Definition of screw in English:

screw

noun

  • 1A short, slender, sharp-pointed metal pin with a raised helical thread running round it and a slotted head, used to join things together by being rotated so that it pierces wood or other material and is held tightly in place.

    • ‘They tend to be solid objects made of plastics, metals, and ceramics held together by screws, clips, adhesives, and heat seals.’
    • ‘Some fractures require surgery, and the use of metal screws, wires, pins or plates to hold the broken pieces of bone together.’
    • ‘The second thread quickly joins the first so that the major portion of the screw remains single threaded.’
    • ‘If you happen to hit framing while drilling, use a screw instead of a toggle bolt at that location.’
    • ‘The screw heads will not move at all with respect to each other, assuming that both screws are being rotated at the same angular velocity.’
    • ‘The bolt jiggled and slowly raised, the heavy screw in it slowly coming undone, until it was almost teetering out.’
    • ‘Hand-carved wooden pegs - never nails, screws, or anything else metal - are driven in with stone hammers.’
    • ‘If necessary, adjust by slackening the center screw and rotating the outer 5/8-inch hexagon nut.’
    • ‘Builders will appreciate the fact that plastic lumber can hold nails and screws better than wood.’
    • ‘They are held in place with Torx screws, a nice touch and another upgrade from the usual slotted screws.’
    • ‘With vinyl windows, avoid frames that are held together with screws because they tend to loosen over time.’
    • ‘To take apart, remove two small Phillips screws on each side up under where the nightlight is.’
    • ‘The gypsum board must be attached to the wood furring strips or underlying masonry using nails or screws.’
    • ‘This smooth and more experienced screwdriver had strengths mine did not, and it sunk the remaining loose screws deep into the wood.’
    • ‘Lotus has been building cars with aluminum chassis for many years, but none of them are welded: they are held together with screws and adhesives.’
    • ‘These planes are made with two separate stocks held together with either metal or turned wooden screws.’
    • ‘The logs, the wood flooring, the cabinets, all of the materials down to the nails and screws which hold it together, were donated or purchased with donated funds.’
    • ‘Surgeons rebuilt his shattered legs using metal plates held together by 27 screws.’
    • ‘Be sure to use galvanized screws or nails to build and hang them so they won't rust.’
    • ‘The blade is not pointed, but ground to a screwdriver shape that will work on slotted or phillips-head screws of the size typically found in automobiles.’
    bolt, fastener
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A cylinder with a helical ridge or thread running round the outside (a male screw) that can be turned to seal an opening, apply pressure, adjust position, etc., especially one fitting into a corresponding internally grooved or threaded piece (a female screw).
      • ‘It is secured with special spring-loaded screws for uniform hold-down pressure.’
      • ‘The inner diameters of the seals were adapted to the diameters of the basal parts of root systems and adjusted by screws.’
      • ‘The ball screw includes a plurality of balls arranged in a space between a hemispherical groove formed on a cylindrical inner surface of a housing and a hemispherical groove of a rotating male screw.’
      • ‘Making this cider press screw is reported to have been a whole winter's work by a carpenter in southern Pennsylvania.’
      • ‘Adjust the syrup screw on the fountain head to make the drink stronger to suit your taste.’
      • ‘The pivot rod is released by loosening a clevis screw on the lift rod assembly.’
      • ‘A nice touch is a tripod socket which accepts a standard tripod screw.’
    2. 1.2the screwshistorical An instrument of torture having the action of a screw.
    3. 1.3 A ship's or aircraft's propeller (considered as acting like a screw in moving through water or air).
      • ‘In 1845, the British Admiralty sponsored a demonstration to determine which was superior, the paddle wheel or screw propeller; the latter clearly won.’
      • ‘The warship was then hit by a torpedo, which rendered her screws and rudders useless.’
      • ‘But steamships were improving as the screw propeller replaced the paddle wheel and iron replaced wood.’
      • ‘Its screw lies in 36m of water and general depth on the deck is around 26m.’
      • ‘The rotation of the flagellum propels the cell body in the same way that a screw propels a ship.’
      • ‘Her single steel screw propeller was powered by a three-cylinder triple expansion steam engine and developed 162 hp.’
      • ‘To the rear of the left torpedo tube, the flap is missing and the rudders and screw of one of the torpedoes are sticking out of the pipe.’
      • ‘The wreck now lies in 32-34m of water on her side with the hull relatively intact and the steel screw and rudder still in place.’
      • ‘Minutes after the sonobuoy was in the water, the faint sound of a submarine screw entered the headphones of a young petty officer aboard the helicopter.’
      • ‘The subsequent development of the screw propeller, concealed beneath the surface of the water, yielded greater maneuverability as well as greater protection.’
      • ‘He engaged the engine, causing two large screw propellers to whirl frantically and the wood and cloth contraption to lift off the ground.’
      propeller, rotor
      View synonyms
  • 2An act of turning a screw or other object having a thread.

