- 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 tinkeringmess, dabble, repair, play, toy, monkey, doodle, putter, niggle, puddle, fix
Examples from the Web for tinkering
Contemporary Examples of tinkering
There is no improvising, no tinkering with the script and very little room for actors to suggest improvements.The Cast of ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ Says Wes Anderson Is a Genius Hardass
February 16, 2014
It refers to what Americans call eau-de-vie, though Austrians have been tinkering with and perfecting the drink for centuries.What to Drink When it’s Cold? The Glory of Austrian Schnaps
January 25, 2014
Among the series currently in production, tinkering with the kids-and-fame formula is still the order of the day.How to Curate Your Tween’s TV Time, From ‘Big Time Rush’ to ‘Dog with a Blog’
March 26, 2013
Social Security's problems are modest anyway compared to Medicare, and tinkering with the cap should fix a good portion of it.Republicans and Entitlements
March 1, 2013
That is why tinkering with Social Security has become “the third rail of American politics.”Obama Gambles His Presidency on Entitlements
Jack W. Germond
July 9, 2011
Historical Examples of tinkering
The carpenter took more than a day, tinkering at an old ship's boat.Romance
Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer
With which confession Hooker resumed his tinkering on the motorcycle.
"Tinkering with that old thing again, I see," coughed Rackliff.
Banasel was engaged in his usual pastime of tinkering with the equipment.The Players
Everett B. Cole
He said it was out of order, and he's tinkering with it the last few days.The Moving Picture Girls at Rocky Ranch
Laura Lee Hope
- (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)