a. A cylindrical rod incised with one or more helical or advancing spiral threads, as a lead screw or worm screw.
b. The tapped collar or socket that receives this rod.
2. A metal pin with incised threads and a broad slotted head that can be driven as a fastener by turning with a screwdriver, especially:
a. A tapered and pointed wood screw.
b. A cylindrical and flat-tipped machine screw.
3. A device having a helical form, such as a corkscrew.
4. A propeller.
5. A twist or turn, as of a screw.
a. A prison guard.
b. The turnkey of a jail.
7. Vulgar Slang The act or an instance of having sexual intercourse.
8. Chiefly British Slang
a. Salary; wages.
b. A small paper packet, as of tobacco.
c. An old broken-down horse.
d. A stingy or crafty bargainer.
v. screwed, screw·ing, screws
1. To drive or tighten (a screw).
a. To fasten, tighten, or attach by means of a screw or similar fastener.
b. To attach (a tapped or threaded fitting or cap) by twisting into place.
c. To rotate (a part) on a threaded axis.
3. To contort (one's face).
To treat (someone) unfairly; exploit or cheat: screwed me out of the most lucrative sales territory.
5. Vulgar Slang To have sexual intercourse with.
v. intr.Phrasal Verbs:
1. To turn or twist.
a. To become attached by means of the threads of a screw.
b. To be capable of such attachment.
3. Vulgar Slang To have sexual intercourse.
1. Slang To act or fool around aimlessly or in a confused way and accomplish nothing.
2. Vulgar Slang To be sexually promiscuous.
Slang To treat (someone) unfairly.
1. To muster or summon up: screwed up my courage.
2. Slang To make a mess of (an undertaking).
3. Slang To injure or damage: Lifting those boxes really screwed up my back. That decision screwed up my career.
4. Slang To cause (someone) to be emotionally or mentally troubled: His father's harshness really screwed him up.
have a screw loose Slang
To behave in an eccentric or mentally deranged manner.
[Middle English skrewe, from Old French escroue, female screw, nut, from Latin scrōfa, breeding sow (a female screw being so called in reference to the shape of the male screw, resembling the spirally ridged erect penis of a boar); see sker-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
(click for a larger image)screw
left to right: round-head machine screw, flat-head wood screw, and round-head wood screw
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.