    turn, twist, wrench, lever, heave
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1British Billiards Snooker mass noun Backspin given to the cue ball by hitting it below centre, intended to make it move backwards after striking the object ball.
    2. 2.2British count noun A small twisted-up piece of paper, typically containing a substance such as salt or tobacco.
      • ‘Two labourers, flushed with beer and temporarily lordly, share a screw of tobacco in their clay pipes.’
  • 3informal A prisoner's derogatory term for a warder.

    ‘she was frightened by the look of the screws’
    • ‘One day the screws opened the solitary confinement cell and a brown paper bag was thrust inside.’
    • ‘All of them have severely injured screws or other inmates.’
    • ‘All becomes clear later and we settle down onto familiar prison drama territory with mouthy cons, bent screws and idealistic governors.’
    • ‘You don't go to jails and see screws whose main aim is to rehabilitate people.’
    • ‘In order to find out, he stuck 18 volunteers in a mock prison, arbitrarily making them either lags or screws.’
    • ‘Marijuana was sort of a sedative sort of drug as far as the screws and prison authorities were concerned.’
    • ‘The abiding impression left by the book is the way the prison system reduces prisoners and screws to animals.’
    • ‘I can't be with any other prisoner because the screws know I'll be done in.’
  • 4vulgar slang in singular An act of sexual intercourse.

    1. 4.1with adjective A sexual partner of a specified ability.
  • 5British dated, informal in singular An amount of salary or wages.

    ‘he's offered me the job with a jolly good screw’
  • 6archaic, informal A mean or miserly person.

  • 7British informal A worn-out horse.

    nag, inferior horse, tired-out horse, worn-out horse, rosinante
    View synonyms

verb

  • 1with object and adverbial Fasten or tighten with a screw or screws.

