new Edinburgh resident to wax lyrical over the cultural backdrop that the castle, the festival and the tattoo give to the city.’
      • ‘The top of Blake Street was a wonderful vantage point for watching the many parades, processions and military tattoos that regularly took to the streets.’
      • ‘The term tattoo now refers to a military pageant, often held at night.’
      • ‘Chatham Navy Days was rounded off by a military tattoo in the Historic Dockyard, at which Prince Michael of Kent was the guest of honour.’
      • ‘Edinburgh can keep the military tattoo, all of the modern dance, and most of the London stand-up comedians.’
      • ‘Edinburgh's not the only city to boast an annual military tattoo.’
      festival, fiesta, fete, gala, jamboree, holiday, celebration, party
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A rhythmic tapping or drumming:
      ‘she tapped her fingers in a nervous tattoo’
      • ‘He launches himself into my lap and rains kisses on me, his tail beating a tattoo on the arm of my chair.’
      • ‘All year long the war drums have been beating an insistent tattoo but recently the rhythm seemed to be leading nowhere.’
      • ‘My heart beat a nervous tattoo in my chest, the rest of my body frozen in place.’
      • ‘My fingers drummed a steady tattoo on the desk, impatiently watching the clock as it took forever to tick over to 3: 15.’
      • ‘Rain fell steadily, beating a tattoo on the broad leaves of the tree above his head, like the relentless footsteps of an army of marching warriors.’
      • ‘The vibrant music and the exhilarating beat of the tribals were infectious and soon many in the audience, including yours truly, were beating a tattoo on the floor.’
      • ‘Her heart beats a purple tattoo in her throat and there's a stitch in her side.’
      • ‘We spent the evening there, in her small attic room with rain drumming a staccato tattoo on the roof above and a small fire flickering in the grate.’
      • ‘The day dawned bright and and sunny, but Ethan was awakened by the sound of someone beating a tattoo on his door.’
      • ‘But to my surprise, instead he got out a battered pair of drumsticks, with which he beat a brief tattoo on the top of my head.’
      • ‘Gradually the rigidity left his play and the trademark square cut began to beat out a tattoo.’
      • ‘The other beat an hypnotic tattoo to lure out their lunch.’
      • ‘The endless sound echoed like thunderous footfalls, beating a tattoo on the inside of her skull.’
      • ‘All the time the falling water was beating a tattoo on my head and pouring down my neck.’
      • ‘Alyssa's whole body was shuddering, and Pinine could almost hear her pulse beating out a frantic tattoo.’
      • ‘Someone started to knock on my door, beating out an incessant tattoo.’
      • ‘But I'm already striding back to my apartment, my heart beating a mad tattoo inside my chest.’
      • ‘My boots beat a tattoo against the flagstones on the bridge and the sounds of battle grew louder: the clashing of steel, the sound of battle cries and death screams.’
      • ‘Charles offered him a curt nod, before turning on his heel and briskly striding out, his polished black boots beating out a rapid tattoo on the varnished floor.’
      • ‘His heart pounded quickly, beating out a fierce tattoo in his strong chest as he walked down the paths which wound and turned into dead ends.’

Origin

Mid 17th century (originally as tap-too) from Dutch taptoe!, literally close the tap (of the cask)!.

Pronunciation:

tattoo

/təˈtuː//taˈtuː/

Main definitions of tattoo in English

: tattoo1tattoo2

tattoo2

Pronunciation: /təˈtuː//taˈtuː/

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1 Mark (a part of the body) with an indelible design by inserting pigment into punctures in the skin:

