tinker


to try to fix something

STATISTICS

IN THE PRESS

Energy companies will be required to let customers know what their best deal is, in a move which ministers say could save households up to £100 a year. But environmental campaigners have dismissed the initiative as TINKERING and are calling for far-reaching changes to how energy is produced and consumed.

(BBC News)

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I found with this record I had to really be strong-willed, because in the past I've tended to TINKER and add a thing or take a thing away and nearly always been wrong.

- pop/rock musician Elvis Costello

Did you
know?

tinker
verb

- to make unskilled or experimental efforts at repair

- to manipulate unskilfully or experimentally

tinkerer
noun

- someone who tinkers

(American Heritage Dictionary)

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Costly tinkering

Charles Steinmetz was a German-born American electrical engineer and inventor known for his research on alternating current in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was once called out of retirement by General Electric to help them locate a problem in a complex system of machines. After tinkering with and testing various parts of the system, he finally placed a chalk-marked 'X' on a small component in one machine.

GE's engineers promptly examined the component and were amazed to find the defect in the precise location of Steinmetz's mark. Some time later, GE received an invoice from the clever engineer for $10,000. Astounded that Steinmetz had the nerve to charge so much, they protested the and challenged him to provide more detail on the invoice

So he did: "Making one chalk mark: $1. He then wrote, "Knowing where to place it: $9,999."

Etymology: Tinker is of uncertain origin, but originally referred to someone who repaired kettles, pots and pans. Some suggest that the word is connected to the sound made by light hammering on metal. The word is also used in the British expression "not give a tinker's damn" or "not give a tinker's curse", which means to not care at all about (I don't give a tinker's damn what the neighbor's think, I can paint my house whatever colour I want!)

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SYNONYMS

fiddle with, dabble, mess with, monkey around with, play around with, repair, trifle with

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SMUGGLE OWAD into today's conversation

"I tinkered around with my iPhone until I finally got it working again."

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