- anything worthless. Corruption of the _Old English_ word KERSE, a small sour wild cherry; _French_, CERISE; _German_, KIRSCH. _Vision of Piers Ploughman_:— “Wisdom and witt nowe is _not worth_ a KERSE, But if it be carded with cootis as clothers Kembe their woole.” The expression “not worth a CURSE,” used frequently nowadays, is therefore not properly profane, though it is frequently intensified by a profane expletive. Horne Tooke says from KERSE, or CRESS. The expression “not worth a tinker’s CURSE,” may or may not have arisen from misapplication of the word’s origin, though as now used it certainly means curse in its usual sense. Tinkers do curse, unfortunately, and it will take a good deal of school-board work to educate them out of it, as well as a fair amount of time. The phrase “not worth a tinker’s damn,” is evidently a variation of this, unless indeed it should be spelt “dam,” and used as a reference to the general worthlessness of the wives and mothers of tinkers. This latter is merely offered to those who are speculative in such matters, and is not advanced as an opinion.
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