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

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
tinkerer noun


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plural tinkers
: a usually itinerant mender of household utensils
: an unskillful mender : bungler
chiefly Ireland, sometimes offensive : romani sense 1

Examples of tinker in a Sentence

Verb He was tinkering in the garage.
Recent Examples on the Web
And what is the latest thing with which he’s been tinkering? George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Apr. 2024 Figuring out forward lines: Ever since the Panthers acquired Vladimir Tarasenko and Kyle Okposo at the trade deadline, Maurice has been consistently tinkering with his forward lines to figure out how to best maximize production from his players. Jordan McPherson, Miami Herald, 8 Apr. 2024 The new owners have spent the last few weeks quietly readying the space, tinkering with recipes; the breakfast sandwich and jerk chicken sandwich are now served on Jamaican-style coco bread with a golden sheen of crust. Stephanie Breijo, Los Angeles Times, 20 Mar. 2024 Two Novembers ago, Harrison Chase was just another rank and file engineer at an AI startup, tinkering on a side project at Bay Area hackathons. Alex Konrad, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 The Education Department has spent time tinkering with the details in ways that have assuaged advocates for rural students – or some of them, at least. Zachary Schermele, USA TODAY, 5 Mar. 2024 That meant that players who wanted to make a vehicle, for example, could tinker with different tools instead of being restricted to something basic like a wheel and a board. Megan Farokhmanesh, WIRED, 21 Mar. 2024 In 2020, one of Knauss' neighbors sought a protective order against him, similarly accusing Knauss of spraying foam in his home sewage pipes and sealing them shut, along with poisoning his lemon tree and tinkering with the air conditioning unit. The Arizona Republic, 14 Mar. 2024 Smith played solid football, but the Colts tinkered with moving him to right guard in an effort to find an answer. The Indianapolis Star, 22 Jan. 2024
Teams largely use a first-of-the-year preseason test to tinker with setup ideas envisioned during the offseason or to test new parts and their effectiveness. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 6 Feb. 2023 Major whiskey brands like to tinker with their formula when coming up with new series and collections. Jonah Flicker, Robb Report, 3 July 2022 This capability would allow scientists to give an organism’s DNA an extreme makeover, rather than just tinker with it. Ed Regis, Discover Magazine, 24 June 2010 Evansville Day didn't tinker with Rivet, scoring a 67-32 result in the win column on February 1 in Indiana boys high school basketball. Indy Star Ai Sports, The Indianapolis Star, 2 Feb. 2023 Beyond that, Antonetti and company didn’t tinker with the Guardians’ still very-young core, which features plenty of speed and aggressiveness. Jim Ingraham, Forbes, 27 Jan. 2023 Netflix film that streams Friday, Jan. 13, does not tinker with the formula. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 13 Jan. 2023 The Lumineers tinker on the sound system, and there are strategic candles that smell invigorating and a little mysterious (amberwood, pine, and fig). Ben Court, Men's Health, 22 Dec. 2022 Tesla engineers will continue to tinker with the Cybertruck model, with an eye on 2023, Musk said. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 27 Jan. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tinker.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English tinkere

First Known Use


1655, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of tinker was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near tinker

Cite this Entry

“Tinker.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tinker. Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
tin·​ker ˈtiŋ-kər How to pronounce tinker (audio)
: a person who travels around and earns a living by repairing household utensils (as pots and pans)


2 of 2 verb
tinkered; tinkering ˈtiŋ-k(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce tinker (audio)
: to repair or adjust something in an unskilled or experimental manner
tinkering with his car
tinkerer noun

More from Merriam-Webster on tinker

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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