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[tin-hawrn] /ˈtɪnˌhɔrn/ Slang.
someone, especially a gambler, who pretends to be important but actually has little money, influence, or skill.
cheap and insignificant; small-time:
a tinhorn racket.
Origin of tinhorn
An Americanism dating back to 1880-85; tin + horn Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for tinhorn
Historical Examples
  • On the last turn Smith drew another three and tinhorn another queen.

    'Me-Smith' Caroline Lockhart
  • Was tinhorn bluffing or did he have another queen in the “hole”?

    'Me-Smith' Caroline Lockhart
  • tinhorn” in particular was disturbed because of their nearness.

    The Fighting Shepherdess

    Caroline Lockhart
  • Make it Masterson, an hell make you an every other tinhorn hard to find.

    The Sunset Trail Alfred Henry Lewis
  • But we don't get many men with your background—cop, tinhorn, fighter—who have brains enough for our work.

    Police Your Planet Lester del Rey
  • You wasn't laid out with a crack on the nut, old tinhorn; tell us how it happened.'

    In the Track of the Trades Lewis R. Freeman
  • That makes them mad and the tinhorn bunch keep stirring up trouble.

    Corporal Cameron Ralph Connor
  • Every tinhorn sport has his bundle, you know; but it's only your real gent that can flash a check book.

    Shorty McCabe Sewell Ford
  • When tinhorn dealt him another jack he bought more chips and backed his pair, for tinhorn, as yet, had none in sight.

    'Me-Smith' Caroline Lockhart
  • The next turn showed up a queen for tinhorn and a three-spot for Smith.

    'Me-Smith' Caroline Lockhart
British Dictionary definitions for tinhorn


a cheap pretentious person, esp a gambler with extravagant claims
cheap and showy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tinhorn

"petty but flashy," 1857, from tin + horn (n.); originally of low-class gamblers, from the tin cans they used for shaking dice.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for tinhorn


n,n phr

A petty but flashy gambler, or any person with those characteristics: denunciations of punks, tin-horns, and gyps

[entry form 1857+, variant 1885+; fr the horn-shaped metal can used by chuck-a-luck operators for shaking the dice; the notion of inferiority comes fr the presumed superiority of other, more sophisticated kinds of gambling, and fr the generalized inferiority of tin to other metals]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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