    ‘screw the hinge to your new door’
    • ‘There was a camera literally screwed to the wall with a couple of lights.’
    • ‘Once in place, go ahead and screw in the other two hard-drive screws, and tighten all four down.’
    • ‘I screwed two brackets into the doorframe, then took an old barbell and cut it to fit.’
    • ‘The control panel earth wire will need to be securely screwed to the chassis of the vehicle.’
    • ‘I cut the wood to lengths and screwed together the most haphazard structure of my whole life.’
    • ‘Remove anything that isn't nailed or screwed down.’
    • ‘I then bought brass hardware and screwed the handle into the top of the frame.’
    • ‘The batten tips can be screwed in and out to set the overall length of the batten.’
    • ‘You then attach the bracket by screwing the #1 screw through the bracket into the sliders.’
    • ‘Rather than being screwed on they were riveted.’
    • ‘A slab of wood screwed to the sitting room wall at waist height, took the extension blocks.’
    • ‘They stand right on the edge of the roof, bolting and screwing this thing into place.’
    • ‘Moved the DSL modem and both hubs on top of a filing cabinet, screwed their surge bar onto the wall, organised the cables, etc.’
    • ‘I liked this thing a great deal and it now sits screwed firmly to the closet wall in the bedroom.’
    • ‘I undress and hang my orange attire upon a steel hanger that is securely screwed into the wall.’
    • ‘To that end, Colbert also constructs his walls and ceilings with a resilient metal channel that is screwed to the framing members to isolate sound.’
    • ‘But, in a seven-hour operation, surgeons screwed a 32 cm titanium rod into his shin and saved the most famous limb in Austria.’
    • ‘There are no knocks, creaks or rattles either, indicating that it's been well screwed together.’
    • ‘To ease my back and save time, I screwed a piece of plywood to the top of a sawhorse and made a crude table to catch the piece of split wood.’
    • ‘The top layer was screwed down to the bottom layer in essence creating a one piece quiet, rigid, non-creaking floor.’
    fasten, secure, fix, attach, clamp, bolt, rivet, batten
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Rotate (something) so as to fit it into or on to a surface or object by means of a spiral thread.
      ‘Philip screwed the top on the flask’
      • ‘I answered, holding the phone up to my ear with my shoulder while I screwed the top back onto my bottle of nail polish.’
      • ‘The bottle should then be very gently screwed off the cork with one hand while the cork is held in place with the other.’
      • ‘I took an empty clear plastic 750 ml Coke bottle for each one, screwed the top on firmly and made a small hole in it, then sawed off the base.’
      • ‘His face turned from white to green as he realized what he'd nearly drank and he screwed the top back on quickly, trying to pretend he'd never seen it.’
      • ‘Put Teflon tape in a clockwise direction as you are looking at the threads and screw it in.’
      • ‘But the most practical option seems to be to screw your earbuds in tighter and turn up the volume on your personal sound track.’
      • ‘Place the lids on top of the jars, and screw them down finger-tight.’
      • ‘Joe screwed the top back on the canteen, and squeezed, on his back, under the wagon bed.’
      • ‘She screwed the top on and placed it in her purse.’
      • ‘Are you upset that he occasionally forgets to screw the top back on the toothpaste tube?’
      • ‘Jason suddenly grabbed the bottle and opened it, albeit with some difficult, as it was screwed on tight.’
      • ‘One huge plus is when you have leftover wine you just screw the top back on.’
      • ‘Finally she screwed the top back on the antiseptic bottle and gave me a look.’
      • ‘Strain it into fizzy drink bottles, making sure you screw the cap on tight.’
      • ‘Thinking quickly I pulled out a smooth black cylinder from my pocket and screwed it into the top of the my gun.’
      • ‘You just cut off the top and screw the gadget into the pineapple flesh until you hit bottom, then pull out the corer with a lovely yellow cylinder of pineapple meat wrapped around it.’
      • ‘Silently, he went to his car, removed the pistol from the glove box, screwed on the silencer, and placed it under his coat.’
      • ‘I accidentally screwed it in too tight and the head of the bolt tore off.’
      • ‘But for a drink that they want you to drink when you have no energy, they sure screw the cap on awful tight.’
      • ‘Missy frowned as she screwed the top back onto the polish.’
      tighten, turn, twist, wind, work
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2no object, with adverbial (of an object) be attached or removed by being rotated by means of a spiral thread.
      ‘a connector which screws on to the gas cylinder’
      • ‘The nozzle closure screws over the base of the nozzle plate.’
      • ‘The resulting rack is suspended with a rope through a couple of pulleys, which screw into joists in the ceiling.’
      • ‘The shower head screws onto the shower arm stub out.’
    3. 1.3screw something around/round Turn one's head or body round sharply.
      ‘he screwed his head round to try to find the enemy’
  • 2informal with object Cheat or swindle (someone), especially by charging them too much for something.

