Definitions

from The American HeritageĀ® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Slang The smallest degree or amount: property that is not worth a tinker's damn.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a worthless amount

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. something of little value

Etymologies

Probably from the reputation of tinkers for cursing.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
A popular etymology is that tinkers used a small piece of dough or clay, a dam, to stop the flow of solder until it solidified. The dam was single-use, and was thrown away afterwards as useless. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Sorry, no example sentences found.

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Tinker's cuss in my neck of the woods too. That's if you hear it at allā€¦

    October 20, 2008

  • I like tinkers to cuss. The only time I've ever heard this expression it was a cuss, so that stayed with me. Cuss/curse is rarely used to describe foul language in Australia.

    October 20, 2008

  • I've always heard/said tinker's toot.







    ps - Why does heard look so freakish in print?

    October 20, 2008

  • Oh, but sionnach, it sounds great! Go on, try it on someone today. "You know, I really want to care about Fred's business report, but today I just don't give a haymaker's damn."

    November 1, 2007

  • skipvia: I must apologize - this seems like a false recovered memory on my part. I wasn't deliberately trying to mislead: I think I might have had the word thrawneen in mind. There is an Irish expression- "I don't give a thrawneen about it", which would be the same as "I don't give a tinker's damn", where thrawneen means "a straw, a rush, something of little value".

    But haymaker means something else entirely. And, sad to say, haymaker's damn appears to have been just a figment of my crossed brain-circuits.

    November 1, 2007

  • Once again you have me at a disadvantage, si. I've never heard this term and a quick Google search turned up nothing.

    Or am I missing one of your elaborate jokes? :)

    November 1, 2007

  • Is this the same as a haymaker's damn?

    November 1, 2007

  • According to this article on The Phrase Finder, the etymologically correct spelling of tinker's dam, having evolved from the phrase tinker's curse.

    November 1, 2007