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tinker

Line breaks: tin¦ker
Pronunciation: /ˈtɪŋkə
 
/

Definition of tinker in English:

noun

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.

verb

[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.
Synonyms
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

Origin

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

More
  • 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.

Phrases

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

1
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.

Derivatives

tinkerer

1
noun
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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