    ‘the loss of advertising contracts will amount to more than the few quid that they're trying to screw us for’
    • ‘Australians are sick of the major banks screwing us daily.’
    • ‘The Treasurer is stuck defending policies that seem to be screwing the very people the Government claims to champion.’
    • ‘He spouted some nostrum about how people who ‘steal’ movies were screwing him, not the studios.’
    • ‘Trouble's, it's just a pointless greatest hits album to steal your cash and screw you.’
    • ‘He had been screwing the public purse for years as he mulled over the disgrace of being removed from the Commission because of corruption.’
    • ‘Having been screwed several times in start-up bust-ups, I do too.’
    • ‘By the end of the primaries, the most important black leader in the Democratic Party will be a man with a history of screwing the Democratic Party.’
    • ‘They are participating in, and benefitting from, the same government structure that is screwing us.’
    • ‘It's funny how must of the people who vote for him end up getting screwed the most by his economic policies.’
    • ‘It's not so much that they're screwing Belgium (a Franco-German tradition going back centuries), but that they have the ability and incentive to screw the euro.’
    • ‘Until then, though, I will only screw you out of several million dollars per person per year.’
    • ‘A demanding bandleader who insisted on a high level of professionalism, he rarely missed an opportunity to screw mates out of touring money or royalties.’
    • ‘We told him what was going on, and how Stallion was really screwing us and taking a lot of money from us.’
    • ‘Larry, it's a bad week to ask me that because the campaign kind of screwed me, but still I like him a lot.’
    • ‘They just screw you for an extra £8 per month because they can!’
    • ‘Said one agent involved in the negotiation, ‘We're tired of just screwing them out of their money!’’
    • ‘This is not an aberration; it is just business as usual - the business of screwing the poor for fun and profit.’
    • ‘Suddenly a new element was introduced into grocery shopping: if you don't haggle, you're getting screwed.’
    • ‘Now, here we've got what appears to be a corporate entity screwing an 80-year-old man out of his fair share.’
    • ‘This is a society which systematically screws its weakest members and then blames them for their predicament.’
    cheat, swindle, defraud, gazump, fleece
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1screw something out of Extort or force something, especially money, from (someone) by putting them under strong pressure.
      ‘your grandmother screwed cash out of him for ten years’
      • ‘By all means include these consumer organisations, but absolutely not the banks, even if the FSA hopes to screw some cash out of them.’
      • ‘I suspect they may have the idea that they have more chance of screwing concessions out of us.’
      • ‘It is simply their attempt to screw some extra cash out of people by using mawkish good taste music and pictures of babies in outsized hats.’
      • ‘‘The companies are taking advantage of the situation to screw some money out of the government,’ he admitted last week.’
      • ‘It could reduce interest rates to the rate of inflation, and stop trying to screw a profit out of borrowers.’
      • ‘I had various upgrades added and managed to screw a good deal out of them.’
      • ‘Together these poster boys for corporate greed put billions of dollars in their own pockets and those of their top execs, while screwing millions out of their employees and investors.’
      • ‘I have little sympathy for telcos who are desperate to keep screwing every penny out of customers.’
      extort, force, extract, wrest, wring, squeeze
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2be screwed Be in serious trouble.
      ‘if you're colour-blind, you're screwed’
      • ‘I must state now that I am completely screwed for Friday's exams.’
      • ‘I hope to hell that he isn't my enemy or I'm screwed!’
      • ‘Sure these machines are great when they are working, but if the slightest thing goes wrong you're completely screwed.’
      • ‘The manoeuvre would be perfect payback - the dynasty would continue and his former friends would be screwed in the one move.’
      • ‘When the odds are 5 to 1, you're basically screwed, but we still tried.’
      • ‘Luckily we got in before 1 a.m. or else we would've been screwed.’
      • ‘At least I work from home so I won't be totally screwed if I can't get a rental car right away, but I definitely don't want this thing to drag out.’
      • ‘I knew I was screwed but I held out as long as I could.’
      • ‘He was screwed; he knew it was time to stop bluffing.’
      • ‘On a more selfish note, am I going to be totally screwed because I don't even have a memorable catch-phrase?’
      • ‘I was lucky that I could play ball or else I probably would've been screwed.’
      • ‘If I were just a little bit more than a 44, I would be screwed big time, since most of the stores don't have sizes above 44!’
      • ‘If what she was reading was true, then they were seriously screwed.’
      • ‘Unless you've got $45 and a clever plot to get away from this school, you're screwed.’
      • ‘I get paranoid about these things, because I've been screwed before.’
      • ‘I'd be screwed if I had to do the same for Canada.’
      • ‘The interest rates are sky-high, and if you lose control just a couple of times you're pretty much screwed.’
      • ‘I couldn't find the key out there so I thought I was screwed.’
      • ‘If he needed the car for a meeting, then I was screwed.’
      • ‘Her confidence instantly left and she shouted out to the world, ‘I'm screwed!’’
  • 3vulgar slang with object Have sexual intercourse with.

