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

Managers will usually tinker with a company’s operations or structure with the goal of selling it or taking it public at a profit. Miriam Gottfried, WSJ, "Private-Equity Firms Create Funds That Are Built to Last," 1 Jan. 2019 While Yamaha has tinkered with a robotic motorcycle for a few years now, many of the recent advancements in this space have instead been coming from startups. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "BMW made a self-driving motorcycle," 12 Sep. 2018 Lanzmann tinkered in politics and journalism, working periodically for the journal France Dimanche, taking on freelance assignments. NBC News, "Claude Lanzmann, director of Holocaust documentary 'Shoah,' dies at age 92," 5 July 2018 Moreover, even if the U.S. is able to put the gene-tinkering cork back in the bottle, wouldn’t that concede a competitive advantage to nations that aren’t so fastidious? Tom Shippey, WSJ, "Science Fiction: Best of 2018," 7 Dec. 2018 Ever the responsible scientist, Oersted tinkered with reproducing this result for several months. Brian Handwerk, Smithsonian, "Sometimes, a Scientific “Eureka!” Moment Really Does Change The World," 7 Mar. 2018 The French hypercar company tinkered with the original 1,500-horsepower sports car to come up with the Bugatti Chiron Sport, a lighter version that’s supposed to be more agile and take corners even faster. Kirsten Korosec, Fortune, "Bugatti Gave Its Classic Chiron Hypercar A Sporty Makeover," 7 Mar. 2018 But if a rogue scientist tinkering quietly in a lab can smash through norms and meddle with the human genome to feed his own ego or scientific curiosity, the worry is that many more dangerous applications of CRISPR could be in store. Julia Belluz, Vox, "Is the CRISPR baby controversy the start of a terrifying new chapter in gene editing?," 30 Nov. 2018 The phone ships with the latest Android 9 Pie, and OnePlus remains one of the few manufacturers that doesn’t unnecessarily tinker with every part of the OS. Jeff Dunn, Ars Technica, "The Ars Holiday Gift Guide 2018—tech and gear for travel that we’d buy," 13 Nov. 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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Statistics for tinker

Last Updated

6 Jan 2019

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on 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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marked by shyness and lack of polish

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