Unlike the imaginative explanations given, the definition goes way back to early machinists. After inspecting a finished manufactured or repaired part, the Toolmaker/machinist would
1 tighten all parts and screws (Screwed)
2 Use Blueing a blue paint lke stain that stuck easaly to metal (blued) and
3 Put his inspectors mark through the blue paint with a sharp scriber (tattooed)
The part has passed inspection, it's been screwed, blued and tattooed and ready for release from the machine shop.
All the definitions I've seen here have a positive connotation, which is completely wrong. The phrase has always had a very definite negative connotation, and means to be supremely screwed, screwed beyond all comprehension. The original phrase was "screwed, blewed and tattooed".
"Screwed" essentially means "cheated" here, much as it does today.
"Blewed" meant "lost or been robbed of". The word's origin is from the German "blauen" so it's actually related to "blue", not "blew", and meant that something had vanished (into the blue). (According to "A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon & Cant" By Charles Godfrey Leland, published in 1889.)
"Tattooed" refers here to a beating with very rapid blows, in the same sense as a military tattoo, which is a rapid pattern on a drum.
So, the phrase literally meant "cheated, robbed and beaten".
I invested my life's savings in a fraudulent investment scam, and now I'm screwed, blued and tattooed.
"Screwed, Blued and Tattooed" comes from various English speaking Navy's, beginning with Europe, and means that you are syphilitic and that you will likely die a slow ugly death.
"Screwed" means the obvious; sexual intercourse.
"Blued" means the administration of the "blue pill"; a tablet containing Mercury, used to treat syphilis which was pandemic for several centuries, and which resulted from the above "Screwed" activity. Sailors are likely the vectors who introduced syphilis to Europe where it became known as "The Pox", was essentially untreatable and the source of much misery and suffering.
"Tattooed" refers to the fact that sailors, at certain times in history, were marked so that they would not be press ganged into service in Navys other than their own. Sailors in those times were essentially "property". The very act of tattooing, done by one sailor to another, generally ensured the further transmission of syphilis, even in the absence of "Screwed". Tattoo's became synonymous with syphilis. Those with tattoo's were to be physically avoided, due to the possibility of cantagion.
And if, when you're a little boy, your grandmother takes you by the hand and drags you away from someone with a tattoo while telling you to "stay clear of that filthy tattooed man", it sticks with you.
You're one of us now you scurvy dog, no woman will have you, there's no life left but the sea. You're Screwed, Blued and Tattooed.
The process of becoming a full-fledged sailor -- have sex before going off to sea, get dressed in a navy uniform and then you get a tattoo.
I use it to describe my summer...Got laid, got drunk, got ink done.
This summer I got screwed, blued and tattooed.