Definition of a spanner in the works in English:

a spanner in the works

(North American a wrench in the works)

phrase

  • A person or thing that prevents the successful implementation of a plan.

    ‘even the weakest parties can throw a spanner in the works of the negotiations’
    • ‘The plan goes smoothly, but femme fatale Sherry throws a spanner in the works by getting her henchmen to kill everybody.’
    • ‘The convention dictates that there must be a spanner in the works of an otherwise successful relationship, and Kissing Jessica Stein is no different.’
    • ‘So we could all do without any last-minute hitches that could throw a spanner in the works just when we think everything is about to be signed and sealed.’
    • ‘Someone is trying to throw a spanner in the works but we won't allow them to disrupt the rebuilding job we are doing here.’
    • ‘Some nimble move by AMD or even IBM could throw another monkey wrench in the works.’
    interfere, interfere with, hinder, hamper, obstruct, disrupt, impede, inhibit, retard, baulk, thwart, foil, curb, delay, set back, slow down, hold back, hold up
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