Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[span-er] /ˈspæn ər/
a person or thing that spans.
Also called spanner wrench. a wrench having a curved head with a hook or pin at one end for engaging notches or holes in collars, certain kinds of nuts, etc.
Compare pin wrench.
Chiefly British. a wrench, especially one with fixed jaws.
Origin of spanner
First recorded in 1630-40; span1 + -er1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for spanner
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Alison disappeared into the stable and came back with the spanner in her hand.

    A Prairie Courtship Harold Bindloss
  • You won't wise him up that I threw a spanner into the machinery?

    The Girl on the Boat Pelham Grenville Wodehouse
  • At this the man straightened himself up, dropping a spanner he had been using, and faced us; but he trembled in all his limbs.

    A Set of Six Joseph Conrad
  • It's the servant man looking for a spanner for your father, Miss Mary.

    The Drone Rutherford Mayne
  • The boys saw the spanner fall from his upraised hand and tumble with a clatter at his feet.

  • He jumped at me unexpected when the spanner hit him, and I fell.

    Prescott of Saskatchewan Harold Bindloss
  • No matter how much of a twitter he was in, he should have had sense enough to see that he was throwing a spanner into the works.

    Right Ho, Jeeves P. G. Wodehouse
  • If you was to put the spanner on the nuts sometimes you wouldnt get half the trouble.

    Life in a Railway Factory Alfred Williams
  • Diving down the engineroom ladder, I find Mr. Crafter frantically tugging with a spanner at a refractory nut.

    From Chart House to Bush Hut Charles W. L. Bryde
British Dictionary definitions for spanner


a steel hand tool with a handle carrying jaws or a hole of particular shape designed to grip a nut or bolt head
(Brit, informal) a source of impediment or annoyance (esp in the phrase throw a spanner in the works)
Word Origin
C17: from German, from spannen to stretch, span1
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for spanner

1630s, a tool for winding the spring of a wheel-lock firearm, from German Spanner, from spannen (see span (v.)). Meaning "wrench" is from 1790. Figurative phrase spanner in the works attested from 1921 (Wodehouse).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for spanner

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for spanner

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for spanner