from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A cylindrical rod incised with one or more helical or advancing spiral threads, as a lead screw or worm screw.
  • noun The tapped collar or socket that receives this rod.
  • noun A metal pin with incised threads and a broad slotted head that can be driven as a fastener by turning with a screwdriver, especially.
  • noun A tapered and pointed wood screw.
  • noun A cylindrical and flat-tipped machine screw.
  • noun A device having a helical form, such as a corkscrew.
  • noun A propeller.
  • noun A twist or turn, as of a screw.
  • noun A prison guard.
  • noun The turnkey of a jail.
  • noun Vulgar Slang The act or an instance of having sexual intercourse.
  • noun Salary; wages.
  • noun A small paper packet, as of tobacco.
  • noun An old broken-down horse.
  • noun A stingy or crafty bargainer.
  • intransitive verb To drive or tighten (a screw).
  • intransitive verb To fasten, tighten, or attach by means of a screw or similar fastener.
  • intransitive verb To attach (a tapped or threaded fitting or cap) by twisting into place.
  • intransitive verb To rotate (a part) on a threaded axis.
  • intransitive verb To contort (one's face).
  • intransitive verb To treat (someone) unfairly; exploit or cheat.
  • intransitive verb Vulgar Slang To have sexual intercourse with.
  • intransitive verb To turn or twist.
  • intransitive verb To become attached by means of the threads of a screw.
  • intransitive verb To be capable of such attachment.
  • intransitive verb Vulgar Slang To have sexual intercourse.
  • idiom (have a screw loose) To behave in an eccentric or mentally deranged manner.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A stingy fellow; a close or penurious person; one who makes a sharp bargain; an extortioner; a miser; a skinflint.
  • noun A vicious, unsound, or broken-down horse.
  • In golf, to impart a side spin to a ball.
  • noun 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.
  • noun A mechanical loader for handling and lowering bales of cotton into the cargo-space of vessels.
  • noun 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.
  • noun The hole in which a screw (in sense 2) turns.
  • noun 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.
  • noun A spiral shell; a screw-shell.
  • noun A screw propeller.


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; see sker- in Indo-European roots.]

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.


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

    Staying Tuned Daniel Schorr 2001

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

    Staying Tuned Daniel Schorr 2001

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

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