[ tin-hawrn ]

  1. someone, especially a gambler, who pretends to be important but actually has little money, influence, or skill.

  1. cheap and insignificant; small-time: a tinhorn racket.

Origin of tinhorn

An Americanism dating back to 1880–85; tin + horn

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use tinhorn in a sentence

  • And there was music in all the saloons and restaurants; it rose and fell with the noise of the tin horn and the hoot of the happy.

    Ancestors | Gertrude Atherton
  • He rapped on the ground with his staff and a small page appeared, wearing a pointed cap and carrying a tin horn.

    The Story of the Big Front Door | Mary Finley Leonard
  • They set the table for dinner, and at noon Barbara blew the big tin horn to call her father and brother.

    Historic Adventures | Rupert S. Holland
  • Slander iz played on a tin horn, while truth steals forth like the dieing song ov a lute.

    Josh Billings, Hiz Sayings | Henry Wheeler Shaw
  • The faint tinkle of bells and the swelling toots of a tin horn were announcing the approach of Santa Claus.

British Dictionary definitions for tinhorn


/ (ˈtɪnˌhɔːn) US slang /

  1. a cheap pretentious person, esp a gambler with extravagant claims

  1. 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