    1. 3.1no object (of a couple) have sexual intercourse.
    2. 3.2in imperative Used to express anger or contempt.
      ‘I saw red and thought, ‘Screw you!’’
  • 4with object Impart spin or curl to (a ball or shot)

    ‘Collins had a late chance to equalize but screwed his shot wide’
    • ‘Horsfield muscled his way on to a long punt forward from Hughes and screwed a shot across goal.’
    • ‘The first half concluded with Philip Hughes screwing a shot wide from six yards.’
    • ‘Scholes is usually such an assured finisher but from six yards out he screwed his shot wide.’
    • ‘In one burst he screwed a shot across goal and wide, and from another he rushed a cross which allowed Scott Leitch to block for a corner.’
    • ‘Under pressure from Rubio, though, he screwed the shot wide.’
    1. 4.1British Billiards Snooker no object Play a shot with screw.
      ‘Johnson chose to screw back for the pink’
      • ‘Hann responded to Ebdon's first frame century by taking the next two and was on course for 3-1 until he potted the white, screwing back off the pink.’
      • ‘In potting a red Hendry failed to screw back far enough for pink, which was on the black spot.’

Phrases

  • have one's head screwed on (the right way)

    • informal Have common sense.

      ‘she's got her head screwed on and is very down to earth’
      • ‘This is a service to society and if people had their head screwed on right you would be paid for it.’
      • ‘Brian has his head screwed on as he wants to be a soccer manager when he grows up.’
      • ‘She is very stable and has her head screwed on, she knows how to cope with any situation.’
      • ‘Dubliner Colin Farrell seems to have his head screwed the right way as he takes fame with a pinch of salt.’
      • ‘By and large, she seems to have her head screwed on right, but I question one or two of her conclusions.’
      • ‘His stuff is always great, and he really has his head screwed on straight and tight.’
      • ‘Thankfully, the co-organiser seems to have his head screwed on, and is just getting on with it.’
      • ‘When it comes to constitutional matters, however, he seems to have his head screwed on right.’
      • ‘It does suit some people but you must have your head screwed on and be fully aware of both the risks and rewards.’
      • ‘Charles has always had his head screwed on right, but this past year, he's seemed, distracted.’
  • have a screw loose

    • informal Be slightly eccentric or mentally disturbed.

      ‘I think I must have a screw loose—I can't care about what might happen next’
      • ‘The first sign Backman had a screw loose was when he said at his introductory news conference that he intended to win immediately.’
      • ‘So, filled with a hubris limited to those with more than a couple screws loose, he offs him.’
      • ‘There was a moment when I allowed myself to entertain the notion that maybe I was right after all, and the rest of the world had a screw loose.’
      • ‘She looked at her sister like she had a screw loose.’
      • ‘Most people didn't think he had an actor's profile; they thought he had a screw loose.’
      • ‘Man, you have a screw loose in that head of yours!’
      • ‘People often say that it's harder to get out of the team that into it, but whoever believes that has a screw loose.’
      • ‘My school friends had thought I had a screw loose when I stopped to stare, head cocked to the side, curiosity raging when the moving truck had first arrived.’
      • ‘Some of my people have speculated about such things for a long time, but now it is official: it has been medically, clinically diagnosed that I have a screw loose.’
      • ‘Who could not think he has a screw loose after going on about seeing the devil on the stage?’
      unstable, unbalanced, of unsound mind, mentally ill, deranged, demented, crazed, troubled, disturbed, unhinged, insane, mad, mad as a hatter, mad as a march hare, raving mad, out of one's mind, not in one's right mind, neurotic, psychotic
      View synonyms
  • put the screws on

    • informal Exert strong psychological pressure on (someone) so as to intimidate them into doing something.

