Definition of screw in English:



  • 1A short, slender, sharp-pointed metal pin with a raised helical thread running around 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.

    • ‘The gypsum board must be attached to the wood furring strips or underlying masonry using nails or screws.’
    • ‘To take apart, remove two small Phillips screws on each side up under where the nightlight is.’
    • ‘These planes are made with two separate stocks held together with either metal or turned wooden screws.’
    • ‘If necessary, adjust by slackening the center screw and rotating the outer 5/8-inch hexagon nut.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Surgeons rebuilt his shattered legs using metal plates held together by 27 screws.’
    • ‘Builders will appreciate the fact that plastic lumber can hold nails and screws better than wood.’
    • ‘If you happen to hit framing while drilling, use a screw instead of a toggle bolt at that location.’
    • ‘They are held in place with Torx screws, a nice touch and another upgrade from the usual slotted screws.’
    • ‘They tend to be solid objects made of plastics, metals, and ceramics held together by screws, clips, adhesives, and heat seals.’
    • ‘The bolt jiggled and slowly raised, the heavy screw in it slowly coming undone, until it was almost teetering out.’
    • ‘With vinyl windows, avoid frames that are held together with screws because they tend to loosen over time.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Hand-carved wooden pegs - never nails, screws, or anything else metal - are driven in with stone hammers.’
    • ‘This smooth and more experienced screwdriver had strengths mine did not, and it sunk the remaining loose screws deep into the wood.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Be sure to use galvanized screws or nails to build and hang them so they won't rust.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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. 1.1A cylinder with a helical ridge or thread running around 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)
      • ‘A nice touch is a tripod socket which accepts a standard tripod screw.’
      • ‘Making this cider press screw is reported to have been a whole winter's work by a carpenter in southern Pennsylvania.’
      • ‘The inner diameters of the seals were adapted to the diameters of the basal parts of root systems and adjusted by screws.’
      • ‘The pivot rod is released by loosening a clevis screw on the lift rod assembly.’
      • ‘It is secured with special spring-loaded screws for uniform hold-down pressure.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Adjust the syrup screw on the fountain head to make the drink stronger to suit your taste.’
    2. 1.2historical An instrument of torture having the action of a screw.
    3. 1.3A ship's or aircraft's propeller (considered as acting like a screw in moving through water or air)
      • ‘The subsequent development of the screw propeller, concealed beneath the surface of the water, yielded greater maneuverability as well as greater protection.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The warship was then hit by a torpedo, which rendered her screws and rudders useless.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He engaged the engine, causing two large screw propellers to whirl frantically and the wood and cloth contraption to lift off the ground.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Its screw lies in 36m of water and general depth on the deck is around 26m.’
      • ‘In 1845, the British Admiralty sponsored a demonstration to determine which was superior, the paddle wheel or screw propeller; the latter clearly won.’
      • ‘But steamships were improving as the screw propeller replaced the paddle wheel and iron replaced wood.’
      propeller, rotor
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  • 2An act of turning a screw or other object having a thread.

    turn, twist, wrench, lever, heave
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1British Billiards
      another term for draw
    2. 2.2British A small twisted-up piece of paper, used as a container for 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 prison guard or warden.

    • ‘In order to find out, he stuck 18 volunteers in a mock prison, arbitrarily making them either lags or screws.’
    • ‘All becomes clear later and we settle down onto familiar prison drama territory with mouthy cons, bent screws and idealistic governors.’
    • ‘One day the screws opened the solitary confinement cell and a brown paper bag was thrust inside.’
    • ‘Marijuana was sort of a sedative sort of drug as far as the screws and prison authorities were concerned.’
    • ‘You don't go to jails and see screws whose main aim is to rehabilitate people.’
    • ‘All of them have severely injured screws or other inmates.’
    • ‘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. 4.1[with 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’
  • 6British archaic, informal A mean or miserly person.

  • 7British informal A worn-out horse.

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


  • 1[with object] Fasten or tighten with a screw or screws.

