put the screws on someone
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'.
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.