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 Dylan is going to tinker with his songs, even the standards, and for those who aren’t fine with that... Chris Kaltenbach, baltimoresun.com, "What to expect when Bob Dylan plays UMBC Tuesday night, according to fans who’ve seen him over the years," 7 Nov. 2019 Humans have certainly tinkered with the recipes of life before. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Scientists Assemble Frog Stem Cells Into First ‘Living Machines’," 13 Jan. 2020 Lee and her colleagues tinkered with every step, including laboriously trying out different stints in the microwave. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Scientists Pumped Ovarian Tissue Full of Sugar and Microwaved It. Here’s Why," 10 Dec. 2019 Harbaugh has tinkered with all of those during his time at Michigan, searching for the best possible solution. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football's Jim Harbaugh has embraced change before. He must now to do it again," 3 Dec. 2019 The Bengals have tinkered with the blocking game plan upfront by going with man vs. man blocking. Tyler Dragon, Cincinnati.com, "What we learned: Cincinnati Bengals make franchise history with loss to Oakland Raiders," 17 Nov. 2019 Through the first three days of training camp, coach Gregg Popovich has tinkered with all sorts of lineup configurations. Jeff Mcdonald, ExpressNews.com, "Spurs notebook: Back in fold, Gay game for anything," 3 Oct. 2019 As for Europe’s capital markets -- which are severely underdeveloped compared with to the U.S. -- the task is to stop tinkering around the edges and undertake meaningful reforms in sensitive areas like insolvency laws and taxes. Jonathan Stearns, Bloomberg.com, "What’s Wrong With Europe and How Its New Chief Plans to Fix It," 29 Nov. 2019 After making a trip to the Western Conference finals, any franchise would be tempted to tinker around the edges and run it all back. Rob Mahoney, SI.com, "Rather Than Separate Their Stars, the Blazers Bet on Their Foundation," 19 July 2019 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

3 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tinker.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tinkerer. Accessed 16 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

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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