    ‘screw the hinge to your new door’
    • ‘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 was a camera literally screwed to the wall with a couple of lights.’
    • ‘The batten tips can be screwed in and out to set the overall length of the batten.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘You then attach the bracket by screwing the #1 screw through the bracket into the sliders.’
    • ‘Remove anything that isn't nailed or screwed down.’
    • ‘I cut the wood to lengths and screwed together the most haphazard structure of my whole life.’
    • ‘The top layer was screwed down to the bottom layer in essence creating a one piece quiet, rigid, non-creaking floor.’
    • ‘The control panel earth wire will need to be securely screwed to the chassis of the vehicle.’
    • ‘I then bought brass hardware and screwed the handle into the top of the frame.’
    • ‘Moved the DSL modem and both hubs on top of a filing cabinet, screwed their surge bar onto the wall, organised the cables, etc.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They stand right on the edge of the roof, bolting and screwing this thing into place.’
    • ‘I screwed two brackets into the doorframe, then took an old barbell and cut it to fit.’
    • ‘Rather than being screwed on they were riveted.’
    • ‘There are no knocks, creaks or rattles either, indicating that it's been well screwed together.’
    • ‘Once in place, go ahead and screw in the other two hard-drive screws, and tighten all four down.’
    • ‘I undress and hang my orange attire upon a steel hanger that is securely screwed into the wall.’
    • ‘I liked this thing a great deal and it now sits screwed firmly to the closet wall in the bedroom.’
    • ‘A slab of wood screwed to the sitting room wall at waist height, took the extension blocks.’
    fasten, secure, fix, attach, clamp, bolt, rivet, batten
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Rotate (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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Jason suddenly grabbed the bottle and opened it, albeit with some difficult, as it was screwed on tight.’
      • ‘Joe screwed the top back on the canteen, and squeezed, on his back, under the wagon bed.’
      • ‘Strain it into fizzy drink bottles, making sure you screw the cap on tight.’
      • ‘I answered, holding the phone up to my ear with my shoulder while I screwed the top back onto my bottle of nail polish.’
      • ‘Silently, he went to his car, removed the pistol from the glove box, screwed on the silencer, and placed it under his coat.’
      • ‘But for a drink that they want you to drink when you have no energy, they sure screw the cap on awful tight.’
      • ‘Finally she screwed the top back on the antiseptic bottle and gave me a look.’
      • ‘I accidentally screwed it in too tight and the head of the bolt tore off.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Are you upset that he occasionally forgets to screw the top back on the toothpaste tube?’
      • ‘Thinking quickly I pulled out a smooth black cylinder from my pocket and screwed it into the top of the my gun.’
      • ‘Missy frowned as she screwed the top back onto the polish.’
      • ‘One huge plus is when you have leftover wine you just screw the top back on.’
      • ‘She screwed the top on and placed it in her purse.’
      • ‘Place the lids on top of the jars, and screw them down finger-tight.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      tighten, turn, twist, wind, work
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    2. 1.2[no object](of an object) be attached or removed by being rotated in this way.
      ‘a connector that screws on to the gas cylinder’
      • ‘The nozzle closure screws over the base of the nozzle plate.’
      • ‘The shower head screws onto the shower arm stub out.’
      • ‘The resulting rack is suspended with a rope through a couple of pulleys, which screw into joists in the ceiling.’
    3. 1.3Turn one's head or body around sharply.
      ‘he screwed his head around to try and find the enemy’
  • 2informal [with object] Cheat or swindle (someone), especially by charging them too much for something.

    ‘if you do what they tell you, you're screwed’
    ‘we ended up getting more money than what they were trying to screw us for’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Trouble's, it's just a pointless greatest hits album to steal your cash and screw you.’
    • ‘Having been screwed several times in start-up bust-ups, I do too.’
    • ‘He had been screwing the public purse for years as he mulled over the disgrace of being removed from the Commission because of corruption.’
    • ‘It's funny how must of the people who vote for him end up getting screwed the most by his economic policies.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The Treasurer is stuck defending policies that seem to be screwing the very people the Government claims to champion.’
    • ‘They just screw you for an extra £8 per month because they can!’
    • ‘He spouted some nostrum about how people who ‘steal’ movies were screwing him, not the studios.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Said one agent involved in the negotiation, ‘We're tired of just screwing them out of their money!’’
    • ‘We told him what was going on, and how Stallion was really screwing us and taking a lot of money from us.’
    • ‘They are participating in, and benefitting from, the same government structure that is screwing us.’
    • ‘Until then, though, I will only screw you out of several million dollars per person per year.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This is not an aberration; it is just business as usual - the business of screwing the poor for fun and profit.’
    • ‘This is a society which systematically screws its weakest members and then blames them for their predicament.’
    • ‘Australians are sick of the major banks screwing us daily.’
    • ‘Larry, it's a bad week to ask me that because the campaign kind of screwed me, but still I like him a lot.’
    cheat, swindle, defraud, gazump, fleece
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1Extort or force something, especially money, from (someone) by putting them under strong pressure.
      ‘your grandmother screwed cash out of him for ten years’
      • ‘‘The companies are taking advantage of the situation to screw some money out of the government,’ he admitted last week.’
      • ‘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 had various upgrades added and managed to screw a good deal out of them.’
      • ‘I have little sympathy for telcos who are desperate to keep screwing every penny out of customers.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It could reduce interest rates to the rate of inflation, and stop trying to screw a profit out of borrowers.’
      • ‘I suspect they may have the idea that they have more chance of screwing concessions out of us.’
      extort, force, extract, wrest, wring, squeeze
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  • 3vulgar slang [with object] Have sexual intercourse with.

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

    another term for draw


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

    • informal Have common sense.

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

    • informal Be slightly eccentric or mentally disturbed.

      • ‘People often say that it's harder to get out of the team that into it, but whoever believes that has a screw loose.’
      • ‘Man, you have a screw loose in that head of yours!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘Most people didn't think he had an actor's profile; they thought he had a screw loose.’
      • ‘So, filled with a hubris limited to those with more than a couple screws loose, he offs him.’
      • ‘She looked at her sister like she had a screw loose.’
      • ‘The first sign Backman had a screw loose was when he said at his introductory news conference that he intended to win immediately.’
      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
      non compos mentis
      crazy, loopy, loony, mixed up, nuts, nutty, nutty as a fruitcake, bananas, cracked, crackpot, daft, dippy, screwy, batty, dotty, cuckoo, bonkers, potty, mental, screwed up, not all there, off one's head, out of one's head, out to lunch, a bit lacking, round the bend, round the twist, away with the fairies
      barmy, crackers, barking, barking mad, off one's trolley, off one's rocker, daft as a brush, not the full shilling
      nutsy, nutso, squirrelly, wacko, buggy
      View synonyms
  • put the screws on

    • informal 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘Cassel seems to enjoy playing to the rafters and a tiny bit of fun can be had watching him put the screws on Owen.’
      • ‘With its fiscal predicament in mind, the manufacturer put the screws on legislators to offer it the sweetest deal available.’
      • ‘Then Elsa started putting the screws on him to get married and to finalize his divorce with Mileva.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Reinvigorating the local, workplace and school Stop the War groups is essential to creating a turnout that really puts the screws on the government.’
      pressurize, put pressure on, use pressure on, pressure, press, bring force to bear on, force, drive, impel, coerce, urge, push, nag
      lean on, prevail on
      dragoon, steamroller, browbeat, use strong-arm tactics on, have someone do something
      hold a gun to someone's head, hold a pistol to someone's head, put a gun to someone's head, put a pistol to someone's head
      put the heat on, put the squeeze on, twist someone's arm, railroad, bulldoze
      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.

      • ‘It's yet more turns of the propaganda screw, and no-one really knows what they're up to.’
      • ‘With that kind of pricing headroom, the company has several turns of the screw available against its struggling digital music competitors.’
      • ‘At first glance this might seem like a mere turn of the screw in a protracted legal process.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Once the cap has been established, it is tightened over subsequent years as the public becomes inured to the last turn of the screw.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Although a wonderful turn of the screw to contemplate, it is not the argumentative tactic that I would promote.’
  • turn (or tighten) the screw (or screws)

    • informal Exert strong pressure on someone.

      • ‘With his assassination, the screw was turned once more.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘With affluent urbanites pushing prices up, and second-homeowners turning the screw, how can young people ever afford houses of their own?’
      • ‘Governments could have chosen to ease the pressure, but successive Labor and Liberal governments instead turned the screws.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • screw around

    • 1Have many different sexual partners.

