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

monkey wrench

Also called, especially British, adjustable spanner. a wrench having an adjustable jaw permitting it to grasp nuts or the like of different sizes.
something that interferes with functioning; obstacle:
He threw a monkey wrench into our plans.
Origin of monkey wrench
First recorded in 1855-60 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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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.

  • Words failing him, he fell to belaboring me with a hammer and monkey-wrench.

    Bizarre Lawton Mackall
  • And there should be an ironclad rule, never use a monkey-wrench for a hammer.

    Farm Mechanics Herbert A. Shearer
  • She put back into her overalls and wielded a monkey-wrench in the engine-room.

    The Cup of Fury Rupert Hughes
  • William came closer and lifting his hand, threw a monkey-wrench at Jan.

    Prince Jan, St. Bernard Forrestine C. Hooker
  • So the second day after my baby grand's arrival I went at it with a monkey-wrench.

    The Prairie Wife Arthur Stringer
British Dictionary definitions for monkey-wrench

monkey wrench

a wrench with adjustable jaws
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
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Slang definitions & phrases for monkey-wrench



Promoting preservation of the environment by sabotage

[1975+; fr Edward Abbey's novel The Monkey-Wrench Gang; ultimately fr throw a monkey wrench into the machinery]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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