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 The first wave of free agency is in the books, but the Detroit Lions aren't done tinkering with their roster. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions agree to terms with WR Geremy Davis. Here's how he could help," 26 Mar. 2020 During the three-hour event, repair volunteers will be available to mend clothing, sew on buttons, sharpen scissors and knives, tinker with or rewire electronics and lamps, and glue wooden furniture and ceramics. John Laidler, BostonGlobe.com, "Salem to hold repair cafe on March 28," 10 Mar. 2020 The next target, a man in an Olympique Lyonnais soccer jersey tinkering with a car engine, was not so lucky. Tommy Trenchard, Harper's magazine, "Oceans Apart," 6 Jan. 2020 Their historic regular season was zapped into oblivion by Columbus, but the Bolts wisely spent the offseason tinkering rather than overreacting (and overhauling). The Si Staff, SI.com, "2019–20 NHL Predictions: Stanley Cup Winner, Hart Trophy, Art Ross and More," 2 Oct. 2019 Dense floor plans, tinker’s toys, junky desks, and pizza boxes. Anne Quito, Quartz at Work, "The home garage is the design template for many start-up offices," 30 Sep. 2019 In his spare time George enjoyed tinkering and fixing things. courant.com, "George M. Gerulaitis," 7 Aug. 2019 That is until television executives started tinkering with things. Shannon Ryan, chicagotribune.com, "Stop messing with the Selection Sunday show. Don’t eliminate the drama.," 7 Mar. 2018 Even before anyone began tinkering with quantum hardware, theorists struggled to come up with suitable software. Quanta Magazine, "Quantum Algorithms Struggle Against Old Foe: Clever Computers," 1 Feb. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Her mother, Sandra Makosinski, taught her to read by 3, and her father, Arthur Makosinski, helped her tinker with her creations right next to him at his work bench. Washington Post, "Exceptional girls," 14 Jan. 2020 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

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

30 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tinker.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tinker. Accessed 8 Apr. 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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