from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A cylindrical rod incised with one or more helical or advancing spiral threads, as a lead screw or worm screw.
  • n. The tapped collar or socket that receives this rod.
  • n. A metal pin with incised threads and a broad slotted head that can be driven as a fastener by turning with a screwdriver, especially:
  • n. A tapered and pointed wood screw.
  • n. A cylindrical and flat-tipped machine screw.
  • n. A device having a helical form, such as a corkscrew.
  • n. A propeller.
  • n. A twist or turn of or as if of a screw.
  • n. Slang A prison guard.
  • n. Slang The turnkey of a jail.
  • n. Vulgar Slang The act or an instance of having sexual intercourse.
  • n. Chiefly British Slang Salary; wages.
  • n. Chiefly British Slang A small paper packet, as of tobacco.
  • n. Chiefly British Slang An old broken-down horse.
  • n. Chiefly British Slang A stingy or crafty bargainer.
  • transitive v. To drive or tighten (a screw).
  • transitive v. To fasten, tighten, or attach by or as if by means of a screw.
  • transitive v. To attach (a tapped or threaded fitting or cap) by twisting into place.
  • transitive v. To rotate (a part) on a threaded axis.
  • transitive v. To contort (one's face).
  • transitive v. Slang To take advantage of; cheat: screwed me out of the most lucrative sales territory.
  • transitive v. Vulgar Slang To have sexual intercourse with.
  • intransitive v. To turn or twist.
  • intransitive v. To become attached by means of the threads of a screw.
  • intransitive v. To be capable of such attachment.
  • intransitive v. Vulgar Slang To have sexual intercourse.
  • screw around Slang To act or fool around aimlessly or in a confused way and accomplish nothing.
  • screw around Vulgar Slang To be sexually promiscuous.
  • screw up To muster or summon up: screwed up my courage.
  • screw up Slang To make a mess of (an undertaking).
  • screw up Slang To injure; damage: Lifting those boxes really screwed up my back.
  • screw up Slang To make neurotic or anxious.
  • idiom have a screw loose Slang To behave in an eccentric manner.
  • idiom have a screw loose Slang To be insane.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A simple machine, a helical inclined plane.
  • n. A (usually) metal fastener consisting of a shank partially or completely threaded shank, sometimes with a threaded point, and a head used to both hold the top material and to drive the screw either directly into a soft material or into a prepared hole.
  • n. A ship's propeller.
  • n. An Archimedes screw.
  • n. A prisonguard.
  • n. Sexual intercourse; the act of screwing.
  • n. A casual sexual partner.
  • n. Salary, wages.
  • n. Backspin.
  • v. To connect or assemble pieces using a screw.
  • v. To have sexual intercourse with.
  • v. To cheat someone or ruin their chances in a game or other situation. Sometimes used in the form "screw over".
  • v. To apply pressure on; to put the screws on.
  • v. To contort
  • v. To miskick (a ball) by hitting it with the wrong part of the foot.
  • v. To screw back.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A cylinder, or a cylindrical perforation, having a continuous rib, called the thread, winding round it spirally at a constant inclination, so as to leave a continuous spiral groove between one turn and the next, -- used chiefly for producing, when revolved, motion or pressure in the direction of its axis, by the sliding of the threads of the cylinder in the grooves between the threads of the perforation adapted to it, the former being distinguished as the external, or male screw, or, more usually the screw; the latter as the internal, or female screw, or, more usually, the nut.
  • n. Specifically, a kind of nail with a spiral thread and a head with a nick to receive the end of the screw-driver. Screws are much used to hold together pieces of wood or to fasten something; -- called also wood screws, and screw nails. See also Screw bolt, below.
  • n. Anything shaped or acting like a screw; esp., a form of wheel for propelling steam vessels. It is placed at the stern, and furnished with blades having helicoidal surfaces to act against the water in the manner of a screw. See Screw propeller, below.
  • n. A steam vesel propelled by a screw instead of wheels; a screw steamer; a propeller.
  • n. An extortioner; a sharp bargainer; a skinflint; a niggard.
  • n. An instructor who examines with great or unnecessary severity; also, a searching or strict examination of a student by an instructor.
  • n. A small packet of tobacco.
  • n. An unsound or worn-out horse, useful as a hack, and commonly of good appearance.
  • n. A straight line in space with which a definite linear magnitude termed the pitch is associated (cf. 5th Pitch, 10 (b)). It is used to express the displacement of a rigid body, which may always be made to consist of a rotation about an axis combined with a translation parallel to that axis.
  • n. An amphipod crustacean. See Sand screw, under Sand.
  • intransitive v. To use violent mans in making exactions; to be oppressive or exacting.
  • intransitive v. To turn one's self uneasily with a twisting motion.
  • transitive v. To turn, as a screw; to apply a screw to; to press, fasten, or make firm, by means of a screw or screws.
  • transitive v. To force; to squeeze; to press, as by screws.
  • transitive v. Hence: To practice extortion upon; to oppress by unreasonable or extortionate exactions.
  • transitive v. To twist; to distort.
  • transitive v. To examine rigidly, as a student; to subject to a severe examination.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To turn, move, tighten, fasten, press, or make firm by a screw, or by giving a turn to a screw: apply a screw to, for the purpose of turning, moving, tightening, fastening, or pressing: as, to screw up a bracket; to screw a lock on a door; to screw a press.
  • To turn or cause to turn, as if by the application of a screw; twist.
  • To force; especially, to force by the application of pressure similar to that exerted by the advancing action or motion of a screw; squeeze: sometimes with up or out: as, to screw up one's courage.
  • To press hard upon; oppress as by exactions or vexatious restrictions or conditions.
  • To twist; contort; distort; turn so as to distort.
  • To turn so as to serve for tightening, fastening, etc.: as, a nut that screws to the right or to the left.
  • To have or assume a spiral or twisting motion: as, the ball screwed to the left.
  • To move or advance by means of a screw propeller.
  • To require students to work hard, or subject them to strict examination.
  • In golf, to impart a side spin to a ball.
  • n. The hole in which a screw (in sense 2) turns.
  • n. A cylinder of wood or metal having a spiral ridge (the thread) winding round it, usually turning in a hollow cylinder, in which a spiral channel is cut corresponding to the ridge.
  • n. A spiral shell; a screw-shell.
  • n. A screw propeller.
  • n. [Short for screw steamer.] A steam-vessel propelled by means of a screw propeller.
  • n. A small parcel of tobacco done up in paper with twisted ends, and usually sold for a penny.
  • n. A turn of a screw.
  • n. A twist or turn to one side: as, to give a billiard-ball a screw by striking it low down or on one side with a sharp, sudden blow.
  • n. Pressure: usually with the.
  • n. A professor or tutor who requires students to work hard, or who subjects them to strict examination.
  • n. Wages or salary.
  • n. In mathematics, a geometrical form resulting from the combination of an axis, or straight line given in position, with a pitch or linear magnitude.
  • n. A stingy fellow; a close or penurious person; one who makes a sharp bargain; an extortioner; a miser; a skinflint.
  • n. A vicious, unsound, or broken-down horse.
  • n. In English billiards, the draw shot. The movement actually is a screw, but so, in the opposite direction, is the follow shot, though it is not so named. When pocket-openings were larger it was by means of the screw, mainly, that long ‘spot-ball’ runs were made in England and America.
  • n. A mechanical loader for handling and lowering bales of cotton into the cargo-space of vessels.
  • n. A screw placed against the edge of a disk and fitting into helical teeth formed on that edge, so that when the screw is turned a very fine angular motion of the disk results. It also acts as a clamp to prevent angular motion except when the screw is turned. It is used for index plates in gear-cutters to divide the circle into aliquot parts and on the graduated limbs and verniers of astronomical, surveying, and other instruments.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. defeat someone through trickery or deceit
  • v. turn like a screw
  • v. tighten or fasten by means of screwing motions
  • n. someone who guards prisoners
  • n. slang for sexual intercourse
  • n. a propeller with several angled blades that rotates to push against water or air
  • v. cause to penetrate, as with a circular motion
  • n. a fastener with a tapered threaded shank and a slotted head
  • n. a simple machine of the inclined-plane type consisting of a spirally threaded cylindrical rod that engages with a similarly threaded hole
  • v. have sexual intercourse with


