- a mender of pots, kettles, pans, etc., usually an itinerant.
- an unskillful or clumsy worker; bungler.
- a person skilled in various minor kinds of mechanical work; jack-of-all-trades.
- an act or instance of tinkering: Let me have a tinker at that motor.
- Scot., Irish English.
- a gypsy.
- any itinerant worker.
- a wanderer.
- a beggar.
- chub mackerel.
- to busy oneself with a thing without useful results: Stop tinkering with that clock and take it to the repair shop.
- to work unskillfully or clumsily at anything.
- to do the work of a tinker.
- to mend as a tinker.
- to repair in an unskillful, clumsy, or makeshift way.
Origin of tinker
Related Words for tinkermess, dabble, repair, play, toy, monkey, doodle, putter, niggle, puddle, fix
Examples from the Web for tinker
Contemporary Examples of tinker
You could tinker with them so they would boil but then the cops could take it away for being an ‘altered item’.Tales of a Jailhouse Gourmet: How I learned to Cook in Prison
June 21, 2014
He could spell the names of all his classmates, and he loved building with Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys.The Crossword Puzzle Turns 100: The ‘King of Crossword’ on Its Strange History
December 21, 2013
[Laughs] KROLL: The “Tinker Stinker” I like, in that it felt like a true labeling of something that happens.‘The League’ Roundtable: The Cast Dishes on the Funniest Show You’re Not Watching
November 19, 2013
Oh, sure, if it would attract a few token Republican votes, they were willing to tinker with the price tag.How Could the GOP Have Improved Obamacare?
May 10, 2013
Tinker with these positions, several sages are quoted as saying, and the GOP will be back in the game.Deluded Republican Reformers
February 23, 2013
Historical Examples of tinker
He can tinker up almost anything, and that eliminates the blacksmith.In the Midst of Alarms
He did not go down to the Lake this day, lest he should come near the tinker.What Sami Sings with the Birds
"Nay," quoth the Tinker, shaking his head slowly from side to side.
"That will I not do, even to mine own brother," answered the Tinker.
"But nought have I to pay thee with, good fellow," quoth the Tinker.
- (esp formerly) a travelling mender of pots and pans
- a clumsy worker
- the act of tinkering
- Scot and Irish another name for Gypsy
- British informal a mischievous child
- any of several small mackerels that occur off the North American coast of the Atlantic
- (intr foll by with) to play, fiddle, or meddle (with machinery, etc), esp while undertaking repairs
- to mend (pots and pans) as a tinker
Word Origin for tinker
"mender of kettles, pots, pans, etc.," mid-13c. (as a surname), of uncertain origin. Some connect the word with the sound made by light hammering on metal. The verb meaning "to keep busy in a useless way" is first found 1650s. Tinker's damn "something slight and worthless" is from 1824, probably simply preserving tinkers' reputation for free and casual use of profanity; more elaborate derivations exist, but seem to be just-so stories without evidence.
In addition to the idiom beginning with tinker
- tinker with
- not worth a damn (tinker's damn)