Definition of tattoo noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//təˈtuː//
    ; NAmE NAmE//tæˈtuː//
    (pl. tattoos)
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  1. 1a picture or design that is marked permanently on a person’s skin by making small holes in the skin with a needle and filling them with coloured ink His arms were covered in tattoos. She has a tattoo of a tiger on her shoulder. CollocationsClothes and fashionClothes be wearing a new outfit/​bright colours/​fancy dress/​fur/​uniform be (dressed) in black/​red/​jeans and a T-shirt/​your best suit/​leather/​silk/​rags (= very old torn clothes) be dressed for work/​school/​dinner/​a special occasion be dressed as a man/​woman/​clown/​pirate wear/​dress in casual/​designer/​second-hand clothes wear jewellery/(especially US English) jewelry/​accessories/​a watch/​glasses/​contact lenses/​perfume have a cowboy hat/​red dress/​blue suit on put on/​take off your clothes/​coat/​shoes/​helmet pull on/​pull off your coat/​gloves/​socks change into/​get changed into a pair of jeans/​your pyjamas/(especially US English) your pajamasAppearance change/​enhance/​improve your appearance create/​get/​have/​give something a new/​contemporary/​retro look brush/​comb/​shampoo/​wash/​blow-dry your hair have/​get a haircut/​your hair cut/​a new hairstyle have/​get a piercing/​your nose pierced have/​get a tattoo/​a tattoo done (on your arm)/a tattoo removed have/​get a makeover/​cosmetic surgery use/​wear/​apply/​put on make-up/​cosmeticsFashion follow/​keep up with (the) fashion/​the latest fashions spend/​waste money on designer clothes be fashionably/​stylishly/​well dressed have good/​great/​terrible/​awful taste in clothes update/​revamp your wardrobe be in/​come into/​go out of fashion be (back/​very much) in vogue create a style/​trend/​vogue for something organize/​put on a fashion show show/​unveil a designer’s spring/​summer collection sashay/​strut down the catwalk/(North American English also) runway be on/​do a photo/​fashion shoot
  2. 2(especially British English) an outdoor show by members of the armed forces that includes marching, music and military exercises the Edinburgh military tattoo
  3. 3[usually singular] a rapid and continuous series of taps or hits, especially on a drum as a military signal The drummers beat a tattoo each morning. Her fingers tapped a light tattoo on the table. George felt his heart begin to beat a tattoo against his ribs.
  4. Word Originnoun sense 1 mid 18th cent.: from Tahitian, Tongan, and Samoan ta-tau or Marquesan ta-tu. Marquesan is the Polynesian language of the Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific. noun senses 2 to 3 mid 17th cent. (originally as tap-too) from Dutch taptoe!, literally ‘close the tap (of the cask)!’.Extra examples He sported a barbed-wire tattoo on his left arm. I took to wearing a temporary tattoo on my ankle. I’ve decided to get my tattoo removed. She had a tattoo of a swallow on her shoulder. She’s having a tattoo done on her leg.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: tattoo

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