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throw a spanner in the works

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VerbEdit

throw a spanner in the works (third-person singular simple present throws a spanner in the works, present participle throwing a spanner in the works, simple past threw a spanner in the works, past participle thrown a spanner in the works)

  1. (idiomatic, Britain) To introduce a problem, dilemma or obstacle, something unexpected or troublesome.
    Halfway through the production of Macbeth, the director found that the stage was smaller than he had expected. This really threw a spanner in the works.

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