turn the screw(s) (on someone)

(redirected from turn the screw)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia.

turn the screw(s) (on someone)

To exert excessive and coercive pressure, force, or threats of violence on someone. The bank has really started turning the screws on me ever since I began missing my mortgage payments. I'll send one of my men around to him tomorrow to start turning the screw. Then we'll see if Johnny's still so sure he won't sign the contract.
See also: turn

turn the screw on someone

or

tighten the screw on someone

INFORMAL
COMMON If someone turns the screw on you or tightens the screw on you, they do something in order to defeat you or in order to make you do what they want. The supermarkets group turned the screw on its troubled rival yesterday, revealing strong sales figures and an expansion of its network. The attacks are seen as an attempt to tighten the screw still further on the government. Note: You can also simply say that someone turns the screw or tightens the screw. Perhaps it's a final attempt to turn the screw and squeeze a last concession out of us. Note: You can also use the plural screws in these expressions. The quickest way to end the violence is surely to tighten the screws on the leader. Note: You can call each action done to defeat or put pressure on someone a turn of the screw or a tightening of the screw. Every rebel raid, however small, is another turn of the screw, increasing the pressure on the President. Opposition parties see the changes as a further tightening of the screw. Note: This is a reference to a method of torture called the thumbscrew. The prisoner's thumbs were pressed between two bars of iron which were then tightened by means of a screw.
See also: on, screw, someone, turn
References in periodicals archive ?
Inevitably, Roth begins to turn the screw and Marcus's world seems to conspires against him.
Put the tube in the water, turn the screw and it pulls the water to the top.
On a 1911 you turn the screw in until the trigger will no longer release the hammer and then back off a quarter of a turn at a time until you can hold the grip safety down, hold the trigger back and work the hammer back and forth until it is completely free without feeling bumping or parts rubbing.
Rovers face Graeme Souness's Newcastle at Ewood Park today bidding to turn the screw on their former boss by adding to his Toon misery.
Sons took the lead through Iain Russell's ninth-minute strike but the Fifers started to turn the screw and Kenny Deuchar had a penalty claim waved away in 29 minutes after a push in the box.
Just use a flat-tipped screwdriver to turn the screw until the shaft teeth line up with the final drive.
Turn the screw at the lowest possible rpm until it reaches shot size.
It will allow the flow of water from the lake to the Debdon Burn to turn the screw.
He had taken control but an ankle injury sustained by Simon enabled the Scot to turn the screw and set up a quarter-final against world number 82 Frederico Gil.