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tinker

[ting-ker] /ˈtɪŋ kər/
noun
1.
a mender of pots, kettles, pans, etc., usually an itinerant.
2.
an unskillful or clumsy worker; bungler.
3.
a person skilled in various minor kinds of mechanical work; jack-of-all-trades.
4.
an act or instance of tinkering:
Let me have a tinker at that motor.
5.
Scot., Irish English.
  1. a gypsy.
  2. any itinerant worker.
  3. a wanderer.
  4. a beggar.
verb (used without object)
7.
to busy oneself with a thing without useful results:
Stop tinkering with that clock and take it to the repair shop.
8.
to work unskillfully or clumsily at anything.
9.
to do the work of a tinker.
verb (used with object)
10.
to mend as a tinker.
11.
to repair in an unskillful, clumsy, or makeshift way.
Origin
1225-1275
1225-75; Middle English tinkere (noun), syncopated variant of tinekere worker in tin
Related forms
tinkerer, noun
untinkered, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for tinkering
  • He urged that it was an undesirable thing to be always tinkering with this particular trade-Times.
  • And once again, only a little tinkering with genes may have been required to get the tube to split.
  • The best thing: with a little tinkering, you can change and customize the searches.
  • tinkering is natural with something you make over and over, and my blueberry muffins haven't been immune to the process.
  • They are tinkering with the texture of the metals and coatings to see what works best in certain harsh environments.
  • Instead, they're tinkering with the timing of plants' own genes to trick them into reproducing without fertilization.
  • The truth is that our system is so strangled from government tinkering that it is no longer a functioning market.
  • tinkering with it, they claim, will not make much difference and could do harm.
  • Apparently because he kept revising and tinkering with them.
  • His recipe was sturdy enough to accommodate such tinkering.
British Dictionary definitions for tinkering

tinker

/ˈtɪŋkə/
noun
1.
(esp formerly) a travelling mender of pots and pans
2.
a clumsy worker
3.
the act of tinkering
4.
(Scot & Irish) another name for Gypsy
5.
(Brit, informal) a mischievous child
6.
any of several small mackerels that occur off the North American coast of the Atlantic
verb
7.
(intransitive) foll by with. to play, fiddle, or meddle (with machinery, etc), esp while undertaking repairs
8.
to mend (pots and pans) as a tinker
Derived Forms
tinkerer, noun
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for tinkering

tinker

n.

"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
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Idioms and Phrases with tinkering

tinker

In addition to the idiom beginning with tinker also see: not worth a damn (tinker's damn)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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14
17
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