The word “tattoo” itself first showed up in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 1777.
The original origin is unclear but most historians trace it back to Captain James Cook, who returned to Europe from a South Pacific expedition in 1769. He described the markings of certain Tahitian tribes. They called the markings “tatau” meaning “to mark” (though Cook originally spelled it “tattaw”).
Most people believe that this is most likely where the current word comes from, eventhough the practice existed for thousands of years, this is the term we’ve all learn to love!