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The Devil's tattoo

Definitions

  • Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • The Devil's tattoo a drumming with the fingers or feet.
    • The Devil's tattoo See under Devil.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • The devil's tattoo the act of drumming with the fingers on a table, &c.; in absence of mind or impatience
    • ***

Etymology

Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Dut. taptoetap, a tap, and toe, which is the prep., Eng. to. Ger. zu, in the sense of 'shut.'

Usage

In literature:

He would have gone on with his devil's tattoo all morning if I had not led him down the path and seen him off the premises.
"The Stark Munro Letters" by J. Stark Munro
I've only just waked up, and he'd play the devil's tattoo on me if he knew the letter hadn't gone.
"Bureaucracy" by Honore de Balzac
Once an ill-stowed clew of the mains'l blew out with a sounding crack, and thrashed a 'devil's tattoo' on the yard.
"The Brassbounder" by David W. Bone
Soane sat on the chair behind the desk, his face over-red and shiny, his heels drumming the devil's tattoo on the tessellated pavement.
"The Moonlit Way" by Robert W. Chambers
Further down the shop the compressed air chisels were beating a devil's tattoo against the rougher castings.
"I Walked in Arden" by Jack Crawford
The hail was beating against my windows, and a punching-bag was drumming the "devil's tattoo" in the next room.
"At Start and Finish" by William Lindsey
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In news:

A Miami rapper with a full back tattoo of Jesus holding a pistol to the Devil's head, Gunplay is the standout member of Rick Ross' Triple C's crew.
REVIEWS Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, 'Beat the Devil's Tattoo.
The scheduled sentencing of a convicted murderer tattooed with devil's horns was adjourned Wednesday when the suspect was inadvertently kept at a state prison.
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