Not worth a tinker’s damn is a phrase that is often uttered, although most people who say it nowadays have no idea what a tinker is. There is also considerable confusion over the word damn in this phrase, which is often misspelled dam.
A tinker was an itinerant tradesman who mended pots and pans. The variant tinkler, common in Scotland, the north of England, and Ireland, appears as an English word in a Latin manuscript, Carta Willelmi Regis, from c.1175.
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Que iacet inter terram serlon incisoris et terram Jacobi tinkler.
(Which lies between the land of Serlo the engraver and the land of James the tinkler.)
Copyright 1997-2013, by David Wilton