to give a tinker's toss

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Vocabulary / Vocabulario Español-Inglés' started by Jerzon, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. Jerzon

    Jerzon Senior Member


    I was wondering if "to give a tinker's toss" is exactly the same as "to give a tinker's cuss/damn" (I assume it is, but I could be wrong)

    I was going through some argument between two people on Facebook, and one of them said:

    B ) If your post was not visible, how could I have posted on it? could it be your "friends in academia" don't give a tinkers toss?

    If so, can anyone provide an idiomatic translation in Spanish, and why is "toss" used?

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2012
  2. nelliot53

    nelliot53 Senior Member

    Puerto Rico
    Spanish-[PR]; English-[US]
    Could it be your "friends in academia" don't give a tinkers toss?- ¿¿Podría ser que a tus amigos académicos no les importe un pito??

    I don't give a toss what you think. A mí me importa un pito (fam)or (vulg) carajo lo que pienses.( WR Dicitionary)
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 2, 2014
  3. Tochka Senior Member

    I can't help with the Spanish, but I would think "give a tinker's toss" would be the same as "give a tinker's damn" and "give a tinker's dam" and "give a tinker's cuss".

    There is dispute over whether the original expression was "give a tinker's dam" (meaning an object used by tinkers in repairing pots) or "give a tinker's damn", since tinkers evidently had a reputation for swearing a lot. (See this site.) Whatever the phrase's origins, however, the expression means to not care at all about something.

    "Toss," as you probably know, means to throw up in the air or to throw away,among other things--including to "toss" back drinks, and therefore to be a "toss pot" was to be a drunkard. See this site and this one for more on "toss"

    As for "toss" in "to give a tinker's toss", I imagine "toss" came to be substituted either for the word "damn" or "cuss" in the expressions, "give a tinker's damn" and "give a tinker's cuss". "Toss" is alliterative with "tinker" for one thing, and almost rhymes with "cuss"--and may actually rhyme with it in some pronunciations of English.
    In English, there is a long history of linguistic game playing, in which we avoid using profanity either by substituting milder terms, or by using a similar sounding innocuous word and pretending that is the meaning, or by simply using a term that makes absolutely no sense in the actual context, but which rhymes with the avoided term.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2012
  4. Jerzon

    Jerzon Senior Member

    Thank you nelliot, and Tochka that was amazingly helpful, thank you so much!
  5. rasputin1963 New Member


    "Tinker's toss" I have always heard from my British friends; I've never heard it used commonly in the USA.
  6. levmac

    levmac Senior Member

    "Toss" can also mean "wank" (paja), and in BE "I couldn't give a toss" means something like "I couldn't give a fuck/rat's ass, etc".
  7. rasputin1963 New Member


    Exactly correct. This is the way Brits use the phrase, and I do think it is a somewhat indelicate expression, as you point out.
  8. mancunienne girl Senior Member

    English - England
    Agree with Ivemac about "couldn't give a toss". However, never in my life have I heard the expression "tinker's toss" in GB, and in any case I would avoid using expressions with the word tinker in them like this, as it's now considered in many places to be a pejorative term to describe travellers (those with no fixed abode, who generally pitch their mobile homes wherever they feel they can make a temporary home for themselves).

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