Posted by: Jack Henry | December 7, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Tinker

One of our readers asked me about the etymology of the verb “to tinker.” He was aware of the meaning of a tinker, as a tinsmith, but was wondering about how the word became a verb that could be used for more than just fiddling with silverware or utensils. Here’s what I found for the noun and the verb. The definitions are from Merriam-Webster and the etymologies are from the Online Etymology Dictionary.

· tinker (noun)

1a : a usually itinerant repairman who mends kitchen or household utensils

b chiefly Irish : gypsy <a story of wandering tinkers and their struggle against the conventions of society — Paul Rotha>

c : an unskillful mender : bungler

· tinker (noun) etymology

“Mender of kettles, pots, pans, etc.," late 14c. (mid-13c. as a surname), of uncertain origin. Some connect the word with the sound made by light hammering on metal.

· tinker (verb)

:to work or act as or in the manner of a tinker; especially

:to repair or adjust something in an unskilled or experimental manner

(transitive verb)

:to repair, adjust, or experiment with

· tinker (verb) etymology

1590s, “to work as a tinker,” from tinker (n.). Meaning “work imperfectly, keep busy in a useless way,” is first found 1650s.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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