      ‘you put the screws on her and she submitted’
      • ‘Anyone else we have that's capable of this would refuse unless we put the screws on them, and that would guarantee the secret would get out.’
      • ‘Cassel seems to enjoy playing to the rafters and a tiny bit of fun can be had watching him put the screws on Owen.’
      • ‘He laughed and added, ‘You put the screws on me and I'm gonna screw right out from under you ever time, that's what I'm gonna do.’’
      • ‘Then Elsa started putting the screws on him to get married and to finalize his divorce with Mileva.’
      • ‘The Duke engineering department had been putting the screws on him for a major contribution.’
      • ‘With its fiscal predicament in mind, the manufacturer put the screws on legislators to offer it the sweetest deal available.’
      • ‘The BSA, however, went on to put the screws on the undergraduates.’
      • ‘Reinvigorating the local, workplace and school Stop the War groups is essential to creating a turnout that really puts the screws on the government.’
      • ‘Why did we wait until the summer of 2004 to put the screws on them?’
      • ‘The Authority's attempts to put the screws on farmers may have backfired despite having laid some alarming facts on the table during the past week.’
      pressurize, put pressure on, use pressure on, pressure, press, bring force to bear on, force, drive, impel, coerce, urge, push, nag
      View synonyms
  • a turn of the screw

    • informal An additional degree of pressure or hardship added to a situation that is already extremely difficult to bear.

      ‘the strategy was a further turn of the screw for a community already racked by paramilitary violence’
      • ‘Once the cap has been established, it is tightened over subsequent years as the public becomes inured to the last turn of the screw.’
      • ‘Although a wonderful turn of the screw to contemplate, it is not the argumentative tactic that I would promote.’
      • ‘The answer is likely to depend on the political turn of the screw.’
      • ‘His forced conversion, Antonio's final turn of the screw, makes a hilarious ending, Shylock's soul is saved.’
      • ‘Forced to return to her pitiably poor parents, she is finally forced into prostitution and each new event in her despairing life is a turn of the screw.’
      • ‘With that kind of pricing headroom, the company has several turns of the screw available against its struggling digital music competitors.’
      • ‘It's yet more turns of the propaganda screw, and no-one really knows what they're up to.’
      • ‘At first glance this might seem like a mere turn of the screw in a protracted legal process.’
  • turn (or tighten) the screw (or screws)

    • informal Exert strong pressure on someone.

      ‘the White House attempted to influence the vote by tightening the international screws on Managua’
      ‘Redcar's forwards turned the screw in the second half and two tries sealed the win’
      • ‘Unbanned and unbowed she may have been, but promoters now started to turn the financial screw on Jones.’
      • ‘It was when news finally became a profit center that management tightened the financial screws on the correspondents.’
      • ‘Kiltegan were still in there, if only with an outside chance as the second half got underway but Castletown lost no time in turning the screws.’
      • ‘Governments could have chosen to ease the pressure, but successive Labor and Liberal governments instead turned the screws.’
      • ‘With his assassination, the screw was turned once more.’
      • ‘Unless they want no leverage, which is what they have now in the middle of a fiscal year, they will wait until May or so to start turning the real screws.’
      • ‘Their aim was to tighten the economic screws and step up military provocations against in order to precipitate complete capitulation.’
      • ‘It seems now the screws have been turned on the web portal.’
      • ‘But in the long term, there's an inevitable logic to the screws being tightened.’
      • ‘With affluent urbanites pushing prices up, and second-homeowners turning the screw, how can young people ever afford houses of their own?’

Phrasal Verbs

  • screw around

    • 1Have many different sexual partners.

    • 2Fool about.

      ‘a lot of our songs come about with these guys playing and I just screw around and eventually come up with something’
      • ‘I've done nothing but screw around all day, I haven't even transcribed any of my notes.’
      • ‘Make up a story, screw around with it, needle the characters, make them say weird stuff, insert new people at inopportune moments and have fun.’
      • ‘I should just stop screwing around with the template, huh?’
      • ‘Another fellow stays late, never screws around, but still gets less done.’
      • ‘The rest of the weekend was spent screwing around with my computer.’
      • ‘I was looking forward to a nice relaxing evening of screwing around with some new software, but it was not to be.’
      • ‘I would prefer to be criticised for new things, screwing around with new formats.’
      • ‘I was screwing around on the guitar, and I came up with this riff and the lyrics are very personal.’
      • ‘Through the years I always took an interest in pop music and I would listen to bands that really had a great melodic aesthetic, but really screwed around with it a little more.’
      • ‘I don't even know, we just always screw around, and people think that's flirting.’
  • screw someone over

    • Treat someone unfairly; cheat or swindle someone.

