The word tattoo, or tattow in the 18th century, is a loanword from the Samoan word tatau, meaning "to strike".[1][2] The Oxford English Dictionary gives the etymology of tattoo as "In 18th c. tattaow, tattow. From Polynesian (Samoan, Tahitian, Tongan, etc.) tatau. In Marquesan, tatu." Before the importation of the Polynesian word, the practice of tattooing had been described in the West as painting, scarring or staining.[3]
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