    • 2Fool around.

      • ‘I would prefer to be criticised for new things, screwing around with new formats.’
      • ‘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've done nothing but screw around all day, I haven't even transcribed any of my notes.’
      • ‘I don't even know, we just always screw around, and people think that's flirting.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The rest of the weekend was spent screwing around with my computer.’
      • ‘Another fellow stays late, never screws around, but still gets less done.’
      • ‘I should just stop screwing around with the template, huh?’
      • ‘I was screwing around on the guitar, and I came up with this riff and the lyrics are very personal.’
      • ‘I was looking forward to a nice relaxing evening of screwing around with some new software, but it was not to be.’
  • screw someone over

    • Treat someone unfairly; cheat or swindle someone.

      • ‘I just found out that I trust too easily and he's been screwing me over for the past few months.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Why do women trash and screw over the men who treat them with respect, honesty and trust?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Apparently, being screwed over a thousand times by trade restrictions and corrupt governments isn't enough to merit compassion.’
      • ‘In studio offices, I'm certain there's always been a conspiracy to screw me over in at least three out of five categories.’
      • ‘Now that I need the system, it's screwing me over.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It seems doubtful that he'd get much popular support for screwing over Jordan and fleeing to England, although I could be wrong.’
      • ‘The development of new technologies always screws somebody over in the end.’
  • screw up

    • Completely mismanage or mishandle a situation.

      ‘I'm sorry, Susan, I screwed up’
      • ‘In any other situation, if an employee screws up, they get fired.’
      • ‘He's called me on the phone, or pulled me aside when he thought I was screwing up.’
      • ‘Hey, an occasional friendship flub is no biggie - everybody screws up.’
      • ‘What I love is when the accountant screws up on a simple piece of multiplication.’
      • ‘For most of my life, I've been in situations where people expect me to screw up.’
      • ‘And I know I don't hesitate to call him out when I think he's screwing up.’
      • ‘If Clark screws up, the establishment is going to look pretty silly.’
      • ‘What am I going to tell my daughter when she screws up?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The editors are the managers, so if the paper systematically screws up, it's down to them, not the reporters.’
  • screw someone up

    • Cause someone to be emotionally or mentally disturbed.

      ‘this job can really screw you up’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘Our first job is to not screw him up,’ McLaughlin said with a laugh.’
      • ‘That kind of cognitive dissonance will really screw you up, and it will manifest in many more ways than just loss of attraction.’
      • ‘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 noticed that something Fred said really screwed you up, do you want to talk about it?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • screw something up

    • 1Tense the muscles of one's face or around one's eyes, typically so as to register an emotion or because of bright light.

      • ‘Lana screwed up her nose and made a face, ‘Not for a second!’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Squint your eyes, screw up your face and study the glossy frames and you'll find them fascinating.’
      • ‘She looks down, screws up her face and peers at me.’
      • ‘She just screwed up her face like she was about to cry and then changed the subject.’
      • ‘His eyes were screwed tight as he hissed in pain.’
      • ‘A torch was flicked on and Tam winced in the light, screwing up his eyes.’
      • ‘Margaret listens quietly to our opinions, then screws up her face, deep in thought.’
      • ‘I just screwed up my face and waited till he pulled it out.’
      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?’
      • ‘Clearly, Sherman has rolled the dice, but he knows Glenn can't screw this one up if he wants to play football again.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He's a good friend of mine, and I don't want to screw that up too much.’
      • ‘I screwed up my life, and with it I screwed up yours too!’
      • ‘If you do the steps wrong, you screw it up.’
      • ‘I felt as though I was useless, I just screwed everything up.’
      • ‘I sat down and read the orders a couple times to be sure I wouldn't screw anything up.’
      • ‘Well, if only one television program screws this up, it is a reflection on the stupidity and incompetence of its producers and hosts.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Have I done something wrong, did I screw something 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.’
      • ‘It is worth screwing up your courage and following them, if only for the flowers.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Kelly himself wasn't an agonised man screwing up his courage to approach the one journalist he knew and trusted.’
      • ‘I've been trying to screw up the courage to call you ever since.’


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).