      ‘I told the company that was trying to screw me over to get lost’
      • ‘It seems doubtful that he'd get much popular support for screwing over Jordan and fleeing to England, although I could be wrong.’
      • ‘In their zeal to throw the infidels and heretics out of the party, the hard right is going to end up overplaying their hand, overestimating their strength and screwing themselves over.’
      • ‘Now that I need the system, it's screwing me over.’
      • ‘Why do women trash and screw over the men who treat them with respect, honesty and trust?’
      • ‘I just found out that I trust too easily and he's been screwing me over for the past few months.’
      • ‘In studio offices, I'm certain there's always been a conspiracy to screw me over in at least three out of five categories.’
      • ‘The development of new technologies always screws somebody over in the end.’
      • ‘Apparently, being screwed over a thousand times by trade restrictions and corrupt governments isn't enough to merit compassion.’
      • ‘Resources are used to build settlements and cities, roads between them, and cards that do various things to benefit the cardholder or screw over other players.’
      • ‘Maybe it is the fact that I am just a guy who sits around and watches all his friends get screwed over, but I don't get it.’
  • screw up

    • 1(of the muscles of one's face or around one's eyes) contract, typically so as to express emotion or because of bright light.

      ‘his freckled face screwed up with childish annoyance’
      • ‘They sat in the shade, their weather beaten faces screwed up against the harsh light.’
      • ‘Before I pretend to pity him, Christopher Bailey's boyish face is already screwing up into a devilishly conspiratorial smirk.’
      • ‘Mr Black's wrinkly face screwed up to such a degree that he looked like a sun dried tomato.’
      • ‘He started when he looked down to see a red, puckered face, screwed up in a scowl while staring up at him.’
    • 2Completely mismanage or mishandle a situation.

      ‘I'm sorry, Susan, I screwed up’
      • ‘For most of my life, I've been in situations where people expect me to screw up.’
      • ‘The editors are the managers, so if the paper systematically screws up, it's down to them, not the reporters.’
      • ‘In any other situation, if an employee screws up, they get fired.’
      • ‘Hey, an occasional friendship flub is no biggie - everybody screws up.’
      • ‘And I know I don't hesitate to call him out when I think he's screwing up.’
      • ‘What am I going to tell my daughter when she screws up?’
      • ‘What I love is when the accountant screws up on a simple piece of multiplication.’
      • ‘I'm thinking a majority of us would rather be governed by a real human than a bunch of people who never admit to actually screwing up.’
      • ‘If Clark screws up, the establishment is going to look pretty silly.’
      • ‘He's called me on the phone, or pulled me aside when he thought I was screwing up.’
  • screw someone up

    • Cause someone to be emotionally or mentally disturbed.

      ‘this job can really screw you up’
      • ‘I noticed that something Fred said really screwed you up, do you want to talk about it?’
      • ‘It is an overly idealized institution that royally screws up more people than it benefits.’
      • ‘Pretending to be his girlfriend, will probably only screw me up in the head even more.’
      • ‘‘Our first job is to not screw him up,’ McLaughlin said with a laugh.’
      • ‘Nobody has a perfect life, and, just think, if you are screwed up in a sufficiently imaginative way, your children can always use it as creative ballast.’
      • ‘I understand that having both of your parents die on you when you're only five years old could completely screw you up for the rest of your life.’
      • ‘Virtually everything about the way staff treated me in the hospital screwed me up.’
      • ‘That kind of cognitive dissonance will really screw you up, and it will manifest in many more ways than just loss of attraction.’
      • ‘The rush of emotions and the intensity of being whooshed back to the time in my life when we were together screwed me up for weeks.’
      • ‘I do now feel a degree of sympathy for the guy; I now know that he isn't just terminally sad, but he's also fairly screwed up.’
  • screw something up

    • 1Crush a piece of paper or fabric into a tight mass.