    ‘his cheek was tattooed with a winged fist’
    • ‘A 15-year-old girl would be tattooed on the cheeks when she had mastered the art of weaving.’
    • ‘The four defendants were charged for tattooing their bodies to evade conscription immediately after they were judged physically competent to serve in the military.’
    • ‘On her right arm, starting from her shoulder, her skin was tattooed with black liquid crystal as a snake curling around her arm.’
    • ‘He also cuts himself to mark events in his life and has been tattooed.’
    • ‘They did not wear any footwear or any covering on their upper bodies, which were frequently tattooed.’
    • ‘In Jack's eyes, his mom was unique among tattoo artists because she'd never been tattooed.’
    • ‘Often people come in with really ugly designs and insist that he tattoo them.’
    • ‘First of all, there is a significant difference between tattooing the body, cutting the body, piercing the body, painting the body and writing on the body.’
    • ‘It was kind of gross, but I guess that's as close to human skin as you can get without actually tattooing a human.’
    • ‘Is Miller going to demand that all Haitians and Jamaicans be tattooed with an ID number?’
    • ‘The entire right side of her body was tattooed with road burn and hues of purple, yellow, and blue.’
    • ‘For every year he is held captive he tattoos the back of his hand with a line.’
    • ‘On the street in many an American city, teenage girls have taken to wearing a Hindu-style ‘dot’ between their eyes, and boys to tattooing themselves with Chinese characters they cannot read.’
    • ‘If only we could get them to tattoo themselves with some permanent mark.’
    • ‘In addition, the edges of a girl's mouth was tattooed in a traditional design.’
    • ‘The tattooist testified in court that the man was sober when he was tattooed!’
    • ‘Parents would rather their kids go in for glitter as they feel it is a better option to piercing or tattooing the body.’
    • ‘The other option would be to tattoo the backs of my hands.’
    • ‘Without exception they paint their bodies, they tattoo their bodies, they decorate their bodies and they clothe their bodies.’
    • ‘Pre-wedding nerves can sometimes cause a groom to have a total sense of humour failure when a harmless little prank - shaving his eyebrows, say, or tattooing his cheeks - is played on him.’
    1. 1.1 Make (an indelible design) on a part of the body by inserting pigment into punctures in the skin:
      ‘he has a heart tattooed on his left hand’
      • ‘Since he can make no new memories, meticulous note taking, taking Polaroid pictures, and tattooing important information to his body are Leonard's only way of remembering the past.’
      • ‘‘It's the only brand name riders will actually tattoo onto their arms,’ Ghattas goes on to indicate.’
      • ‘He did everything short of tattooing the organization's logo on his forehead.’
      • ‘One of the drinkers at the bar informed me that Noi is a real butterfly; in fact she has the image of a small butterfly tattooed over her heart.’
      • ‘The little cross tattooed on my left hand is a memory of my Latino friends when I lived in Phoenix.’
      • ‘He has a tattoo on his left hand and a cross tattooed on one of his left fingers.’
      • ‘At twenty-one, Dami turned him into a vampire, and tattooed a red mark onto his forehead.’
      • ‘He escaped lifelong identification as an SS member only because by late 1944 the regiments were no longer organised to carry out the customary process of tattooing conscripts' blood group on their arms.’
      • ‘He may find himself wearing a pink triangle and a nifty new set of numbers tattooed to one of Iris arms.’
      • ‘Iverson famously gave himself the sobriquet ‘The Answer’, tattooing the words on his left arm for emphasis.’
      • ‘The real acid test: during the last two years how many of your customers have tattooed your brand on one of their biceps?’
      • ‘So, I've had conversations before about the probability that I could be paid to tattoo an advert onto my skin.’
      • ‘If this whole admission game does happen again, though, I plan on permanently tattooing the word REJECT on my forehead.’
      • ‘Rock stars are known by their tattoos, and even corporate chieftains proudly ink themselves, tattooing the logo of their brand into their skin as a permanent statement of brand loyalty.’

noun

  • A design made by tattooing:

    ‘they were muscle-bound men covered in scars and tattoos’
    • ‘In its verdict, the court said it was impossible to confirm whether or not the men got the tattoos for the purpose of escaping their military obligation.’
    • ‘A few dark tattoos in strange patterns were visible along the base of her spine.’
    • ‘Jacek was sitting at his desk, sketching out a pattern for a tribal tattoo.’
    • ‘Most of the traditional tattoos such as patterns of lotus, snake, figures of deities, or religious symbol were mostly etched for religious or spiritual purposes.’
    • ‘As a result of these happy drugs, most people who have gotten tattoos have trouble recalling the actual pain at the time.’
    • ‘Surrounding her right eye was a yellow tattoo of a hawk's head.’
    • ‘The chest, back, arms, legs, and tongue are common places for tattoos.’
    • ‘On the bottom floor at the end of the hall was an altar and stood at it was an old man wearing a medallion with the same pattern as the tattoo on Kaiser's arm.’
    • ‘While the appearance and garb of Samoan women are subject to a range of cultural restrictions, full-body tattoos are common on Samoan men.’
    • ‘My tattoos are simple symbols but layered with meaning.’
    • ‘We must be prepared for all possibilities, not just the ones that play into reporters' preconceived notions about hunters, soldiers, tattoos and guns.’
    • ‘On his upper arm he had a tattoo - a simple red band around his arm.’
    • ‘Cholos often have black ink tattoos, commonly involving Catholic imagery, or calligraphy messages or family names.’
    • ‘But for soldiers, getting tattoos has for many years been a way of nurturing a sense of solidarity with their fellow troops.’
    • ‘His left hand was running over his tattoo nervously.’
    • ‘The tattoos showed courage because tattooing is painful, wealth because the tattoo expert was expensive, and beauty because tattooing made the wearer attractive to women.’
    • ‘Teah, 24, a Lieutenant-Colonel, has tattoos of a scorpion and a cobra on each bicep.’
    • ‘It has also been believed that someone with a tattoo in a certain pattern calls upon the spirit corresponding to that image.’
    • ‘That's a pretty nice simple tattoo, plus the location can't be beat.’
    • ‘He explained that whether it is done as a rite of passage or to serve some other purpose, tattoos are common to every society from Africa to China.’

Origin

Mid 18th century: from Tahitian, Tongan, and Samoan ta-tau or Marquesan ta-tu.

Pronunciation:

tattoo

/təˈtuː//taˈtuː/