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tat·too 1 (tă-t)
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n. pl. tat·toos
1. A signal sounded on a drum or bugle to summon soldiers or sailors to their quarters at night.
2. A display of military exercises and music offered as evening entertainment.
3. A continuous, even drumming or rapping.
v. tat·tooed, tat·too·ing, tat·toos
v.intr.
To beat out an even rhythm, as with the fingers.
v.tr.
To beat or tap rhythmically on; rap or drum on.

[Alteration of Dutch taptoe, tap-shut (closing time for taverns), tattoo : tap, spigot, tap (from Middle Dutch tappe) + toe, shut (from Middle Dutch; see de- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots).]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
tat·too 2 (tă-t)
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n. pl. tat·toos
1. A permanent mark or design made on the skin by a process of pricking and ingraining an indelible pigment or by raising scars.
2. A design made on the skin with a temporary dye such as henna or ink.
tr.v. tat·tooed, tat·too·ing, tat·toos
1. To mark (the skin) with a tattoo.
2. To form (a tattoo) on the skin.

[From Tahitian tatau and kindred Polynesian words, all from Proto-Polynesian *tatau.]

tat·tooer n.
tat·tooist n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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