Also found in: Idioms, Wikipedia.


n. Slang
A petty braggart who pretends to be rich and important.

[From the horn-shaped metal can used by chuck-a-luck operators for shaking the dice.]

tin′horn′ adj.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


a cheap pretentious person, esp a gambler with extravagant claims
cheap and showy
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


Slang. n.
1. someone, esp. a gambler, who pretends to be important.
2. insignificant; small-time: a tinhorn dictator.
[1880–85, Amer.]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Indeed, the President is living up to the template of the tinhorn despot.
TINHORN CREEK tested Stelvin closures versus cork with our 2001 Reserve Merlot, loved the results, and immediately switched to Stelvin.
Calling them "tin" is as much a slur as a description, suggesting a cheap imitation (see: tinhorn, tin-pot, Tin Lizzie).
(TSX: ADW.A) (TSX: ADW.B) (APL) has agreed to acquire 100% of British Columbia, Canada-based wine producers Black Hills Estate Winery and Gray Monk Estate Winery and has signed an LOI to acquire 100% of Canada-based winery Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, for a total purchase price of CDN 95m (USD 77.95m), the company said.
Target: Black Hills Estate Winery, Gray Monk Estate Winery and Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
Seeking recluse and peace in the town of Creed, Colo., his reputation nevertheless leads to his being badgered, hounded and threatened by the local Marshall (Harry Morgan), an old nemesis Sweeney (Richard Boone), a tinhorn gambler named Pulford (Hugh O'Brian), the town's newspaperman Dobkins (Rick Lenz), an old girlfriend (Sheree North) and Cobb (Bill McKinney), the local self proclaimed "gunfighter," all of whom are looking for revenge or to cash in on his fame.
Erie Smith is cut from the same cloth as Hickey Hickman, the brassy salesman who preaches salvation to the stewbums at Harry Hope's Saloon in "The Iceman Cometh." But the only audience for Erie's pipe dream about his comeback as a Broadway tinhorn is Charlie Hughes (Frank Wood), the dour night clerk at a fleabag hotel in Times Square.
Ron Hubbard Theatre located in Hollywood, one block west of the Chinese Theatre, will feature a live production of the western romance, "Tinhorn's Daughter" this coming Saturday, November 7 and 14.
In Broken Bridle, Wyoming, Jeremiah Purdy, the town's tinhorn sheriff is a college kid who wants to become governor some day.
The scene of a tinhorn gambler popping one of these slick little argument-settlers out of his sleeve during a contentious poker game is a staple of the horse opera.
We want and deserve tincan architecture in a tinhorn culture."
If the United States, France and Britain cannot topple a tinhorn despot like Gaddafi who is loathed by most of his own people, the damage to Western credibility will be severe and long-lasting.