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tinker Line breaks: tin¦ker
Pronunciation: /ˈtɪŋkə/

Definition of tinker in English:


1(Especially in former times) a person who makes a living by travelling from place to place mending pans and other metal utensils.
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.
1.1British , chiefly derogatory A Gypsy or other person living in an itinerant community.
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.
2British informal A mischievous child: little tinkers, we were
More example sentences
  • When he's finished caressing my windows with as little elbow-grease as is humanly possible, the little tinker always insists that he hasn't got any change.
3An act of attempting to repair something.
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  
Attempt to repair or improve something in a casual or desultory way: 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.
try to mend/improve, work amateurishly on, fiddle with, play (about/around) with, toy with, trifle with, dally with, dabble with, potter about with, fool about/around with;
tinker at/with the edges of, adjust slightly
informal mess about/around with, rearrange the deckchairs on the Titanic
British informal muck about/around with


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

  • We do not know where the word tinker came from, but in the past tinkers played an important role travelling round mending metal utensils. They had, however, a reputation for bad language giving us the expression not give a tinker's curse, sometimes shortened to not give a tinker's. The verb meaning ‘to attempt to repair or improve something in a casual way’ was suggested by the improvized way that tinkers worked, and is found from the mid 17th century.


not give a tinker's curse (or cuss or damn)

informal Not care at all: I don’t give a tinker’s damn if you believe me or not!
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.



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.

Words that rhyme with tinker

blinker, clinker, drinker, finca, freethinker, Glinka, Inca, inker, jinker, shrinker, sinker, Soyinka, stinker, stotinka, thinker, Treblinka, winker

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