verb (used without object)

to meddle, especially for the purpose of altering, damaging, or misusing (usually followed by with): Someone has been tampering with the lock.
to make changes in something, especially in order to falsify (usually followed by with): to tamper with official records.
to engage secretly or improperly in something.
to engage in underhand or corrupt dealings, especially in order to influence improperly (usually followed by with): Any lawyer who tries to tamper with a jury should be disbarred.

Origin of tamper

1560–70; probably variant of temper (v.)
Related formstam·per·er, nounun·tam·pered, adjective

Synonyms for tamper




a person or thing that tamps.

Origin of tamper

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tamper

Historical Examples of tamper

  • May my curse cling to you, if ever you suffer poverty to tamper with pride.

    Trevethlan: Volume 1

    William Davy Watson

  • It developed that some one on the staff of the Grand Vizier had been bribed by an enemy of the college to tamper with the permits.

  • Do not tamper with that direct emotional reaction to things which is the genius of children.


    Clive Bell

  • Take this as your motto when you are inclined to tamper with wrong: "Who eats with the devil needs a long-handled spoon."

  • He is one of the best and handsomest men I ever saw, and he has now rights in Dora's love no one can tamper with.

    The Man Between

    Amelia E. Barr

British Dictionary definitions for tamper



verb (intr)

(usually foll by with) to interfere or meddle
to use corrupt practices such as bribery or blackmail
(usually foll by with) to attempt to influence or corrupt, esp by briberyto tamper with the jury
Derived Formstamperer, noun

Word Origin for tamper

C16: alteration of temper (verb)




a person or thing that tamps, esp an instrument for packing down tobacco in a pipe
a casing around the core of a nuclear weapon to increase its efficiency by reflecting neutrons and delaying the expansion
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

Word Origin and History for tamper

1560s, figurative use of tamper "to work in clay, etc., so as to mix it thoroughly," probably originally a variant of temper (v.), which is how it was initially spelled. Perhaps it is a dialectal workmen's pronunciation. Related: Tampered; tampering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper