Green’s Dictionary of Slang

tin-pot adj.

also tin, tinned pot, tin-pan
[note naut. jargon tin-potter, an idler, one who shirks their duties by claiming to be ill. The use of tin-pot as cheap, inferior is SE]

of a place, small, insignificant; of a person, mediocre, second-rate; of an event, irrelevant.

[UK]The Factory Strike Remarks in Pattie’s Coll. of Dramas II 33: Mr. Taylor, is a patriot in his little tin pot way .
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 59: Yes, but you must stick to your tinpot fakement. You will croak for peck, and be smugged for a stiff ’un. Now I goes the whole hog.
[UK]Man of Pleasure’s Illus. Pocket-book n.p.: ‘You stick to your tinpot fakement. You will croak for peck, and be smugged for a stiff’un’.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 237: Tin-pot ‘he plays a tin-pot game,’ i.e., a low or shabby one ? Billiards.
[UK]Sportsman 21 Nov. 4/1: Notes on News [...] A class of ‘tin-pot’ imitation modern Boswells.
[UK]Besant & Rice Golden Butterfly II 81: I shall have information of every dodge goin’, from an emperor’s ambition to a tin-pot company bubble.
[UK] ‘’Arry on Chivalry’ in Punch 20 July 177: You’ll find no tinpot ‘Chivalry’ there.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 2 Aug. 11/4: There has been of late, in Sydney a little tin-pot agitation in the direction of having the next N.S.W. Governor appointed from among the residents of N.S.Wales by the Imperial authorities.
[Aus]Coburg Leader (Vic.) 1 June 4/4: The Brunswick football club are a ‘tin pot’ lot of goal kickers.
[UK]Sporting Times 10 Feb. 2/5: The underdone son of a gun, conceited ignorant prig! / Passing his tin-pot judgements on the generals of the day.
[Aus]W.A. Sun. Times (Perth) 19 May 1/1: The next exposé will topple several tin-pot gods off their Aunt Sally pinnacles.
[UK]Leigh & Powell [perf. Marie Lloyd] Rum-tiddley-um-tum-tay! 🎵 Our little lot’s okay / In our little tin-pot way.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 13 Oct. 14/1: Bush J’s.P. for arrogance are pretty hard to beat; but high and mighty mayors in tin-pot townships can sometimes do it.
[UK]J. Buchan Mr Standfast (1930) 547: I was pretty certain that every porter and station-master on that tin-pot outfit was anxious to make better acquaintance with my humble self.
[UK]E. Raymond Tell England (1965) 195: Think of him putting his tin-pot house in order like that.
[Aus](con. WWI) A.G. Pretty Gloss. Sl. [...] in the A.I.F. 1921–1924 (rev. t/s) n.p.: tinned pot. Contemptible.
[US]E. Caldwell Bastard (1963) 46: Why don’t you take off all your clothes! You would get him quicker that way – you tin whore!
[NZ]N.Z. Truth 1 Aug. 18/4: The loud-mouthed, empty-headed galoots, who [...] thought they were tin heroes.
[Aus](con. 1830s–60s) ‘Miles Franklin’ All That Swagger 144: I’m full-up of Bewuck. It’s a tin-pot hole.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 240: tinpot lawyer A second rate lawyer.
[NZ]I. Hamilton Till Human Voices Wake Us 61: The ordinary tinpot dictatorship complex.
[UK]A. Sinclair Breaking of Bumbo (1961) 91: All you’ve got to do with these tin-pot gyppos is show them a bit of the old jackboot.
[NZ]G. Slatter Pagan Game (1969) 80: The cocksure boys from tinpot towns in the woop woops.
[UK]A. Burgess Enderby Outside in Complete Enderby (2002) 340: If I had the running of this tinpot little dictatorship I’d make sure they did.
[US]E. Thompson Garden of Sand (1981) 431: She [...] turned to glare at the incredible urchin wandering in a tin-pan dead end, a place of no lasting memory or deep regret.
[Aus]D. Ireland Burn 6: Every tinpot lancejack talks about the digs.
[Aus]M. Bail Homesickness (1999) 246: The nation’s largest aircraft carrier had been seized by some tin-pot country.
[UK]T. Blacker Fixx 67: If there’s one thing a British institution, even of the second-rate, tin-pot variety, knows how to handle, it’s an internal scandal.
[Aus]R.G. Barratt ‘Better a White Racist Bastard’ in What Do You Reckon (1997) [ebook] [P]andering to a lot of tin-pot African dictators.
[UK]Guardian Guide 10–16 July 5: Behind every tinpot crypto-Stalinist regime lurks an abundance of tinpot crypto-Stalinist edicts.
[UK]Observer Mag. 25 Jan. 21: The tin-pot beggars and lepers from neighbouring hamlets.
[Aus]Bug (Aus.) July 🌐 But, Bash, you gotta understand you don’t get to be boss cocky of any tinpot Aussie outpost dunny unless you are as cunning as a shithouse rat.
[Scot]L. McIlvanney All the Colours 193: [T]his tinpot Dodge [City] with its crummy back-to-backs, its pot-bellied hard-men.
[UK]Financial Times Weekend Mag. 30 Apr. 23/2: They very phrase ‘the council’ conjures up a range of horrors: bumbling bureaucracy, tin-pot tyrants, ’elf n’ safety gone mad.