[ ting-ker ]
/ ˈtɪŋ kər /


verb (used without object)

verb (used with object)

to mend as a tinker.
to repair in an unskillful, clumsy, or makeshift way.

Nearby words

  1. tingly,
  2. tinhorn,
  3. tinia,
  4. tinian,
  5. tink,
  6. tinker with,
  7. tinker's cuss,
  8. tinker's dam,
  9. tinker's damn,
  10. tinker's weed

Origin of tinker

1225–75; Middle English tinkere (noun), syncopated variant of tinekere worker in tin

Related formstin·ker·er, nounun·tin·kered, adjective

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

Examples from the Web for tinker

British Dictionary definitions for tinker


/ (ˈtɪŋkə) /



(intr foll by with) to play, fiddle, or meddle (with machinery, etc), esp while undertaking repairs
to mend (pots and pans) as a tinker
Derived Formstinkerer, noun

Word Origin for tinker

C13 tinkere, perhaps from tink tinkle, of imitative origin

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 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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with tinker


In addition to the idiom beginning with tinker

  • tinker with

also see:

  • not worth a damn (tinker's damn)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.