Curse

v.t. Energetically to belabor with a verbal slap-stick. This is an operation which in literature, particularly in the drama, is commonly fatal to the victim. Nevertheless, the liability to a cursing is a risk that cuts but a small figure in fixing the rates of life insurance.

anything worthless. Corruption of the Old English  word kerse , a small sour wild cherry; Frenchcerise GermankirschVision 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.