tinpot = schäbig, minderwertig, belanglos, Westentaschen- —— Tinpot dictator = Westentaschendiktator



“The Partygate probe should have stopped at Johnson, and let his TINPOT army fade into obscurity”

Simon Jenkins — The Guardian (29th June 2023)

“Technicians in the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are preparing to change the frequency of their electric grids…. the switch is part of a contest that pits democratic Europe against autocratic Russia and its TINPOT ally Belarus.

The Economist (13th August 2020)

Did you

tinpot (tin-pot)
adjective (informal, disapproving)

- not important or deserving respect

- of little importance or value; insignificant, petty, inferior, etc.

The Cambridge Dictionary / Collins Dictionary


Old English “tin”, from Proto-Germanic tinom (the source also of Middle Dutch and Dutch tin, Old High German zin, German Zinn, and Old Norse tin).

Tin has never commanded as much respect as some other metals. As a reflection of this, its name has long been used in terms denoting low quality or unimportance.

“Tin-pot” has been used for minor or insignificant things or people since the early 1800s. “Tinhorn” has named fakes or frauds (especially gamblers) since the second half of that century, and “Tin Lizzie” has been a nickname for an inexpensive car since Ford introduced the Model T.

Another example is “tin-pan”, meaning "noisy, harsh, tinny”. That word features in the name of the famous “Tin Pan Alley”, in which it evokes the tinny sound of pianos pounded furiously by musicians plugging tunes to producers.


A sentence in which the first letter of every word spells out another word or phrase is known as an "acrostic". This term is also used in poetry, where the first (or sometimes the last) letter of each line, when read vertically from top to bottom, spells out a word, phrase, or sentence. Acrostics can be a creative way to embed hidden messages or meanings in text. Here are some tinpot sentences:

1. “Teacups in nests: pigeons' outrageous tea-party."
2. “Taste interesting new pasta, original tortellini."
3. “Try introducing new people, only teachers."
4. "Trust in napkins, particularly over towels."
5. "Trapped in Nutella: predicament or treat?"

Over the weekend, have some linguistic fun with your own name and drop me a line at: paul(at)smith.de

"Peacocks and unicorns love Saturday mornings in the hammock."


amateur, bungling, bush-league, cheap, cockamamie, crude, crummy, dime-store, dinky, down-market, el cheapo, fifth-rate, fly-by-night, fourth-rate, gimcrack, half-baked, half-cocked, half-hearted, humdrum, inferior, jerry-built, junky, kitschy, lame, lousy, low-grade, low-quality, mangy, meager, measly, mediocre, Mickey Mouse, naff, not up to snuff, off, off-color, off-grade, off-quality, pedestrian, poorly made, ramshackle, rattletrap, rinky-dink, rubbishy, run-of-the-mill, scrappy, second-class, second-rate, shabby, shoddy, skimpy, slipshod, sloppy, slovenly, small-bore, small-fry, small-time, sub-par, sub-standard, tacky, third-class, third-rate, tinhorn, TINPOT, trashy, two-bit, valueless, worthless

SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“In the world of art these days, what's TINPOT to one person can be treasure to another."

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