screw up, to
1. verb To make a big mistake or blunder; to mishandle or ruin something. I'm sorry, I really screwed up. Please forgive me! Wow, it looks like they really screwed up this time.
2. verb To ruin, damage, or mishandle something, especially inadvertently. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "screw" and "up." I can't believe you screwed that deal up! I screwed up my computer somehow—could you come take a look at it?
3. verb To damage or confuse someone's emotional or mental state. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "screw" and "up." Living with abusive parents really screwed him up. The divorce screwed me up for a long time.
4. verb To interfere with someone or their ability to do something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "screw" and "up." I have to concentrate while I do this, so please don't talk and screw me up!
5. noun A huge mistake, blunder, or mishandling. In this usage, the phrase is usually hyphenated or spelled as one word. Another screwup like that and you're fired! I don't care whose screw-up it was—just fix it!
6. noun A person who is prone to making big mistakes or blunders; someone who can't get anything right. In this usage, the phrase is usually hyphenated or spelled as one word. The way I see it, if you treat someone like a screwup their entire life, they're going to eventually become one. I can't believe he married such a screw-up like that.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
screw someone or something up
Inf. to interfere with someone or something; to mess up someone or something. Try again and don't screw it up this time. You really screwed up my brother by not being on time.
screw someone up
Inf. to confuse someone mentally. Please don't screw me up again! You screwed up my train of thought.
screw something up
to attach something to a higher place by the use of screws. The bracket holding the shelf up has come loose. Will you please screw it up again? Please screw up this loose bracket.
1. Inf. to mess up. I hope I don't screw up this time. The waiter screwed up again.
2. Inf. a mess; a blunder; utter confusion. (Usually Screw-up.) This is the chef's screw-up, not mine. One more screw-up like that and you're fired.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. Muster or summon up; see pluck up one's courage.
2. Make a mess of an undertaking; also, make a mistake, as in I really screwed up this report, or She said she was sorry, admitting that she had screwed up. Some authorities believe this usage is a euphemism for fuck up. [Slang; c. 1940]
3. Injure, damage, as in I screwed up my back lifting all those heavy books. [Slang]
4. Make neurotic or anxious, as in Her family really screwed her up, but her therapist has helped her a lot. [Slang; mid-1900s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. To make a mistake; blunder: I screwed up and delivered the package to the wrong address.
2. To injure, damage, or interfere negatively with something: Lifting those boxes really screwed up my back. I gave them detailed instructions, but they still screwed the project up.
3. To make someone neurotic or mentally disturbed: War can really screw up the survivors. Prison really screwed him up. She was screwed up by her parents' divorce.
4. To twist or deform something: The jester screwed up his face and gave a mocking reply. She screwed her eyes up and tried to read the sign.
5. To muster or summon up something: I screwed up my courage and went out on the stage.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. in. to mess up. The waiter screwed up again.
2. n. a mess; a blunder; utter confusion. (see also screwed up.) This is the chef’s screw-up, not mine.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
screw up, to
To botch, to make a mess of; to make an error. This slangy expression, which some think is a euphemism for the much ruder to fuck up, dates from the 1940s, the period of World War II, and may well have originated in the armed forces. Indeed, the army magazine Yank had it on December 23, 1942, “You screw up on the drill field!You goof off at inspection.” For a synonym from about the same period, see louse up.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer