Definition of spanner in English:



  • A tool with a shaped opening or jaws for gripping and turning a nut or bolt.

    • ‘Unless you have pretty particular interests you're probably not going to have much use for a magnifying glass, a spanner or a miniature jig-saw.’
    • ‘He collects some other tools, a hammer, nails, spanners, screwdrivers and a few more saw-blades, and slots them into the zippered pouches on his backpack.’
    • ‘Even so, their intervention is a big a spanner in the Compaq takeover works.’
    • ‘Avoid the things he needs - like a new spanner or woollen jumper - and impress him with imagination and flair.’
    • ‘I know one particular man who actually got a rowing boat and went across in his dinner hour and welded spanners, wedges and hammers to the bulk head and rowed back again.’
    • ‘They hover on the brink of existence in a flat-pack limbo until I can find my adjustable spanner.’
    • ‘The cabbie starts his rickety old taxi with a knock of a spanner.’
    • ‘Max looked up from the spanner he was calibrating with a small tool.’
    • ‘He is friendly with them and once managed to mend a leaking pipe for them with his spanner.’
    • ‘Three young men from Anjanvara wield spanners and engine grease with thinly-veiled pride, mastering a new set of skills.’
    spanner, adjustable spanner
    View synonyms


Late 18th century: from German spannen draw tight + -er.