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 : romany 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 Beer wasn’t invented by some dude in a flannel shirt tinkering with hops levels, but likely about 10,000 years ago by some Mesopotamian who unthinkingly left out his soupy porridge in the Sinai sun. Bill St. John, The Denver Post, "How to manage food mishaps in the kitchen," 31 July 2019 Unsatisfied with an 8-8 season without a postseason berth, the Vikings head coach went to the woodshed and started tinkering. John Shipley, Twin Cities, "After disappointing season, Vikings’ Mike Zimmer went to the woodshed," 7 June 2019 Since the introduction of sliding back in Mega Man 3 and charged shots in Mega Man 4, the series has been content with new levels, new bosses, and only small tinkering around the edges regarding gameplay and visual style. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Mega Man 11 review: Switching gears," 1 Oct. 2018 Lee began tinkering with a program to measure romantic interest after watching a clueless friend get ghosted after a date. Wired, "Flirty or Friendzone? New AI Scans Your Texts for True Love," 16 Sep. 2019 Bureau officials are still tinkering with that tool, called differential privacy, which will be used for the first time in reporting the results of the 2020 head count that begins on 1 April. Jeffrey Mervis, Science | AAAS, "Why the U.S. Census Bureau could have trouble complying with Trump’s order to count citizens," 16 Sep. 2019 While engineers tinkered with the sub, Vescovo mostly worked alone in his cabin. The Economist, "The last of the great explorers," 6 Sep. 2019 Many of the world’s largest brewers—including Anheuser-Busch InBev, Molson Coors, and Carlsberg—are tinkering with new technologies to replace single-use, plastic six-pack beer rings with more sustainable materials. John Kell, Fortune, "Beermakers Are Experimenting With New—and Sustainable—Six-Pack Designs," 2 Sep. 2019 That has forced Texas to turn to some walk-ons and tinker with position changes. Nick Moyle, ExpressNews.com, "Texas’ Jordan Whittington last RB standing as injuries mount," 23 Aug. 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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Statistics for tinker

Last Updated

27 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for tinker

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

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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

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).


to engage in dissolute behavior

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