Definition of put the screws on in US English:

put the screws on


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

    • ‘The Duke engineering department had been putting the screws on him for a major contribution.’
    • ‘Reinvigorating the local, workplace and school Stop the War groups is essential to creating a turnout that really puts the screws on the government.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Then Elsa started putting the screws on him to get married and to finalize his divorce with Mileva.’
    • ‘The BSA, however, went on to put the screws on the undergraduates.’
    • ‘Why did we wait until the summer of 2004 to put the screws on them?’
    • ‘With its fiscal predicament in mind, the manufacturer put the screws on legislators to offer it the sweetest deal available.’
    • ‘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.’’
    pressurize, put pressure on, use pressure on, pressure, press, bring force to bear on, force, drive, impel, coerce, urge, push, nag
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