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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 tinker
  • 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.
  • It's one thing to tinker with button layouts on a shooter, but the stick controls are another matter.
  • Climb the giant indoor tree house to enjoy a tea party or tinker with tools in the museum's hands-on garage.
  • Your test question should require them to agree, disagree, or tinker with a stated proposition.
  • On the other hand a sense of the social importance of the tinker's marriage has been steadily growing.
  • First you call up a blueprint on your computer screen and tinker with its shape and colour where necessary.
  • Some have suggested that perhaps it is the chemistry of big brains that leads us to tinker.
British Dictionary definitions for tinker

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 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 tinker

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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