Definition of devil's tattoo in US English:

devil's tattoo

noun

  • The action of idly tapping or drumming with the fingers, etc., upon a table or other object, in an irritating manner, or as a sign of vexation, impatience, or the like; frequently with the verb beat.

Origin

Mid 18th century; earliest use found in John Kidgell (bap. 1722, d. c1780), Church of England clergyman and political writer.