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tin ear

an insensitivity to melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic variety in music.
an insensitivity to subtlety or appropriateness in verbal expression:
a tin ear for clear, precise prose.
Origin of tin ear
1915-20 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for tin ear
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He knew The Oskaloosa Kid well, and he knew him as an ex-pug with a pock marked face, a bullet head, and a tin ear.

    The Oakdale Affair Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Again Bill pinched the sculptor, who inclined his tin ear for counsel.

    Good References E. J. Rath
  • Now git out o' the way o' the dust, all of yez, or Ill put a tin ear on ye!'

    Atlantic Narratives Mary Antin
  • Save for the twisted nose and the tin ear, he was an undeniably fine specimen.

    Good References E. J. Rath
  • “Say, you must have your tin ear on today,” remarked the Captain jovially.

  • Most all of them threatened him with a rectangular head, a tin ear, or a watch pocket under the eye He didn't seem to care much.

    Remarks Bill Nye
  • "I'm afraid his friends are not in society," sighed Mary, as the vision of a tin ear flashed into her mind.

    Good References E. J. Rath
  • Mary now observed that the young man with the tin ear whom she had heard addressed as "Kid" was watching her attentively.

    Good References E. J. Rath
Slang definitions & phrases for tin ear



  1. A police officer's badge; potsy: Boone had to flash his tin (1949+ Police)
  2. A few grains of cocaine (1960s+ Narcotics)
  3. Money (1836+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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