Ongoing Etymologies: Adeena Karasick's eternal phrase "haughty taughty tater tot" underlies some of these humble torn and shredded fibers...
mid-14c., "clad in slashed garments," from O.N. toturr "rag," cognate with O.E. tættec, tætteca "rag, tatter," Low Ger. tater "tatter." The noun is attested from c.1400.
"ragged child, person dressed in old clothes," c.1600, probably from tatter, with fantastic second element, but perhaps also suggested by Tartar, with a contemporary sense of "vagabond, gypsy."
fabric with small and even check pattern, 1891, so called because it was similar to the traditional design of horse blankets, in ref. to Tattersall's, a famous London horse market and gambler's rendezvous, founded 1766 by Richard Tattersall (1724-95). The surname is from the place in Lincolnshire.
"making of knotted lace," 1832, of uncertain origin. In Fr., frivolité.
late 15c., "to stammer, prattle," in Caxton's translation of "Reynard the Fox," probably from M.Flem. tatelen "to stutter," parallel to M.Du., M.L.G., E.Fris. tateren "to chatter, babble," possibly of imitative origin. The meaning "tell tales or secrets" is first recorded 1580s. Sense influenced by tittle.
formed in English 1888 from tattle + tale. Probably patterned on telltale (1540s). A 16c. word for “tattle-tale” was pickthank.
"signal," 1680s, "signal calling soldiers or sailors to quarters at night," earlier tap-to (1644, in order of Col. Hutchinson to garrison of Nottingham), from Du. taptoe, from tap "faucet of a cask" (see tap (2)) + toe "shut." So called because police used to visit taverns in the evening to shut off the taps of casks. Transf. sense of "drumbeat" is recorded from 1755. Hence, Devil's tattoo "action of idly drumming fingers in irritation or impatience" (1803).
"mark the skin with pigment," 1769 (noun and ver, both first attested in writing of Capt. Cook), from a Polynesian noun (e.g. Tahitian and Samoan tatau, Marquesan tatu "puncture, mark made on skin").
1510s, "tangled or matted" (of hair), Scottish, probably related to O.E. tættec "a rag" (see tatter). Sense of "tattered, ragged, shabby" first recorded 1933.
1866, Iron Age civilization of Europe, from the name of a village in Upper Austria, where implements from this period were found.