tin·ker | \ ˈtiŋ-kər \
tinkered; tinkering\ˈtiŋ-k(ə-)riŋ \

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



Definition of tinker (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a usually itinerant mender of household utensils

b : an unskillful mender : bungler

2 chiefly Irish : gypsy

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Other words from tinker


tinkerer \ˈtiŋ-kər-ər \ noun

Examples of tinker in a Sentence


He was tinkering in the garage.

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But in Samara on Thursday, the Bayern Munich player hobbled off after just 31 minutes, forcing Pekerman to tinker with his team after losing one of his key players. Afp, chicagotribune.com, "Pekerman: 'I'm extremely concerned' about possible Rodriguez injury," 28 June 2018 But tax experts warn that many people need to take time to tinker with the amount being withheld from their paychecks for income taxes now in order to have enough time to fix any potential big trouble spots ahead. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "You might need to have more money withheld from your paycheck," 31 May 2018 In their future work, the SCBI will continue to tinker with artificial insemination techniques to increase reproductive success. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "New Artificial Insemination Technique Successfully Breeds Critically Endangered Scimitar-Horned Oryx," 10 July 2018 The law takes effect in 2020, but in some ways, Thursday's vote is only the beginning, as business interest groups work to tinker with the legislation's details before then. Issie Lapowsky, WIRED, "California Unanimously Passes Historic Privacy Bill," 28 June 2018 After the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office pointed that out a few months ago, lawmakers started to tinker with ways to stash away more cash. John Myers, latimes.com, "California lawmakers craft new ways to stash away budget cash," 17 June 2018 The two siblings also loved to tinker with the many lawnmowers and weed eaters Clinton Troyer owned as part of his landscaping business in La Grande, their sister said. Shane Dixon Kavanaugh, OregonLive.com, "Boys who died rafting Oregon river lived for adventures with Dad," 5 June 2018 Kapler contends the Phillies have been better at shifting since April and will continue to tinker as necessary. Scott Lauber, Philly.com, "Shift change: Jake Arrieta's criticism may impact the way Gabe Kapler positions Phillies' defenders," 5 June 2018 Then again, mamaw's wrath for tinkering with her generations-old family recipe may not be worth taking that risk. Southern Living, "The Chicken Salad Ingredient You Should Always Add Last," 26 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 There, in a stone house about a quarter-mile from the Lebanese border, Mr. Komarovsky, 55, tinkers with his latest culinary creations: a whole-eggplant dish roasted in his pizza oven, or a free-form babka with quince plucked from his garden. Joan Nathan, New York Times, "An Israeli Chef Looks to the Landscape," 8 Sep. 2017 Tax cuts have emerged as an issue ahead of Germany’s national election next month, with both major parties promising various timid tinkers to the personal income-tax rate and exemptions. Joseph C. Sternberg, WSJ, "Europe’s Taxes Aren’t as Progressive as Its Leaders Like to Think," 3 Aug. 2017 Segar tinkers with Photoshop to produce special effects, like enhancing the colors of a sunset or softening the overall image. Janice Steinhagen, Courant Community, "Portrait Photographer Babies Her Tiny Subjects," 12 July 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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for tinker


Middle English tinkere

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Phrases Related to tinker

give a tinker's damn

worth a tinker's damn

Statistics for tinker

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for tinker

The first known use of tinker was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for tinker



English Language Learners Definition of tinker

 (Entry 1 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)



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

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


tin·ker | \ ˈtiŋ-kər \
tinkered; tinkering

Kids Definition of tinker

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

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Comments on tinker

What made you want to look up tinker? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


alleviating pain or harshness

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