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See also: screw-up and screwup



screw up (third-person singular simple present screws up, present participle screwing up, simple past and past participle screwed up)

  1. (transitive) To tighten or secure with screws.
  2. (transitive) To raise (rent, fees, etc.) to extortionate levels.
    • 1942, Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, Canongate, published 2006, page 1052:
      As far as was possible he kept his subjects as mindless fighting-cocks, troops that could be promised to one power if there was a chance of screwing up another power to a bugger subsidy.
  3. (transitive) To raise or summon up.
    trying to screw up enough courage to ask her out
  4. (transitive) To twist into a contorted state.
    The baby screwed up his face and began to bawl.
    • 1954, William Golding, chapter 1, in Lord of the Flies, Penguin:
      “Where’s the man with the trumpet?” Ralph, sensing his sun-blindness, answered him. “There’s no man with a trumpet. Only me.” The boy came close and peered down at Ralph, screwing up his face as he did so.
  5. (transitive, dated) To squint.
    • 1913, D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers, chapter 8
      As they were finishing breakfast came the postman with a letter from Derby. Mrs. Morel screwed up her eyes to look at the address.
    • 1919, Richard Aldington, A Village
      [...] Hands deep in pockets, head aslant,
      And eyes screwed up against the light [...]
  6. (transitive, colloquial) To make a mess of; to ruin.
    • 2015, Ania Ahlborn, Within These Walls, Simon and Schuster (→ISBN), page 147:
      “Why shouldn't it be my fault, right? I screwed up my kid. I screwed up my marriage. I screwed up my fucking life. We don't need to beat around the bush.” He smirked, shook his head.
  7. (intransitive, colloquial) To blunder; to make a mistake.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:make a mistake
    • 2000, Chuck Norris as Joshua McCord, The President's Man, written by Bob Gookin:
      Let me finish… you screwed up, but you screwed up for the right reasons. You're going to make mistakes, but it's how you deal with those mistakes, that's going to make the difference.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.