Last modified on 17 December 2014, at 13:50

tinker's damn


Alternative formsEdit

  • tinker's dam


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.

However, this is just polish added to an old phrase, as not worth a damn predates the use of tinker's damn. The reference to tinkers was added for emphasis and colour – tinkers were known for swearing, so a damn from a tinker was particularly worthless. Also, it was a way, as with "Fudge" or "Geez Louise" or a million other soft-core curses, to avoid saying the actual word "damn" while pronouncing the word "dam".


tinker's damn

  1. a worthless amount


Derived termsEdit