That infamous “tattoo”: Learn why taboo and booze come with the word

Tattoos and superstars — like peanut butter and jelly. In just the past few weeks, singers Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus, actresses Angelina Jolie and Megan Fox, basketball sensation Chris “Bird Man” Andersen, and reality-TV dad Jon Gosselin all have showed off new tats.

The practice of tattooing dates back to the Neolithic period. The word, however, is a relatively recent addition to the English language. The fearless British explorer and cartographer Captain James Cook introduced “tattow” — based on the Samoan and Tahitian word tatau — in his journals detailing a mid-18th century expedition around the world.

Chronicling his first voyage, Cook wrote, “Both sexes paint their Bodys, Tattow, as it is called in their Language. This is done by inlaying the Coulour of Black under their skins, in such a manner as to be indelible.” (Cook also separately introduced “taboo” into the English language, borrowed from the Tongan’s “tabu.”)

Mammalian skin is the largest organ in the integumentary system, with three main layers — epidermis (the outer layer), dermis (the middle layer that cushions the body), and the hypodermis (the layer that attaches the rest of the skin to bone and muscle). Indelible tattoos are inked on the dermis.

But there is another, lesser-known meaning for tattoo that derived independently of body markings. “Tattoo” can also mean a military signal — often a drumbeat or bugle call — that signals for soldiers to return to their quarters for the night.

The word is believed to come from the Dutch taptoe. Toe meant “to shut,” and tap referred to the “faucet of a cask.” In the evenings, as the story goes, police would visit taverns to shut off the cask taps.

Three resolutions

The Malay Mail July 4, 2001 | Dr Stephen Covey THE second resolution to overcome the restraining forces of pride and pretension, can be stated as “I resolve to work on character and competence”. 7habitsofhighlyeffectivepeople.net 7 habits of highly effective people

Socrates said: The greatest way to live with honour in this world is to be what we pretend to be. To be, in reality, what we want others to think we are. Much of the world is image-conscious and the social mirror is powerful in creating our sense of who we are. The pressure to appear powerful, successful and fashionable causes some people to become manipulative.

When you are living in harmony with your core values and principles, you can be straight-forward, honest and up-front. And nothing is more disturbing to a person who is full of trickery and duplicity than straight-forward honesty – that’s the one thing they can’t deal with.

I’ve been on an extended media tour with my book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and I’ve become aware of how everyone is very anxious about the entertainment value of the programme. When I was in San Francisco, I thought I would make my interview more controversial by getting into the political arena. But my comments threw the whole conversation off on a tangent. All the call-ins commented on political points. I lost the power to present my own theme and represent my own material.

Whenever we indulge appetites and passions, we are rather easily seduced by pride and pretension. We then start making appearances, playing roles and mastering manipulative techniques. If our definition or concept of ourselves comes from what others think of us – from the social mirror – we will gear our lives to their wants and their expectations and the more we live to meet the expectations of others, the more weak, shallow and insecure we become.

A junior executive, for example, may desire to please his superiors, colleagues and subordinates, but he discovers that these groups demand different things of him. He feels that if he is true to one, he may offend the other. So he begins to play games and put on appearances to get along or to get by, to please or appease.

In the long run, he discovers that by trying to become “all things to all people,” he eventually becomes nothing to everyone. He is found out for who and what he is. He then loses self-respect and the respect of others.

Effective people lead their lives and manage their relationships around principles, ineffective people attempt to manage their time around priorities and their tasks around goals. Think effectiveness with people and efficiency with things.

When we examine anger, hatred, envy, jealousy, pride and prejudice or any other negative emotion or passion – we often discover that at their root lies the desire to be accepted, approved and esteemed by others. web site 7 habits of highly effective people

We then seek a shortcut to the top. But the bottom line is that there is no shortcut to lasting success. The law of the harvest still applies, in spite of all the talk of “how to beat the system.” Several years ago, a student visited me in my office when I was a faculty member at the Marriott School of Management, Brigham Young University. He asked me how he was doing in my class. After developing some rapport, I confronted him directly: “You didn’t really come in to find out how you are doing in the class. You came in to find out how I think you are doing. You know how you are doing in the class far better than I do, don’t you?” He said that he did, and so I asked him, “How are you doing?” He admitted that he was just trying to get by. He had a host of reasons and excuses for not studying as he ought, for cramming and for taking shortcuts. He came in to see if it was working.