      ‘he screwed the note up and threw it away’
      • ‘His eyes flickered, and he screwed the paper up in his fist.’
      • ‘She was curled up in a ball and was surrounded a by a pile of screwed up tissues.’
      • ‘I want to write my faults out on a sheet of paper; screw it up and throw it in the trash.’
      • ‘I'd announce to a sceptical world, screwing up another packet of fags before chucking it - and my latest disposable lighter - into the outside bin.’
      • ‘Once you do that you can take your ballot paper and screw it up and throw it away if you want.’
      • ‘He turns the radio off and screws the paper up in a ball and swears that the dictator had the right idea after all.’
      1. 1.1Tense the muscles of one's face or around one's eyes, typically so as to register an emotion or because of bright light.
        ‘Christina screwed up her face in distaste’
        ‘Willie screwed up his eyes and peered upwards’
        • ‘I just screwed up my face and waited till he pulled it out.’
        • ‘Margaret listens quietly to our opinions, then screws up her face, deep in thought.’
        • ‘She looks down, screws up her face and peers at me.’
        • ‘Chloe screwed up her nose and crossed her arms over her purple PJ's.’
        • ‘He grasped the stems sweatily, screwing his eyes shut and praying hard.’
        • ‘She just screwed up her face like she was about to cry and then changed the subject.’
        • ‘Lana screwed up her nose and made a face, ‘Not for a second!’’
        • ‘Squint your eyes, screw up your face and study the glossy frames and you'll find them fascinating.’
        • ‘A torch was flicked on and Tam winced in the light, screwing up his eyes.’
        • ‘His eyes were screwed tight as he hissed in pain.’
        wrinkle, wrinkle up, pucker, crumple, crease, furrow, contort, distort, twist, purse
        View synonyms
    • 2Cause something to fail or go wrong.

      ‘why are you trying to screw up your life?’
      • ‘Predictably, it screwed everything up not only for my Broadband account email, but 3 other email accounts too - leaving me able to receive mail but unable to send anything.’
      • ‘He's a good friend of mine, and I don't want to screw that up too much.’
      • ‘Well, if only one television program screws this up, it is a reflection on the stupidity and incompetence of its producers and hosts.’
      • ‘If he thinks I'm doing something wrong or if I break something or screw something up he gives me extra cleaning duties to do at closing time.’
      • ‘I screwed up my life, and with it I screwed up yours too!’
      • ‘Have I done something wrong, did I screw something up?’
      • ‘I sat down and read the orders a couple times to be sure I wouldn't screw anything up.’
      • ‘I felt as though I was useless, I just screwed everything up.’
      • ‘Clearly, Sherman has rolled the dice, but he knows Glenn can't screw this one up if he wants to play football again.’
      • ‘If you do the steps wrong, you screw it up.’
      wreck, ruin, destroy, devastate, wreak havoc on, reduce to nothing, damage, spoil, mar, injure, blast, blight, smash, shatter, dash, torpedo, scotch, make a mess of, mess up
      View synonyms
    • 3Summon up one's courage.

      ‘now Stephen had to screw up his courage and confess’
      • ‘The ranger screwed up his courage and decided to look in on Father Goodwin.’
      • ‘I was interested, I told the salesman, screwing up my courage - but I'd already seen it cheaper somewhere else.’
      • ‘I screwed up my courage to ask him what was uppermost in my mind.’
      • ‘Kelly himself wasn't an agonised man screwing up his courage to approach the one journalist he knew and trusted.’
      • ‘The scene in which the host and hostess of the tavern screw their courage up before murdering Thomas Cole has been seen as an analogue to Macbeth.’
      • ‘It is worth screwing up your courage and following them, if only for the flowers.’
      • ‘I've been trying to screw up the courage to call you ever since.’

Origin

Late Middle English (as a noun): from Old French escroue ‘female screw, nut’, from Latin scrofa, literally ‘sow’, later ‘screw’. The early sense of the verb was ‘contort (the features), twist around’ (late 16th century).

Pronunciation

screw

/skruː/