It's just this little chromium switch, here... (derspatchel) wrote,
It's just this little chromium switch, here...

Mr. Pete: A "tinker's damn", or "tinker's cuss" depending on what part of the world you hear the phrase, is derived from the fact that apparently tinkers, those itinerant menders of pots and pans, were often colorful characters who swore like sailors. They prejoratively roamed the countryside, hither and yon goddammit and repaireded your bustificated metal cookware. Apparently they cussed so much that the words became meaningless to them, just extra punctuation for a sentence.

That's one of the stories behind the phrase, and it seems the most plausible. The second involves some explanation about a piece of equipment called a "dam" to ensure the molten metal they used didn't get away from them, and which was discarded after use and therefore worthless. But that seems to have been created as a more genteel explanation and doesn't try to retcon "cuss" into it.

Thoreau uses the "damn" phrase, even, and that Thoreau, he was a pretty smart guy. (And I don't even mean George K. Thoreau, who indeed is smart, but good ol' Henry D.)


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