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monkey-wrench

[muhng-kee-rench]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to ruin (plans, a schedule, etc.) unavoidably or, sometimes, deliberately: The storm monkey-wrenched our plans for a picnic.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to prevent, delay, or sabotage industrialization or development of wilderness areas, especially through vandalism.
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Related formsmon·key-wrench·er, noun

monkey wrench

noun
  1. Also called, especially British, adjustable spanner. a wrench having an adjustable jaw permitting it to grasp nuts or the like of different sizes.
  2. something that interferes with functioning; obstacle: He threw a monkey wrench into our plans.
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Origin of monkey wrench

First recorded in 1855–60
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for monkey-wrench

Historical Examples

  • David threw down the monkey-wrench, and put an arm about her waist.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • Only minutes had gone by since the blows from the monkey-wrench.

    Raiders Invisible

    Desmond Winter Hall

  • When I told her about the monkey-wrench and the lemon pie, she was just as much puzzled as I was.

    Just Patty

    Jean Webster

  • "I'll get a monkey-wrench, my friend; you rattle," Brent chuckled.

    Sunlight Patch

    Credo Fitch Harris

  • He went below with a monkey-wrench, unscrewed the nut, and let the hook drop off.


British Dictionary definitions for monkey-wrench

monkey wrench

noun
  1. a wrench with adjustable jaws
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012