put the screws on someone
put the screws on (one)
To exert excessive and coercive pressure, force, or threats of violence on one. The bank has really started putting the screws on me ever since I began missing my mortgage payments. I'll send one of my strong men around to him tomorrow to put the screws on him. Then we'll see if he's still so sure he won't sign the contract.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
put the screws on someoneINFORMAL
If someone puts the screws on you, they use pressure or threats to make you do what they want. They had to put the screws on Harper. So far, he was the only person who might know something. Note: This is a reference to a method of torture called the thumbscrew; see the explanation at `turn the screw on someone'.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
put the screws on someoneand put the heat on someone and put the squeeze on someone
tv. to pressure someone; to threaten someone to achieve something. He told everything about the plan when they put the screws on him. The cops put the heat on him to try to make him talk.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.