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English skrewe, from Old French escrove, female screw, nut, perhaps from Medieval Latin scrōfa, from Latin, sow

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English screw, scrue ("screw"); apparently, despite the difference in meaning, from Old French escroue ("nut, cylindrical socket, screwhole"), of uncertain origin. There is also the Old French escruve ("screw"), from Old Dutch *scrūva ("screw"; whence Middle Dutch schruyve ("screw")), which probably influenced or conflated with the aforementioned resulting in the Middle English word.


  • Bureau chief Small chided me for using the word screw on the air, which had elicited complaints from the Bible Belt.

    Staying Tuned

  • BTW, for those of you who have noticed that I use the term screw up often when discussing Obama's policies, if you look at election history the incumbent party only loses when the voters perceive they have screwed up.


  • The fixing of the screw is the end result of intelligent guidance coupled with the use of the appropriate enabling tools.

    Are Stereochemical Explanations Causally Sufficient?

  • One dramatic consequence of this steady tightening of the screw is the increasing difficulties encountered by Iran Air, the state airline, in refuelling its planes in Europe.

    Dread juggernaut of conflict with Iran is drawing closer

  • I shouldn't say police scandal, because -- we don't believe the government of Germany is culpable for what we call a screw-up.

    The Fall of Pan Am 103: Inside the Lockerbie Investigation

  • Based near Bordeaux, WIT is a recently founded firm that packages wine in screw-cap glass tubes containing 4, 5, 6 or 10 centiliters of wine to be sent out as gifts, samples or as "the business card you can drink."

    It's Lights, Camera, Strike in France

  • So if you magnetize the screw from a meat grinder so the magnetic flux is denser at the top than it is at the bottom, the ferrofluid will climb the screw like staircase.

    Boing Boing

  • Make sure the length of the screw is just enough to engage the BB shell but does not protrude up like a snorkel, keeping the water from draining out.

    Technical FAQ with Lennard Zinn: Peeling AquaSeal and Campy goes electric

  • If the Republicans get back into power without learning their lessons from the Bush years, I have every expectation that they will once again screw us for personal and political gain.

    CNN Poll: Is President Obama a strong leader?

  • Who cares what Andrews think, he failed at his job during Gore's run at the Presidency and if Obama is the nominee for the Dem's the elitist will again screw this up.

    Major Clinton backer switches to Obama


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