a spanner in the works

(redirected from spanner in the works)

a spanner in the works

Something that disrupts, foils, or causes problems to a plan, activity, or project. Primarily heard in UK. We had everything in line for the party, but having the caterer cancel on us at the last minute really threw a spanner in the works! It'll really put a spanner in the works if the board decides not to increase our funding for this project.
See also: spanner, work

a spanner in the works

an event, person, or thing that prevents the smooth or successful implementation of a plan; a drawback or impediment.
A variant, found chiefly in North American English, is a monkey wrench in the works , a monkey wrench being a spanner or wrench with adjustable jaws: to throw a spanner (or a monkey wrench ) into the works is to deliberately wreck someone's plans or activities. In his 1974 novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, Edward Abbey used this as a metaphor for systematic industrial sabotage, and monkey-wrenching is now a colloquial term for such activity.
1997 Spectator Pretty well all the newspapers…are now adversarial in tone, conceiving their basic purpose as throwing spanners in the works almost as a matter of principle.
See also: spanner, work
References in periodicals archive ?
Teams at the bottom don't put a spanner in the works or upset title chasers.
Wise Egyptians realise that last Friday's protest was an attempt to put a spanner in the works, obstructing this development, which was they boycotted it.
Meanwhile, Robert Green insists West Ham will be out to "put a spanner in the works" at Old Trafford today as they look to wreck United's title dream.
Green said: "We will be doing everything we can to put a spanner in the works. People will expect us to just roll over and get beat - but we have our own agenda and will make it as hard as possible."
However, that all falls by the wayside when Scott turns up out of the blue and throws a spanner in the works. Meanwhile, Gina is thrilled when Liz offers to help organise the wedding favours - especially as it seems Archie has no intention of lifting a finger.
So Barton's move to throw a further spanner in the works is the last thing he needs ahead of Boxing Day's trip to Everton.
The insider revealed: "She'll be trying to put a spanner in the works by suggesting Eve is after his cash rather than his love."