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

Examples of tinker in a Sentence

Verb He was tinkering in the garage.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb At least for the next year, there’s little that liberal activists can do to really tinker with the abacus in Washington; the seats here are decided until November of 2022. Philip Elliott, Time, "Trump Is Gone, But He’s Still Energizing The Resistance," 29 Mar. 2021 To get there, this barebones F1 version that developers can tinker with will be the first place to start. Chris Smith, BGR, "Google might soon release the first beta of its mysterious OS that will replace Android," 22 Mar. 2021 But the technique is more playful than trying to beat the game: one mod can fill Doom with characters from The Simpsons while another will tinker with the game engine to add a capture-the-flag match in Battlefield. David Silverberg, Popular Mechanics, "Game Breaking: How Cheat Codes Changed Video Games Forever," 27 Sep. 2020 That map, presented in 1979, was celebrated, but over the years it has been repeatedly tinkered with, and has evolved into a visual mess. Raffi Khatchadourian, The New Yorker, "The M.T.A. vs. a D.I.Y. Cartographer," 24 Feb. 2020 Through the years, Djokovic has switched to a gluten-free and dairy-free diet, practiced meditation and visualization and tinkered repeatedly — and not always successfully — with his service motion. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, "For Novak Djokovic, the Goal Is Still Titles, but ‘More Than That’," 25 Jan. 2020 Departments now have until March to tinker with their finances and figure out how to shed 3.5% of their draw on the general fund by finding new sources of revenue and places to cut costs. Dominic Fracassa, SFChronicle.com, "SF mayor orders budget cuts as city takes on homelessness, mental illness," 17 Dec. 2019 Coach Brad Stevens continued to tinker and tweak his bench rotations, looking for one that would click. BostonGlobe.com, "Related: Observations from the Celtics’ loss to the Kings," 18 Nov. 2019 But performer and poet Caroline M. Watson has been tinkering and tweaking anyway. Nicole Blackwood, chicagotribune.com, "‘Grandma’s House’ open mic builds chosen family from poetry performance," 25 June 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This certainly isn’t a knock against Apple as the current design is already incredibly minimalistic, a fact which doesn’t leave Apple a lot of room to tinker with the design. Yoni Heisler, BGR, "Apple just leaked two unreleased products in its latest beta software," 25 Mar. 2021 Designers continued to tinker, as crowns grew higher and materials became sturdier. John Lingan, Smithsonian Magazine, "How the Baseball Cap Went From Athletic Gear to Fashion Statement," 19 Mar. 2021 Gonzalez has six weeks to tinker before meaningful matches arrive. Aaron Kasinitz, Dallas News, "3 ways FC Dallas can get closer to winning an MLS Cup in 2021," 5 Mar. 2021 The reason to pick a semi-automatic machine is to get some push-button assistance in creating a consistent shot of espresso without giving up the desire to tinker with your creation. Merlisa Lawence Corbett, chicagotribune.com, "Cheap espresso machines vs. expensive espresso machines," 7 Mar. 2021 States have been able to customize and tinker with distribution plans in part because the federal government did not issue prescriptive guidelines for where and who the vaccine should go to. Noah Weiland, New York Times, "One and Done: Why People Are Eager for Johnson & Johnson’s Vaccine," 4 Mar. 2021 The Senate then should work with the House, tinker with its language and send it back to the House. Philip Elliott, Time, "Why a Debate on the Minimum Wage Could Spark a D.C. Meltdown," 2 Mar. 2021 But any effort to tinker with the oaks was sure to cause controversy. al, "Restoration work to begin soon on Mobile’s Bienville Square," 24 Feb. 2021 When using other grains, a brewer has to tinker with recipes, enzyme cocktails and fermentation temperatures to come out with a beer that has body, texture and that frothy head of foam. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, "Bay Area breweries are going all in on gluten-free beer, and this time, they actually taste good," 23 Feb. 2021

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


1655, 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

4 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tinker.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tinker. Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for tinker



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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