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Agonizing; extremely distressing, unpleasant, or emotionally disturbing; having a severe effect on one's feelings. What a gut-wrenching loss for the young athlete, who poured her heart and soul into this match. Kids today are so desensitized that images of violence their grandparents would have found gut-wrenching now barely even register a response.

put a (monkey) wrench in(to) the works

To disrupt, foil, or cause problems to a plan, activity, or project. Primarily heard in US. We had everything in line for the party, but having the caterer cancel on us at the last minute really threw a wrench in the works! It'll really put a monkey wrench into the works if the board decides not to increase our funding for this project.
See also: put, work, wrench

monkey wrench

1. A type of wrench that has adjustable jaws. Pass me that monkey wrench, will you? I need to get a hold of this nut here.
2. Something that causes problems or disruptions. Ellen's flight getting delayed really threw a monkey wrench into our plans for the day. This rain has sure put a monkey wrench into our pool party!
See also: monkey, wrench

throw a monkey wrench in the works

Fig. to cause problems for someone's plans. I don't want to throw a monkey wrench in the works, but have you checked your plans with a lawyer? When John suddenly refused to help us, he really threw a monkey wrench in the works.
See also: monkey, throw, work, wrench

wrench something from someone

to grab or twist something out of someone's grasp. The policeman wrenched the gun from Lefty's hand and called for his partner. Max wrenched the wallet from Jed's hand and fled with it.
See also: wrench

wrench something off (of) someone or something

 and wrench something off
to yank or twist something off someone or something. (Of is usually retained before pronouns.) He wrenched the shoes off the sleeping man and ran away. He wrenched off the catsup bottle cap.
See also: off, wrench

wrench something out of something

to yank or twist something out of something. The policeman wrenched the gun out of Lefty's hand and told Lefty to put his hands up. Tom wrenched the bone out of the dog's mouth and threw it away.
See also: of, out, wrench

throw a monkey wrench into something

to cause something to fail We keep trying to get together, but her crazy schedule keeps throwing a monkey wrench into our plans.
See also: monkey, throw, wrench

put/throw a spanner in the works

  (British & Australian) also put/throw a (monkey) wrench in the works (American)
to do something that prevents a plan or activity from succeeding We were hoping to get the project started in June but the funding was withdrawn so that rather threw a spanner in the works. The sudden withdrawal of the guest speaker really threw a monkey wrench in the works.
See also: put, spanner, work

throw a monkey wrench into

Sabotage or frustrate a project or plans, as in The boss threw a monkey wrench into our plans when he said we'd have to work Saturday. This transfer of industrial sabotage-that is, throwing a tool inside machinery-to other subjects dates from the early 1900s.
See also: monkey, throw, wrench

left-handed monkey wrench

n. a nonexistent tool. (see also sky hook.) Hand me the left-handed monkey wrench, huh?
See also: monkey, wrench


n. a mechanic. (Possibly from Mr. Goodwrench.) I gotta get my ride in and have a wrench look at the serpentine.
References in periodicals archive ?
Opposition MSPs called on the Crown Office to appeal the case, which they described as ``gut wrenchingly appalling'' and ``repugnant''.
The foursome's interactions - by turns awkward, tantalizing, pragmatically deceptive and wrenchingly, violently comic - felt as real as American movies dare to get.
The Reverend Alex Forsyth told mourners at Private Scott McArdle's funeral that it was 'a heart- wrenchingly sad, but proud day'.
That's all I want - peace,'' Anna wrenchingly confides near film's end, even though it turns out that that innocence - Sean's, and ours - never really existed.
As tortured cops with dark, tragic pasts (a scene where Oak recalls his wife's death is wrenchingly moving), respectively drawn in and belligerent Patric and Liotta both turn in volcanic performances that may explode into shouting storms but never lose their grip on authenticity.
The man does almost everything out of love, and sometimes that conflicts with the strict Bushido code he is expected to honor above all else - and when he does, Sanada makes Seibei's inner conflict wrenchingly tangible.
Highlights include Richard Thompson's scorching reading of Donovan's ``Season of the Witch'' (memo to younger listeners: That loud bit in the middle is called a guitar solo - they used to do that in popular music), Lucinda Williams' wrenchingly sad take on Tom Waits' ``Hang Down Your Head'' and Vic Chesnutt's woozy ``Buckets of Rain.
Director John Frankenheimer's ``Path to War'' is sorrowfully tragic and, even to a neophyte unschooled in recent American history, wrenchingly predictable from the very beginning.
Highlights included the wrenchingly heartfelt ``Give a Man a Home,'' the propulsive ``Soldier,'' ``Motherless Child'' and a haunting version of ``Amazing Grace'' sung to the tune of ``House of the Rising Sun.
It was a year when extremist politics became wrenchingly personal and the results colored every aspect of the industry.
Most of this is rendered in a dispassionate fashion, except the most unpleasant parts - the crucifixion and John the Baptist's beheading - which are fairly wrenchingly depicted.
Burns artfully re-creates Stanton's triumphant final speech on the issue, ``The Solitude of Self,'' a brilliantly argued and wrenchingly emotional personal assessment of the necessity for female self-empowerment.