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tramp stamp

noun; compounding
tramp stamp, N A tattoo on/across the lower back [Rhyming compound formed from roots tramp and stamp]
 
Used as a noun to describe the tattoo on the lower back, giving the person the derogatory (and rhyming) association with a tramp, meaning 'loose, trashy woman.'
Etymology : This rhyming compound means 'a tattoo across the lower back'. The relation of 'stamp' to 'tattoo' is obvious. The reason this particular tattoo style gained the 'tramp' root is due to the fact that many girls (or in this case, guys) that have these tattoos tend to display them readily (ie hike up their shirt, wear low cut pants, display their waste/lower back), a practice that is considered 'trampy' by today's standards.. The root stamp comes from Old English stempan, meaning 'to pound in a stamp, mortar' (Online Etymological Dictionary). The act of 'pounding mortar' evolved to mean 'pounding an impression'. The tattoo is literally a 'permanent impression on the skin' (verb to noun conversion). The etymology of tramp is difficult to track. The original form is from ME trampe (OED), meaning 'to stamp heavily around'. It has taken on a more negative connotation in recent years, with tramp being used to classify something that is 'dirty' or 'cheap', or, more recently, 'slutty', which is the form seen in tramp stamp.
Source : 'He had a tramp stamp!' - Coworker - June 2008
Last modified: 22 November 2008


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