Expressions used in Everyday Spoken English in Social and Professional contexts

(put/throw) a spanner in the works

put a spanner in the worksthrow a spanner in the works
Meaning(s)
1) an action that disrupts or prevents something from succeeding/happening
  • How to MemorizePopularity HighProfessional HighSocial
    • the last minute cancellation really threw/put a spanner in the works
  • Analysis

    To ‘put a spanner in the works’ means to do something or say something that disrupts events or prevents something from progressing as planned. This is an idiomatic expression used to describe something that is unsettling or disappointing when it comes to making plans or looking forward to something.

  • Social Examples (Basic)
    1. Preparations for the party were going great until the DJ put a spanner in the works by cancelling on us. I hope I can find a replacement in time!
    2. We wanted to go on a picnic but the bad weather has put a bit of a spanner in the works.
    3. We had planned on redecorating the kitchen this year but our new baby has thrown a spanner in the works as far as that is concerned.
  • Professional Examples (Basic)
    1. The Board cutting some of the funding for the project really threw a spanner in the works, but the team managed to pull together and make the most of the resources at our disposal.
  • Professional Examples (Advance)
    1. The deal was nearly signed until, at the last minute, the other company insisted on inserting a new clause into the contract. Talk about putting a spanner in the works! 
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