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Re: Tinker's dam & cuss

Posted by James Briggs on February 09, 2002

In Reply to: Re: Tinker's dam & cuss posted by TheUnlurker on February 08, 2002

: : : : What I learned from my daddy, almost seventy years ago, was that a "tinker's dam" was a small piecd of clay to hold the solder on a pan until the solder cooled and set.
: : : : You would not make a dam out of solder. It is what you melt to mend or tie something together either mechanically or to make a good electrical connection.

: : : : At least you did not write that it was the "profane language" of the lowly tinker. Heck, he had to be a craftsman to do his work.
: : : : Thanks for the link.

: : : That sounds like a good explanation to me.

: : If someone doesn't give a tinker's dam (or cuss) the they are reckoned to be completely indifferent to the outcome of an event. Dam (note the lack of a terminal "n") is used today to describe a structure for holding back water; so it was in the days of Tinkers. They used to travel the country earning their livings mending pots and pans and sharpening knives. They would mend the pots by filling the leak on the inside with some clay and then repairing the outside with permanent material. When this was done the clay was discarded. The clay stopper was the tinker's dam. The dam was also known as a cuss. Both were worthless, hence the saying.

: I feel like I must be stalking you James (I'm not -- but surely we need a word to describe stalking someone through newsgroups etc.).

: These three links:
: http://www.greenapple.com/~words1/100699.html#tinkersdamn
: http://www.yourdictionary.com/cgi-bin/mw.cgi?dlookup=DAMN&dib.x=1
: http://www.wordorigins.org/wordort.htm#tinker
: say otherwise*, and that the most likely explantion is the supposed disposition of tinkers and their tendency to,... well,... cuss.

: Regards,
: TheUnlurker

: *NB: of course the facts aren't dependent on any democratic decision, least of all a democracy whose electorate is WWW citations, but...

Not according to Brewer, and quite a few of my other references. See the Appendix on the link from the link below for a list.