If people play roles and pretend long enough, giving in to their vanity and pride, they will gradually deceive themselves. They will be buffeted by conditions, threatened by circumstances and other people. They will then fight to maintain their false front. But if they come to accept the truth about themselves, following the laws and principles of the harvest, they will gradually develop a more accurate concept of themselves.

The effort to be fashionable puts one on a treadmill that seems to go faster and faster, almost like chasing a shadow. Appearances alone will never satisfy, therefore, to build our security on fashions, possessions or status symbols may prove to be our undoing.

Edwin Hubbell Chapin said: “Fashion is the science of appearances, and it inspires one with the desire to seem rather than to be.” Certainly, we should be interested in the opinions and perceptions of others so that we might be more effective with them, but we should refuse to accept their opinion as a fact and then act or react accordingly.

Next week: The third resolution Dr Stephen Covey


  1. Naya -  September 5, 2015 - 2:34 pm

    Getting a tattoo is something personal. You can have your own oppinion but you don’t get to descide if it’s a waste or not. It’s an art that means something. And nobody is a weirdo for having a tattoo. Just because you don’t like tattoos doesn’t mean others are weird or try to hard.

  2. Little red -  May 23, 2014 - 6:56 pm

    There’s nothing wrong with tattoos. It’s away for people to tell their stories of their lives. It’s like speaking from your heart. Not to mention they are sexy. :)

  3. dedonarrival -  April 16, 2014 - 4:03 pm

    Most tattoos from ten feet away look like the first stages of bubonic plague

  4. bubba bob -  July 10, 2010 - 2:01 pm

    I’m 58. I’ve ridden motorcycles since I was old enough to drive and have made my living at sea most of my life. A lady frend, upon close examination, commented “You have NO tattoos!” I explained to her that REAL MEN wear scars.

  5. Cheerio -  July 9, 2010 - 1:31 am

    I HATE Tatoo’s too guys!!

  6. Esmeralda -  July 8, 2010 - 6:57 am

    Cool…just got the info from you that Captain James Cook was the one who introduced tatoos….nice writing…!!!

  7. me -  July 8, 2010 - 3:19 am

    tattoos are gross

  8. dodododo -  July 8, 2010 - 1:57 am

    whatever are you talking about????

  9. Just wondering -  July 8, 2010 - 1:53 am

    @ so there
    i agree but i was just wondering – WHY are there so many weirdos these days???

  10. so there -  July 8, 2010 - 1:51 am


  11. me -  July 8, 2010 - 1:31 am

    @ schmoo, THE GOOD GUYS & DAVE: me agrees!!

  12. Pat -  July 7, 2010 - 5:56 pm

    Booze is what was coming out of the casks the Dutch police were shutting

  13. DAVE -  July 7, 2010 - 5:53 pm


  14. THEGOODGUYS -  July 7, 2010 - 5:41 pm


  15. LittleMissLee -  July 7, 2010 - 5:31 pm

    Oh yeah!!! ALRIGHT!!! The Beatles could’ve rocked the night!

  16. schmoo -  July 7, 2010 - 5:15 pm

    Interesting stuff…but i hate tattoos.

  17. mongkut -  July 7, 2010 - 4:50 pm

    What of the word booze that is promised in the title?

  18. vanessa -  July 7, 2010 - 4:29 pm

    omg this is so good

  19. magic texta -  July 7, 2010 - 3:39 pm

    Neat info

    • To -  May 11, 2016 - 8:34 pm

      The lord warned us not to mark your body for it is the temple of him

      • Kilroy -  May 11, 2016 - 8:36 pm

        The bible teach us not to mark our body for it is our temple and it belongs to God


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