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. 2018

Examples from the Web for tinhorn

Historical Examples of tinhorn

  • On the last turn Smith drew another three and Tinhorn another queen.


    Caroline Lockhart

  • Was Tinhorn bluffing or did he have another queen in the “hole”?


    Caroline Lockhart

  • Tinhorn” in particular was disturbed because of their nearness.

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for tinhorn


  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

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