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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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British Dictionary definitions for tinkerer

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 tinkerer

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 tinkerer
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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