Definition of tinker in English:


Syllabification: tin·ker
Pronunciation: /ˈtiNGkər


1(Especially in former times) a person who travels from place to place mending metal utensils as a way of making a living.
More example sentences
  • The tinkers live by mending pots and pans, telling fortunes and selling horses and ponies at the various fairs throughout the country.
  • For the first time in his life, Yllek felt a sense of awe and wonder regarding his native city, and began to understand the underlying truth behind the stories borne by travelling tinkers and bards through the outlying lands.
  • The travelling folk, or tinkers, were often treated as second-class citizens, with heartbreaking consequences.
1.1A person who makes minor mechanical repairs, especially on a variety of appliances and apparatuses, usually for a living.
More example sentences
  • The more confident tinker may find sport in discharging large capacitors with a well insulated screwdriver (always use an old or borrowed one as this can result in quite nasty pitting of the tip).
1.2British , chiefly derogatory A Gypsy or other person living in an itinerant community.
More example sentences
  • In Scotland and Ireland gypsies were often called tinkers because of their similar wandering life-style.
  • The gypsies or tinkers as they were better known walked around the fair the whole day trying to sell ponnies, strainers and tin cans to reluctant buyers.
  • Quite near us, in Wigton, just beyond the cemetery, was a place called Black Tippoe and that was where gypsies and tinkers used to come and winter there.
2An act of attempting to repair something.
More example sentences
  • I had a brief tinker with my blog template earlier, really to just try and figure out which lines relate to which part of the screen.


[no object] Back to top  
1Attempt to repair or improve something in a casual or desultory way, often to no useful effect: he spent hours tinkering with the car
More example sentences
  • Solutions do not lie in tinkering with the system, fiddling while Earth burns.
  • We shouldn't be tinkering with the checks and balances our founding fathers put in this constitution.
  • Luckily, I was tinkering with a design for a different site and I've decided to steal that for my re-design.
fiddle with, adjust, fix, try to mend, play about with, fool with, futz with;
tamper with, interfere with, mess about with, meddle with
1.1 [with object] archaic Attempt to mend (something) by tinkering.


Middle English (first recorded in Anglo-Latin as a surname): of unknown origin.


not give a tinker's damn

informal Not care at all.
More example sentences
  • If American jets take out Iranian enrichment facilities, I don't give a tinker's damn if the man who gave the go-order was a D or an R.
  • These people don't give a tinker's damn about anyone in uniform.
  • I don't give a tinker's damn whether we withdraw unilaterally or multilaterally.



More example sentences
  • But critics argue the flag is the latest attempt to wrest control from consumers, stifle innovation, create inconvenience, turn tinkerers into criminals and raise prices - all for a technology that won't stop piracy anyway.
  • Only rich tinkerers could afford an automobile before Henry Ford developed an assembly line to make cars cheap and reliable enough for everyone.
  • More than mere tinkerers, record-breakers push the world of possibility beyond the borders of perceived reality.

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walk or travel at a leisurely pace