tinker

[ting-ker]
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.
a.
a gypsy.
b.
any itinerant worker.
c.
a wanderer.
d.
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:
1225–75; Middle English tinkere (noun), syncopated variant of tinekere worker in tin

tinkerer, noun
untinkered, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To tinker
Collins
World English Dictionary
tinker (ˈtɪŋkə)
 
n
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.  informal (Brit) a mischievous child
6.  any of several small mackerels that occur off the North American coast of the Atlantic
 
vb (foll by with)
7.  to play, fiddle, or meddle (with machinery, etc), esp while undertaking repairs
8.  to mend (pots and pans) as a tinker
 
[C13 tinkere, perhaps from tink tinkle, of imitative origin]
 
'tinkerer
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Etymonline
Word Origin & History

tinker
"mender of kettles, pots, pans, etc.," 1252 (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 1658. Tinker's damn "something slight and worthless" is from 1824, preserving tinkers'
reputation for free and casual use of profanity.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

tinker

In addition to the idiom beginning with tinker, also see not worth a damn (tinker's damn).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
For them, the news that scientists could soon genetically tinker more easily
  and more extensively is anything but good.
But the details have been fuzzy because it's difficult to tinker with the
  mixture of hydrocarbons that decorate the flies.
If one must tinker with hormone-replacement therapy, one may-briefly, in
  moderation.
The debate over welfare misses the point when all it seeks to do is tinker with
  welfare eligibility, requirements, and sanctions.
Related Words
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature