tin·​ker | \ ˈtiŋ-kər How to pronounce tinker (audio) \
tinkered; tinkering\ ˈtiŋ-​k(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce tinkering (audio) \

Definition of tinker

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to work in the manner of a tinker especially : to repair, adjust, or work with something in an unskilled or experimental manner : fiddle always tinkering with his car

transitive verb

: to repair, adjust, or experiment with


plural tinkers

Definition of tinker (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a usually itinerant mender of household utensils
b : an unskillful mender : bungler
2 chiefly Irish, sometimes offensive : romani sense 1

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Other Words from tinker


tinkerer \ ˈtiŋ-​kər-​ər How to pronounce tinkerer (audio) \ noun

Examples of tinker in a Sentence

Verb He was tinkering in the garage.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Hensley was tinkering with pumps and such when the phone rang. Sarah Bowman, IndyStar, "113 tons of dead fish: Indiana's worst environmental disaster, 20 years later," 19 Dec. 2019 Airlines are continually tinkering with food and beverage programs, both to entice passengers and to shave off cargo weight for efficiency’s sake. Margaret Rhodes, Fortune, "The Most Important Attribute for Architects in the Modern Age," 10 Dec. 2019 But winemakers are tinkering anyway — and everyone is buying backup generators. Washington Post, "Despite fires, California wine is doing just fine - for now," 9 Nov. 2019 The school is also tinkering with creating a curriculum for nursing. Michelle Cheng, Quartz at Work, "A popular coding school now offers students mental health services," 24 Oct. 2019 Summer-long farewell On Friday morning, Morris was still tinkering with the campground's plumbing, but expected the problem wouldn't delay the campground's opening. Scott Craven, azcentral, "A summer-long goodbye: Bedrock City welcomes final visitors before taking off as Raptor Ranch," 14 June 2019 Jefferson officials, meanwhile, have been tinkering with Carnival for two decades but remain unsatisfied with the overall quality of the Metairie parades and spectator experience. Drew Broach, nola.com, "Here’s the Mardi Gras season parade route in Kenner - and the first krewe that will roll on it," 12 June 2019 Tech companies are tinkering with drone deliveries all over the world. Mike Cherney, WSJ, "Delivery Drones Cheer Shoppers, Annoy Neighbors, Scare Dogs," 26 Dec. 2018 After achieving flight with a gargantuan, 33-foot flexible aircraft last year, St. Clair has been slowly tinkering with the Flex-Plane concept. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "The 'Flex-Plane' Drone Flaps Its Wings Like a Pterodactyl," 28 Nov. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Things may be a bit slow in the first half while Cassidy tinkers with his lines and pairs, assesses options young and old on the wings, and pieces together his back line. BostonGlobe.com, "(Debee Tlumacki for The Boston Globe)," 15 Sep. 2019 In addition to the trade between the Dolphins and Saints sending Kiko Alonso to New Orleans, plenty of teams around the league were making a few final tinkers to their rosters ahead of opening week. Khadrice Rollins, SI.com, "NFL Waiver Wire Tracker: Who Has Been Picked Up After Cut Day?," 1 Sep. 2019 The Budget Support Act, which was approved Tuesday, also included tinkers to public safety, transportation and other portions of the spending plan. Perry Stein, Washington Post, "D.C. Council moves to add money to schools that faced budget cuts," 18 June 2019 Dennis Schminke, a Republican Party activist who worked at Hormel Foods for 38 years, tinkers in his garage in Austin, Minn. Dan Balz, Washington Post, "Loyalty, unease in Trump’s Midwest," 10 May 2018 Many channels have suffered steep declines in ad sales as YouTube — an arm of Alphabet Inc.’s Google — tinkers with which videos are eligible for publicity. Bloomberg, latimes.com, "YouTube offers its stars the option to sell subscriptions," 22 June 2018 Many channels have suffered steep declines in ad sales as Google’s YouTube tinkers with which videos are eligible for publicity. Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg.com, "YouTube Is Offering a Talent Option to Sell Subscriptions," 22 June 2018 The pair tinker and exhibit above an old rubber-and-metals workshop in Mullae-dong, a run-down industrial neighbourhood of Seoul. The Economist, "Prophets and profitsIn South Korea fortune-telling will soon be a $3.7bn business," 24 Feb. 2018 The Dodgers also made a few tinkers to their coaching staff, and could lose bullpen coach Josh Bard to the Yankees. Andy Mccullough, latimes.com, "With Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton off the market, where will Dodgers turn?," 11 Dec. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tinker.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of tinker


1592, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for tinker


Middle English tinkere

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Time Traveler for tinker

Time Traveler

The first known use of tinker was in the 13th century

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Statistics for tinker

Last Updated

17 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tinker.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tinker. Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for tinker


How to pronounce tinker (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tinker

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to try to repair or improve something (such as a machine) by making small changes or adjustments to it



English Language Learners Definition of tinker (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who in the past traveled to different places and made money by selling or repairing small items (such as pots and pans)


tin·​ker | \ ˈtiŋ-kər How to pronounce tinker (audio) \
tinkered; tinkering

Kids Definition of tinker

: to repair or adjust something in an unskilled or experimental manner

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More from Merriam-Webster on tinker

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tinker

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tinker

Spanish Central: Translation of tinker

Nglish: Translation of tinker for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tinker for Arabic Speakers

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